02/22/2007 12:00AM

With blinkers on, Star By Design a new horse


CHICAGO - Trainer Richard Hazelton made no effort this week to hide the fact that he planned to enter Star By Design in a third-level allowance race scheduled for Saturday at Hawthorne. After all, it's not like this is some Grade 1 winner who would have rival horsemen withholding potential entries for fear of getting stomped. But once Hazelton put blinkers back on Star By Design late last summer, the horse turned things around in a major way, winning 2 of 3 races by a combined 15 3/4 lengths. If Star By Design starts 2007 like he ended 2006, stomp them he will in Saturday's sixth-race feature, a six-furlong third-level allowance race with a $40,000 claiming option.

If the race holds together, six will challenge Star By Design, and five of those were entered under the race's claiming option. That's a sure sign that a potential stakes horse like Star By Design should be difficult to beat.

Star By Design himself raced for a $50,000 tag in an optional claiming race last Aug. 11 at Arlington, the day Hazelton outfitted him again with blinkers. Star by Design won by more than nine in that sprint, and a month later might have won the two-turn Prairie Meadows Derby with better racing luck. He had none, finishing third, but came back to Chicago and won an Oct. 20 allowance race at Hawthorne by more than five, geared down.

Hazelton planned to send Star By Design to Mountaineer Park for a stakes race, but the horse got sick and had to stay home - and then the trouble really started. Star By Design developed an abscess in a hind foot; the problem grew serious, with the horse's leg affected up to the hock, Hazelton said.

"I was forever getting that fixed," he said. "I was afraid he was going to founder. It took quite awhile, and then it was too late to run him."

Star By Design, a 4-year-old Distorted Humor gelding owned by the Asiel Stable, shows two published workouts for this start, the most recent a bullet five-furlong move last weekend at Hawthorne. "He's doing real good," Hazelton said.

At his best, Iron Rogue, a five-time Hawthorne winner, would give Star By Design a race, but Iron Rogue tailed off late in the fall-winter meet here and seems hard to trust in his first start of the season. Montstar won two straight allowance races at Mountaineer Park in December and figures to go for the lead along with Magnus One, a $25,000 claiming winner in his 2006 finale, with Star By Design breathing down their necks on the far turn.