01/21/2003 12:00AM

Toccet doubtful for Derby

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Toccet, the leading 3-year-old on the East Coast, has been taken out of training and may be forced to miss the Kentucky Derby, owner Daniel Borislow said Tuesday.

According to Borislow, Toccet has what doctors have described to him as "bone remodeling'' in at least three of his four ankles. Borislow said the injury is similar to a minor shin splint in a human and added that the timing of the injury makes this a problem.

"I'd say we have a 20 to 30 percent chance of making the Derby, probably 50 to 60 percent chance of making the Preakness, and 80 percent of making the Belmont,'' Borislow said. "If it happened in November, I would have hid it like everybody else. He would have been racing in his two prep races. If we can stick one race into him before the Derby I'm the happiest guy in the world.''

Borislow said he hopes Toccet can make the Wood Memorial at Aqueduct on April 12.

The problem was diagnosed on Monday at the Rood and Riddle Equine Clinic in Lexington, Ky. Toccet had been scheduled on Monday to fly to Florida to prepare for the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 15.

Borislow said trainer John Scanlan noticed that Toccet was off on Jan. 15, the day after the colt resumed training following his victory in the Dec. 21 Hollywood Futurity. The Futurity was Toccet's fourth race in eight weeks and fifth in 11 weeks. Borislow said the injury could not be detected on regular X-rays, but only on a nuclear scan.

Borislow dismissed the notion that the injury was because of over-racing, and instead believed the hard Hollywood Park track caused the problem.

"Unequivocally, it was caused by racing at Hollywood Park,'' Borislow said. "The horse was completely sound going into the race. I knew the chance I was taking. I'm going to have to take the blame.''

Toccet, a son of Awesome Again, won 6 of 8 starts as a 2-year-old. He burst onto the scene with a victory in the Grade 1 Champagne at Belmont on Oct. 5. Toccet finished ninth in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, beaten 16 lengths by Vindication.

Toccet returned three weeks later to win the Laurel Futurity and then two weeks later he took the Remsen at Aqueduct. Hoping to garner support for an Eclipse Award, Borislow sent Toccet to Hollywood Park, where he won the Futurity by a head over Kafwain.

Borislow said Toccet was to be flown back to Laurel on Wednesday and will have at least two weeks of stall rest.