11/18/2002 1:00AM

D'wildcat roars in overdue win


LAUREL, Md. - A year's worth of frustration for owner David Shimmon and trainer Bob Hess Jr. evaporated in the raw, rainy conditions at Laurel Park on Saturday when D'wildcat rallied up the rail to win the Grade 1, $300,000 Frank J. De Francis Memorial Dash by 1 3/4 lengths.

Longshot Deer Run rallied down the center of the track to nose out Sassy Hound for second. Completing the order of finish were Outstander, Rusty Spur, Boston Common, Avanzado, and Thunderello.

Thunderello, the even-money favorite off his second-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, was pulled up midway through the race. On Monday, trainer Scott Lake said Thunderello had fractured the splint bone in his left foreleg and also chipped off "a pretty nice-size piece" of the sesamoid bone, and that the injury could be career-threatening.

The De Francis victory was a defining moment for D'wildcat, who was forced to miss the Breeders' Cup Sprint after he got sick. D'wildcat had not crossed the finish line first since the 2001 Swale Stakes at Gulfstream. Both of his victories this year - the Grade 2 Churchill Downs Handicap on dirt and the Live the Dream Handicap on turf at Del Mar - came via disqualification.

Hess said he tried D'wildcat on turf out of frustration. He noted that D'wildcat began to improve with the addition of blinkers, equipment he first wore three starts back.

"The blinkers were more of the key than surface or distance," Hess said. "He was getting too far back sprinting and not kicking. At least today he finished."

Breaking from post 3, D'wildcat was guided to the rail early by Jorge Chavez. Rusty Spur ran an opening quarter in 22.12 seconds while being chased by Thunderello, Outstander, and Sassy Hound.

Around the turn, as Edgar Prado was pulling up Thunderello, Sassy Hound appeared to be in good position to overtake Rusty Spur. Neither of those two really kicked on in the stretch and both were overtaken by D'wildcat and Deer Run.

D'wildcat covered the six furlongs in 1:10.81 over the sloppy track and returned $14. It was the first Grade 1 victory for Shimmon's Fog City Stable.

Laurel Futurity: Toccet rebounds

Toccet rebounded from his Breeders' Cup Juvenile debacle with a professional 6 1/4-length victory in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Laurel Futurity at soggy Laurel Park.

Racing along the inside and closer to the pace than expected, Toccet stalked a moderate pace established by Ironton down the backside, took the lead at the five-sixteenths pole, and drew clear with only one tap of Jorge Chavez's right-handed whip. Ironton finished second, one length in front of Cherokee's Boy.

Toccet, who won the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont before finishing ninth in the Juvenile when he broke from the outside post, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:46.10 over a sloppy track. He returned $3.60 as the 4-5 favorite.

"He showed more speed than he usually does,'' Chavez said. "On the turn, when I asked him, he responded, and once he made the lead he was galloping. We found out he loves the slop, so that's good.''

Toccet, a son of Awesome Again, is now 4 for 6 and has won three times at 1 1/16 miles.

"This is what he likes; he likes a deep racetrack, he likes mud,'' trainer John Scanlan said. "He wants things to go a little slower. Even though the post at Arlington was horrifying, he really didn't like that fast going. As long as we keep the weather bad and keep running on deep racetracks, I think we'll have a shot to go all the way.''

Owner Daniel Borislow said he wanted to run Toccet in the Laurel Futurity in part because he didn't want to end the season on a sour note, and partly out of loyalty to Laurel management.

Borislow hinted that Toccet might not be done for the year. He didn't rule out wheeling him back in two weeks in either the Remsen at Aqueduct or the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill. Both races are on Nov. 30.

Borislow and Scanlan were also undecided where Toccet would prepare for next year's Kentucky Derby. Borislow said the speed-favoring nature of Gulfstream Park would work against his horse. He said he might keep him in the Northeast, though the lack of graded stakes opportunities may force him to ship.

Selima: Makin Heat on short rest

Makin Heat, who won the six-furlong Hildene Stakes at Delaware Park on Nov. 9, came back on one week's rest to win the $100,000 Selima Stakes by 2 3/4 lengths. Lets Just Do It finished second, 8 3/4 lengths ahead of Heirloom Diamond.

Jerry Robb claimed Makin Heat for $40,000 in September for owner Michael Gill. She is 3 for 5 since the claim.

"She won so easy at Delaware, it was like a workout, and she came out of it bouncing so I had no problem running her back if [Gill] wanted to," Robb said. "He said, 'Go ahead.' "

Makin Heat, a Virginia-bred daughter of Makin, covered the 1 1/16 miles in 1:47.60 and returned $16 as the fourth choice.

o Polish Pride ($8.60), ridden by Jozbin Santana, survived an early pace duel with 3-2 favorite Native Heir, and then held off a late run from Pickupspeed to win the $50,000 Hail Emperor Stakes by one length. It was 7 1/4 lengths back to Marciano in third. Native Heir finished fourth.

o Jockey Alberto Delgado broke a 0-for-46 skid at the meet when he guided Pass the Virtue ($12.80) to a 5 1/4-length upset win in the $50,000 Thirty Eight Go Go Stakes. Golden Phoebe rallied to be second, a neck in front of even-money favorite Lily's Affair.

o Hunka Hunka Lori Z ($25.60) stalked the pace four wide, took command turning for home, and galloped to a 4 3/4-length victory in the $50,000 Stefanita Stakes. Bella Artiste finished second, 2 3/4 lengths ahead of Abundantly Blessed.