08/13/2002 11:00PM

Finally, Puck's injury revealed


MIAMI - The mystery of what caused Puck to pull up in distress following his fourth-place finish behind War Emblem in the Haskell Invitational was solved earlier this week. Puck suffered a hairline fracture of his right large pastern during the running of the race, said his trainer, Bill White.

Puck forced War Emblem's pace to the stretch of the Grade 1 Haskell, and jockey Cornelio Velasquez dismounted shortly past the finish line. But Puck walked back to his barn.

Preliminary X-rays showed nothing wrong, but White was convinced there was a problem that hadn't been detected because Puck's right leg had some inflammation and he was walking gingerly on it. White waited several days before returning Puck to his Calder base, where a closer evaluation revealed the injury.

"In a way I'm relieved that we've finally pinpointed the problem and know it's not too serious," said White. "The prognosis is excellent. It's just a small crack and will not even require surgery. It should heal with 60 day's stall rest."

White said he was pleased with Puck's performance in the Haskell, especially considering Puck apparently ran the last half of the race with the injury.

"It's just disappointing that it appeared we had a horse who was starting to become part of the mainstream in the 3-year-old division, but for now all that has come to a temporary halt," White said.

Puck came into the Haskell off victories in the Unbridled Stakes at Calder and Long Branch Stakes at Monmouth.

A first for Heard

Although owner-trainer Thomas Heard has now won stakes races in eight consecutive decades, dating back to Be Blue in 1938, Lawbook's victory in Saturday's Dr. Fager Stakes was Heard's first Florida Stallion Stakes win. Lawbook's jockey, Roger Velez, had never won a Stallion Stakes race until he captured both the 2001 Dr. Fager and Affirmed stakes aboard Carey's Gold. He has now won with three of his five Stallion Stakes mounts.

Fortunate Card's head decision over Heavenly Miss, which capped a stretch-long duel in Saturday's Desert Vixen division, gave jockey Sebastian Madrid his first Stallion Stakes winner. His best previous finish was a second aboard Supah Gem in the 1992 My Dear Girl Stakes.

Favorites to try again

Trust N Luck and Ivanavinalot, the beaten favorites in the six-furlong opening legs of the Stallion Stakes, came out of their races in good order, according to their trainers, and both will wheel back and go seven furlongs in round two of the series on Aug. 31.

Trust N Luck finished second, beaten three-qaurters of a length by Lawbook, after contesting a rapid pace in the Dr. Fager.

"I thought he ran great," said his trainer, Ralph Ziadie. "He was lucky to finish second after going fractions of 21 and change and 44 and change. But when you go to war and live to fight another day, how can you complain? We'll see what happens when he goes seven-eighths."

The previously undefeated Ivanavinalot finished fourth after ducking out at the break and checking back to last following the start of the Desert Vixen.

"It was very disappointing, but she's tearing the barn down so I'm not discouraged," said her trainer, Kathleen O'Connell. "She stood in the gate a long time and had her head cocked and hind legs spread when they sprung the latch, which was the reason she ducked to the outside. I'll break her out of the gate once before the next race. I haven't lost confidence in her. In fact, I'd still rather have my filly than all the others who finished in front of her on Saturday."

Coolbythepool still hot

Coolbythepool became the undisputed leader of the local filly and mare handicap division with her 1 1/4-length victory over Castlebrook in Sunday's Golden Or Handicap. The victory was Coolbythepool's third in an overnight stakes this meet and pushed her 2002 earning over $120,000.

"That was a nice effort by her the other day because it wasn't even her kind of track," said her trainer, Marty Wolfson, referring to Sunday's sloppy track.

Wolfson said he is pointing Coolbythepool for a defense of her title in the $100,000 Shocker T. Handicap on Oct. 12.

Wolfson has a potent one-two punch in the division. Banderia, whom he scratched out of the Golden Or, has won five of her 10 starts this year, including the My Own True Love and Aspidistra handicaps in her last two appearances.