09/25/2001 11:00PM

Breeders' Cup not on Astra's agenda


Astra, the undisputed leader of the filly and mare turf division until her poor showing last month in the Beverly D. Stakes, is now considered an unlikely participant in the World Thoroughbred Championships on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park, according to her trainer, Laura de Seroux.

The likely defection of Astra from the Filly and Mare Turf on Oct. 27 at Belmont Park leaves a wide-open field for the 1 1/4-mile race. The leading contenders are England's Legend, Starine, Lailani, and The Seven Seas.

Seroux said Astra is still recuperating from a severe abscess on her left front foot that was discovered shortly after her ninth-place finish as the 3-5 favorite in Arlington Park's Beverly D. Stakes on Aug. 18.

"She had a significant abscess on the inside quarter of her foot, and we are still waiting for her foot to grow back enough to put a shoe on," de Seroux said on Wednesday from San Luis Rey Downs, just outside Del Mar in California. She took over the training of Astra from Simon Bray three days after the Beverly D.

"Fortunately she's responded beautifully since she arrived here," Seroux said. "The wound has completely healed She is 100 percent sound, and we're just about ready to put the shoe back. She should be ready to return to the track in about a week. The mare can get herself ready quickly, and we really won't know where we stand until she starts back galloping. She'll tell us where we stand although I'd have to say at the moment the chances of her running in the Filly and Mare Turf are very small right now."

Astra, who is owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, moved to the top of her division under the patient handling of Bray, who saddled her to eight victories in 10 starts, including two Grade 1 wins. Her disappointing effort was originally attributed to her dislike for the soft going at Arlington that afternoon.

"I'd say it was the abscess more than the soft course which led to her non-run in the Beverly D.," said de Seroux. "In light of the circumstances I would have to say we're leaning more towards bringing her back in the Matriarch at Hollywood rather than in the Filly and Mare Turf."