04/29/2004 11:00PM

Halfbridled scratched from Kentucky Oaks

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Halfbridled, the reigning divisional champion who would have been one of the favorites Friday in the 130th Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs, was scratched on the morning of the race after "tying up," the commonly used racetrack term for suffering muscle cramps.

Shortly after Halfbridled returned from a light training regimen at about 6 a.m. Friday, she began tying up, forcing trainer Richard Mandella to take her out of the Oaks. The incident was the second of the spring for Halfbridled, following one on April 2 that led Mandella to scratch her from the Ashland Stakes the next day.

"This whole trip, it seems like things just weren't meant to be," said Mandella. "This incident wasn't as serious as the one at Keeneland, and she actually walked out of it and is comfortable now. But it's race morning, and obviously we couldn't run her."

Mandella said he expected that Halfbridled probably would not race again until this summer.

Halfbridled won all four races last year at 2 and was a nearly unanimous choice for Eclipse champion. She finished second in both of her races so far this year, the Santa Anita Oaks and Stonerside Beaumont Stakes.