07/19/2002 12:00AM

Lord Flasheart inherits lead role


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The $250,000 Sunset Handicap at Hollywood Park on Sunday lost its top contender on Friday when trainer Bobby Frankel said that Super Quercus wouldn't run because of an ankle injury.

Super Quercus was the 122-pound topweight for the Grade 2 Sunset and would have been favored on the strength of his three-race winning streak. Frankel said X-rays are scheduled to determine the extent of the injury. "It's nothing major, but it's enough to keep him out of the race," he said.

It was the latest blow to the Frankel stable, which has lost major stakes winners Skimming and Starine to injuries this year. "Every day, I've had a new injury on that track," Frankel said.

The setback leaves Frankel with one starter in the Sunset Handicap, Lord Flasheart, who is likely to be favored. The Sunset is the feature race on the closing day of the Hollywood Park spring-summer meeting. Del Mar opens a seven-week meeting on Wednesday.

Lord Flasheart was a major stakes winner at 3 in France. Last January, he was fifth in the Grade 2 San Marcos Stakes, his only stakes appearance in three starts in this country.

On June 30, the 5-year-old Lord Flasheart finished third to Super Quercus and Slew the Red in an allowance race over 1 1/4 miles on turf. "Hopefully, he will run a better race," Frankel said.

Slew the Red, 5, is a French import who is winless in five starts in North America, including a third in the Grade 2 Dixie Stakes at Pimlico in May, his first start of 2002. John O'Donoghue, an assistant trainer to Neil Drysdale, says the Sunset distance of 1 1/2 miles on turf and a decent pace should help Slew the Red, who was caught by Super Quercus in the final sixteenth of the June 30 allowance race.

"There was no pace in that race and that doesn't suit this horse," said John O'Donoghue, assistant to trainer Neil Drysdale. "He needs a strong gallop."

Slew the Red will be part of a group of stalkers, along with Adminniestrator, Slew the Red, and Ringaskiddy, the 117-pound highweight who won the San Juan Capistrano Handicap in April.

There is no confirmed front-runner. Grammarian, a longshot making his stakes debut, and Continental Red or Kim Loves Bucky can lead, but are better as stalkers.

The scenario leads to an open running of the Sunset Handicap, a race that lost its leader with the defection of Super Quercus.

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