12/06/2002 12:00AM

Distaff field shrinks

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HOUSTON - With two of the six fillies and mares entered expected to scratch from Saturday's $275,000 Great State Challenge Distaff at Sam Houston Race Park, Take Charge Lady was expected to have only four opponents.

The connections of Hunka Hunka Lori Z had tried since Wednesday to make travel arrangements from her Laurel Park base in Maryland, but on Friday morning said they were almost certain the filly would be scratched.

"We tried everything," said Charles Reed, who co-owns Hunka Hunka Lori Z with Mike Zanella.

Hunka Hunka Lori Z was unable to get on a full flight Wednesday that picked up 17 horses for the Great State. Other arrangements haven't panned out, including an attempt to charter a plane. When a plan came together to van Hunka Hunka Lori Z to Kentucky for a flight, a winter storm hit the East Coast on Thursday.

"I'm kind of sick about it," said Benny Feliciano, who trains Hunka Hunka Lori Z. "I'm still hoping for a last-minute plan."

Eagle Lake was also a possible scratch. She has won her last four starts, and is cross-entered in a $50,000 undercard stakes, in which she would be odds-on.

"Right now we're leaning toward the Texas Stallion Stakes," said Mark Cornett, who owns Eagle Lake.