Rain washed seven horses from the Chrysanthemum Handicap yesterday by drowning the grass at Laurel. As a result, Starfield splashed along a sloppy main track and came away clean with a four-length victory in the $100,000 race.

Laurel's final weekend of turf racing began with a mudfest, and track officials announced that today's $100,000 Turf Cup won't be a turf race at all after determining the grass course unsafe.

"I walked the turf course this morning at 7, and there was a good quarter of an inch of water just laying on it," said John Passero, the track superintendent. "Why ask them to plod through that stuff when it's up to their ankles? You're just asking for something to happen."

Laurel President Joe De Francis concurred, and said the track considered rescheduling both stakes races. "We thought long and hard about it," he said. "But you only reschedule a race under the direst of circumstances, and with six-horse fields today and {Sunday}, we thought it was proper to run them as scheduled."

At scratch time yesterday, 12 horses remained in the Turf Cup, but that is likely to diminish by post time. Chas' Whim, who runs well on dirt or turf, is favored.

Trainer Dick Small was ambivalent about keeping Starfield in the Chrysanthemum on a soupy track yesterday, but announcements of other withdrawals helped sway him. Only six remained from an original field of 14 -- the powerhouse Miss Josh not among them -- and Small reasoned, "You can't win if you're not in there. Let's put her in and see what happens."

Starfield had been assigned 109 pounds -- lowest among the six starters -- but weights turned misleading with the switch to slop; Highland Penny, the 116-pound highweight, had won only one of 14 off the turf. Starfield actually carried 111 pounds, the lightest Andrea Seefeldt could tack.

Seefeldt had won neither a $100,000 or a Grade III race, but that changed in the 1 minute 52 1/5 seconds Starfield needed to get 1 1/8 miles. Although most of those entered had little dirt-track form to gauge, Seefeldt gleaned that few had speed, and that the track appeared speed-oriented. She happened to have a fast filly and the rail.

That was all she had to know. Starfield got inside position as three to her right were fanned into the first turn, including 9-10 favorite Lanzada. She took a clear lead into the backstretch without being pushed and set an easy pace, the half-mile going in 48 1/5.

Hear The Bells, who was closest to her throughout, tried Starfield deep into the far turn, but the leader shook free into the stretch. Highland Penny finished third, well behind second-place Hear The Bells.

Starfield's four-length victory meant $60,000 to Bob Meyerhoff, who bought the well-bred filly as a yearling for $40,000. A 3-year-old by Spectacular Bid, Starfield has made $141,235.

But Starfield's chance for a vacation might have been lost. Small, who had planned to give her the winter off, might reassess. "We found out she likes the mud," he said. "Maybe we'll race her this winter after all."