10/28/2005 12:00AM

Rock Hard Ten scratched from Classic


ELMONT, N.Y. - All through the summer, and into the first part of the fall, trainer Richard Mandella marveled at how smoothly everything had gone for Rock Hard Ten. But all that luck evaporated in the past week, and completely ran out on Friday, when Rock Hard Ten was scratched from Saturday's Breeders' Cup Classic at Belmont Park because of a new foot problem.

Rock Hard Ten bruised his left front foot last week, which delayed his travel to New York from last Sunday until Wednesday. On Friday morning, after a routine gallop at Belmont Park, Rock Hard Ten came back with blood trickling from his right front hoof.

"He shed his frog," Mandella said Friday morning. "It's a different problem from the other foot. It's probably related to the other problem, but how, I don't know. Something inside the frog made it shed. It's a temporary problem. It can fairly quickly be overcome. But the timing is terrible. Long-term, it's not a big deal. But he can't run [Saturday]. I had to scratch him."

Rock Hard Ten, 4, won the Santa Anita Handicap earlier this year, and most recently captured the Goodwood Breeders' Cup Handicap at Santa Anita. He was considered one of the leading contenders for Horse of the Year and champion older horse.

"I'm brokenhearted, but I'm too scared to commit suicide," Mandella said, trying to make light of the situation. "It's very disappointing."

Mandella said the injury usually takes "a week or two" to heal. He said no decision had yet to be reached by owners Ernie Moody and Madeleine Pickens as to whether Rock Hard Ten, an imposing son of Kris S., would be kept in training next year.

"I just have to hope they consider racing him next year," Mandella said. Mandella acknowledged that Rock Hard Ten's owners "are getting a lot of pressure" from stud farms, "and rightfully so, because he's a great prospect."

Rock Hard Ten had drawn the rail in the Classic. According to Jim Gluckson, a spokesman for the Breeders' Cup, Belmont Park starter Richard Brosseau will leave the remaining 13 runners in their original post positions - they will not move one slot closer to the inside.

The Head2Head wager in the Classic, scheduled to be Borrego vs. Rock Hard Ten, has been canceled for that race.

Saint Liam, who is in post 13, was the 3-1 favorite on the original morning line set by Belmont's Eric Donovan. He adjusted Saint Liam to 2-1 following the scratch of Rock Hard Ten.