06/11/2001 12:00AM

Perfect Sting injured but may return

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Perfect Sting, last year's female turf champion, came out of Saturday's Grade 1 Manhattan Handicap with filling in the tendon of her right foreleg, an injury that will most likely keep her out of action this summer and could possibly end her career.

Trainer Joe Orseno was somewhat optimistic after X-rays taken Monday morning did not reveal a core lesion, or hole, which would have indicated a torn tendon, thus ending Perfect Sting's career. Orseno said the injury would be re-evaluated in three weeks before any decision would be made on Perfect Sting's future.

"We were advised to wait three weeks before we made any decision," Orseno said. "She does have an injury. It doesn't appear to be life-threatening or even career-ending. She's bright, alert, feeling good, acting great."

The injury most likely will force Perfect Sting to miss summer races such as the Beverly D at Arlington and the Diana Handicap at Saratoga, Orseno said. If Perfect Sting were to run again, she would most likely be pointed to the Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park on Sept. 29, followed by the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf, also at Belmont, on Oct. 27. Perfect Sting, who is 5 for 6 at Belmont, won the Filly and Mare Turf last year at Churchill Downs.

Saturday's Manhattan was the first time Perfect Sting, a daughter of Red Ransom owned by Frank Stronach, faced males. After checking slightly around the clubhouse turn under Chris McCarron, Perfect Sting was jostled between rivals approaching the stretch en route to finishing sixth.

"McCarron said she got bounced around and it made her cross over and take a bad step," Orseno said. "Jerry Bailey came by after the races and said, 'Joe, she had no chance. She was surrounded. I was involved in it too.' " Bailey, the regular rider of Perfect Sting, rode King Cugat, who finished second in the Manhattan.

Orseno said Perfect Sting would get three weeks of stall rest with minimal walking. If she does not run again, Perfect Sting would retire with a race record of 14-3-0 from 21 starts and earnings of $2,202,042.