06/02/2003 12:00AM

Starrer might be retired

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INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Starrer, one of the nation's top female runners, might be retired in coming weeks.

A persistent ankle problem that has prevented Starrer from starting during the Hollywood Park meeting will be evaluated later this month, owner George Krikorian said. At that point, a decision will be made whether Starrer will resume exercise or be retired. Starrer has not started since she won her third consecutive stakes in the Grade 1 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap at Santa Anita in March.

"We'll know a lot in the next couple of weeks," Krikorian said. "We'll do an evaluation and see how much time she will need to get back, if she can get in top condition before the Breeders' Cup.

"The other option is, if it's difficult to be ready for the Breeders' Cup, we have to seriously look at retiring her. There's no need to run in another race unless we run in that sort of race. The bottom line is we'll do what's best for her."

Trained by John Shirreffs, Starrer began her winning streak with a victory in the Bayakoa Handicap in December and won her 2003 debut in the Grade 1 Santa Maria Handicap at Santa Anita, providing Krikorian with his first win in a race at that level.

A 5-year-old, Starrer has won 6 of 20 starts and $1,043,033.

Azeri targets another Grade 1 Azeri, the 2002 Horse of the Year, resumed galloping on Saturday, a week after she won her ninth consecutive race in the Grade 1 Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Trainer Laura de Seroux said that Azeri remains on schedule for the $250,000 Vanity Handicap over 1 1/8 miles on June 21. Owned by the Allen Paulson Living Trust, the 5-year-old Azeri is the defending champion in the Grade 1 Vanity, and would be attempting to become the first two-time winner since It's in the Air in 1979-80.

"I like the idea of notching another Grade 1," de Seroux said. "That's very appealing and that's an important addition to her resume."

De Seroux said that Azeri is scheduled to work at San Luis Rey Downs on Friday.

There was no training on the main track at San Luis Rey Downs on Sunday and Monday as the surface underwent renovation that included adding sand. De Seroux sent a few runners to Hollywood Park to allow them to continue training without disruption, but did not take Azeri, whose exercise was limited to walking on Sunday and Monday.

"I didn't want to send her to Hollywood Park because I didn't want to make her think she was running," she said.

Makeup Artist healing from surgery

Krikorian's top 3-year-old filly, Makeup Artist, is also out of training.

The winner of the Grade 3 Senorita Stakes on May 17, Makeup Artist is recovering from recent colic surgery and will be sidelined indefinitely.

Her absence leaves Saturday's $200,000 Honeymoon Breeders' Cup Handicap without the division's most recent stakes winner.

Makeup Artist remains hospitalized in Chino, Calif.

"Her progress has been remarkable," Krikorian said. "She should be able to come back."

Makeup Artist had four feet of small intestine removed during a procedure on May 23. Krikorian described the cause of the ailment as an "abrasion in the small intestine" and that veterinarians have told him that it could have been present for some time.

"She did such a good job of hiding it we never knew it was there until it started to be a problem after her last race," Krikorian said. "She never gave any signs or signals. Once they discovered it, it had been there for a long time. She's back to eating food and passing it and doing things the way she's supposed to. Right now, she's on her way to a 100 percent recovery."

Krikorian said Makeup Artist will be turned out before resuming training.

Star Vega in Grade 2 Honeymoon

The absence of Makeup Artist leaves the Grade 2 Honeymoon without a strong favorite. Star Vega, the winner of the Providencia Stakes at Santa Anita in April, is expected to face Rutters Renegade and Shapes and Shadows, who were second and third in the Senorita. Other expected starters include Atlantic Ocean, Bartok's Blithe, Cherokee's Disco, Gotdream, Major Idea, and Quero Quero. Atlantic Ocean was ninth in the Kentucky Oaks on May 2 in her most recent start.

The Honeymoon is run over 1 1/8 miles on turf, and is a prep for the $750,000 American Oaks on July 5.

Madame Pietra returns

The Saturday program at Hollywood Park also includes the $100,000 Desert Stormer Handicap for fillies and mares over six furlongs. Madame Pietra, the winner of three consecutive stakes, makes her first start since January against Bear Fan, Cee's Elegance, Jetinto Houston, Palmarola, and Wild Tickle.

Bear Fan is unbeaten in four starts, including the Fleet Treat Stakes at Del Mar last summer. Curt Bourque, the top rider at Arlington Park, has the mount. Wesley Ward, Bear Fan's co-owner and trainer, said he gave Bourque the mount as a favor to agent Ron Ebanks, who helped Ward acquire a client earlier this year.

Madame Pietra, 6, has not started since winning the Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Sprint at Gulfstream Park last January. Cee's Elegance and Jetinto Houston finished one-two in the B. Thoughtful Stakes on California Gold Rush Day, April 26.

Sunday's main race is the $75,000 Cinderella Stakes for 2-year-old fillies over 5 1/2 furlongs. Yogi's Polar Bear, second in the Nursery Stakes May 11, will face impressive maiden winners Dirty Diana, Hot Weekend, and Outrageous Oyster. Three fillies who won maiden races for claimers also are expected to start - Chalet Chanteuse, Okie Dokie Kookie, and Sweet Nine.

Total Impact gets 30-day rest

Total Impact, the winner of the Mervyn LeRoy Handicap on May 10, is out of training for 30 days after a recent nuclear scan revealed a cannon bone injury, de Seroux said.

The 5-year-old Total Impact was considered a candidate for the $400,000 Californian Stakes June 14. De Seroux said another nuclear scan will be taken in late June to determine whether Total Impact can resume training.

"It needs time to quiet down," she said of the injury.

De Seroux said that Total Impact will be walked at the barn in coming weeks. "I have to keep doing a little something with him," she said. "He gains weight so fast."

Valenzuela suspended

Jockey Patrick Valenzuela has been given a three-day suspension for his ride in Saturday's fourth race, aboard the winner, Expressionist. Valenzuela said he intends to appeal the suspension, which covers racing from Thursday through Sunday.

Valenzuela was cited for failing to maintain a straight course in the stretch of the sprint. Expressionist finished two lengths clear of Royal Footage but the two were within a half-length at the eighth pole after dueling from the start. The stewards conducted an inquiry but did not change the order of finish.