12/03/2002 12:00AM

Disturbingthepeace among the dropouts

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HOUSTON - The complexion of some of the fields for the inaugural Great State Challenge was changing Tuesday, one day before the six divisional races were to be drawn. The biggest surprise was the defection of Disturbingthepeace, who was the probable favorite for the $275,000 Sprint.

The Great State Challenge, which will match horses from 11 states in six races, will be run Saturday at Sam Houston Race Park.

Disturbingthepeace was withdrawn from consideration late Monday.

"He grabbed a quarter, and we're having trouble getting it to come together," said Darrell Vienna, who trains the California-bred Disturbingthepeace.

Vienna has no next-race plans for Disturbingthepeace, who won six consecutive races earlier this year, including the Grade 2 Triple Bend, Bing Crosby, and Pat O'Brien handicaps.

In other developments, Unlimited Value, also representing California, and Front Nine, from Texas, both have suffered injuries that will keep them out of the Sprint.

Disturbingthepeace's defection makes the Sprint more wide open. Public support could waver among Day Trader, winner of the Grade 3 Kentucky Cup Sprint; My Cousin Matt, who was edged late last out by Tour of the Cat in a statebred stakes in Florida; and Deer Run, who finished second last out in the Grade 1 De Francis Memorial Dash in his native Maryland.

Another race in transition is the $275,000 Classic. Best of the Rest and The Judge Sez Who, who finished a respective one-two last out in a statebred stakes in Florida, did not make the trip from Calder Race Course on Tuesday. Others expected to withdraw from the race are Slippery When Bet from California, and Lord ofthe Thunder from New York.

Easyfromthegitgo, who won the $250,000 Iowa Derby in July, could go favored in the Classic for Kentucky.

In other races, track officials said Atlantic Ocean, who won a stakes in California last Friday, would not wheel back for the $275,000 Juvenile Fillies, while Truckle Feature, who would have been one of the favorites in the $275,000 Juvenile, will pass the race.

In the $275,000 Distaff, Take Charge Lady is the one to beat, while Forbidden Apple looks strong in the $275,000 Turf.