03/03/2004 1:00AM

Tiger Hunt out of Rebel

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Tiger Hunt, one of the top 3-year-olds at Oaklawn Park, will miss the track's $200,000 Rebel Stakes on March 20 because a "flu bug" he contracted last week has interfered with his training schedule, according to Barry Irwin, president of Team Valor, which owns Tiger Hunt.

Tiger Hunt's seasonal debut could come in either the Grade 2, $500,000 Illinois Derby on April 3, or the $1 million Arkansas Derby on April 10, according to Irwin.

"We can't make the race," Irwin said of the Rebel. "We ran out of time."

Tiger Hunt had a 103.3-degree temperature on Saturday, which forced him to miss a scheduled workout. He also was off his feed, but his appetite returned some on Sunday, Irwin said, and he was able to resume training on Tuesday. He has been jogging. "He's still not strong enough to really gallop," said Irwin.

Tiger Hunt had been considered one of the top prospects in the hunt for a $5 million bonus from Oaklawn that rewards the winner of this year's Rebel, Arkansas Derby, and Kentucky Derby. In his last start, he was fourth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Trained by Ralph Nicks, Tiger Hunt finished second to Eurosilver in the Grade 2 Lane's End Futurity at Keeneland last year and won the $200,000 Cradle Stakes.