10/10/2004 11:00PM

Toasted not making trip for derby


CHICAGO - Saturday's Hawthorne Derby will require an understudy, since the star of the show will not be making an appearance.

Toasted, who was beaten a head Sept. 6 by the ballyhooed Blackdoun in the Grade 2 Del Mar Derby, was declared out of the Grade 3, $250,000 Hawthorne Derby on Monday by trainer Laura de Seroux. De Seroux said she had planned "up until this morning" to ship Toasted in for the race, but multiple factors combined to keep the colt at home in California.

First, Toasted would have to fly to Lexington, Ky., and take a van from there to Hawthorne, since no direct flights to Chicago were available, according to de Seroux. Moreover, Toasted is nursing a sore hoof, and de Seroux does not want to ship halfway across the country to run an ailing horse.

"You don't incur the expense of shipping if the horse isn't 100 percent," she said.

"He bruised his hoof, and he's behind a few days," said de Seroux. "He might not even make the Oak Tree Derby" on Oct. 17 at Santa Anita.

So much for having a standout. Now, the Hawthorne Derby, a nine-furlong grass race, is thrown wide open, and Toasted's defection could swell the prospective field in the coming days. As of Monday, Hawthorne racing officials had seven likely starters for the race, headed by the locally based duo of Gwaihir and Hunting Hillbilly; Cockleshell, who is expected to ship from trainer Michael Dickinson's Tapeta Farm in Maryland; and perhaps Bankruptcy Court, based in New York with trainer Rick Violette.

2002 derby check not in the mail just yet

Scooter Roach's 18-1 upset Saturday in the brought back memories of the 2002 Hawthorne Derby. Run in May that year, the derby attracted a well-regarded colt named Flying Dash, who won by three lengths over a 33-1 shot - Scooter Roach.

Look back at Scooter Roach's past performances, and you'll see below his Hawthorne Derby running line: Awarded first purse money.

That's still not yet true.

Flying Dash, who has since died, tested positive for an illegal race-day medication in the derby. The purse money was ordered redistributed, and trainer Neil Drysdale was handed a 45-day suspension and a $2,500 fine. But Drysdale's California attorney, Neil Papiano, vigorously fought the ruling, delaying the penalty and tying up the purse money.

The appeals process apparently has concluded.

According to Terrel Gore, the owner, trainer, and breeder who campaigned Scooter Roach with his wife, Lizbeth, during the spring of 2002, "The stewards at Arlington called me a month ago" and told him that the Illinois Racing Board "said it was all over. They said a ruling would come out in 30 days, and that the money would be sent out. But that's the last I've heard of it."

The racing board was not available Monday because of Columbus Day, but stewards at Hawthorne confirmed Gore's version. Within a month, they said, the Flying Dash case should be resolved.

Gore long ago lost Scooter Roach to the claim box, and still awaits the $100,000 winner's share of the Hawthorne Derby purse. "I have to pay the jockey, of course," Gore said. "There's a lot of people that have money coming from that race."

The jockey Gore owes is Jesse Campbell, who made a nice lick Saturday riding the 5-year-old in the Carey. Scooter Roach earned $90,000 there for his owners, the Butterfly Stable. Before the Grade 3 Carey, he had lost three straight races while running for a $62,500 claiming price. That was the price Butterfly and trainer David Kassen paid for Scooter Roach in June. A year and a half earlier, Gore had lost him for $35,000.

Finally, he is on the verge of an overdue payday.

Defrere's Vixen taking on Fiery Diablo

During the spring of 2003, Defrere's Vixen wandered onto a distant offshoot of the Triple Crown trail with a third-place finish in the Risen Star Stakes and a fifth in the Louisiana Derby. But his career has sputtered since then. After a couple of lengthy layoffs, Defrere's Vixen won two straight Oaklawn Park allowance races earlier this year. But when he resurfaced at Arlington over the summer, Defrere's Vixen was running in $50,000 claimers.

Two wins at that level, and Defrere's Vixen suddenly has become worth holding on to. When he starts Wednesday in Hawthorne's featured eighth race, a fourth-level allowance with a $50,000 claiming option, Defrere's Vixen won't be eligible to be claimed.

That alone won't make it any easier for him to catch Fiery Diablo, who has the rail and the speed in this 1 1/16-mile dirt race. But Defrere's Vixen, from the Steve Asmussen barn, won his last start, on Sept. 12 at Arlington, by four lengths, and on Saturday, his five-furlong work at Hawthorne was timed in 1:01, the fastest of 22 such breezes that morning.