10/24/2004 11:00PM

Injury knocks out Sarafan

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Kitten's Joy, trying out the Lone Star turf on Saturday, could be an even heavier favorite if Ouija Board runs in the Filly and Mare Turf.

The field for the $2 million Turf, already one of the smallest at the Breeders' Cup this year, got even smaller when trainer Neil Drysdale revealed Monday that Sarafan would not make the trip from California to race Saturday in the 1 1/2-mile grass race.

"He hit himself [Sunday] morning and had some inflammation in a front leg," said Drysdale.

The defection of Sarafan, a 7-year-old gelding who has earned nearly $2.6 million in a 44-race career that has taken him all over the globe, leaves the Turf with nine starters at most - and only eight if the connections of Ouija Board decide to run her in the Filly and Mare Turf instead of against males in the Turf. Only the BC Juvenile, with a maximum of eight horses, has fewer projected starters.

Drysdale, who 15 years ago upset the Turf at Gulfstream Park with Prized, said that the injury to Sarafan is very minor but that the timing could not have been much worse.

"He was feeling very, very well, which is probably why he hit himself," said Drysdale, who still will be at the Breeders' Cup to saddle Musical Chimes for Sheikh Maktoum al Maktoum in the Mile. "He was bucking and playing, and that's probably when he did it. The inflammation subsequently went down, but we had to miss a work and he will have to miss a couple of days of training, so obviously the timing is not good.

"We only made the decision this morning not to go to the Breeders' Cup with him. He's such a lovely old horse, a lovely campaigner, that we want to do everything right by him. Everybody loves the horse. We'll scan him and all that other stuff to make sure he'll be all right, and if he is, we'll probably bring him back to run next month at Hollywood Park."

Sarafan, owned by Gary Tanaka, was one of just two West Coast hopes for the Turf, having posted back-to-back runner-up finishes in his last two races, the Grade 2 Del Mar Handicap and Grade 1 Clement Hirsch at Santa Anita. Star Over the Bay, who won both of those races, now is the lone California horse in the Turf.

With yet one more Turf prospect eliminated, the price on the likely favorite, Kitten's Joy, probably grew even smaller. Kitten's Joy, to be ridden by John Velazquez, posted his final prerace workout Saturday and familiarized himself with the Lone Star grass course. The most recent heavy favorite in the Turf was just two years ago, when High Chaparral won at Arlington Park at a $3.60 mutuel.

Meanwhile, in final prerace workouts Sunday for the Turf, Request for Parole went five furlongs on the Belmont turf in 1:03.10, while Mustanfar went a half-mile in 52.02 seconds over the same course. At Hollywood Park, Star Over the Bay went six furlongs in 1:13.20 over a fast main track.