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Homeister joins elite company

BRANT JAMES, TIMES WIRES
Published May 2, 2003

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Rosemary Homeister Jr., didn't think she would get a chance to become the fifth woman to ride in the Kentucky Derby, even though she was aboard Supah Blitz in the three races that convinced trainer Manny Tortora to take a shot.

When the phone call finally came Monday, the 30-year-old Pembroke Pines resident was ecstatic.

"I just started screaming," she said.

Homeister, the 1992 Eclipse winner as top apprentice, hit the board in a stakes race for the first time when she prodded Supah Blitz to a second-place finish behind Trust N Luck in the Grade I Fountain of Youth.

A fourth-place finish in the Florida Derby was discounted because of a later-discovered lung infection. Then the colt finished second to Dynever in the Aventura, and that's when Homeister started waiting.

"Manny never mentioned anything to me after that, so I was sweating it out," she said. "Maybe he wasn't going to take me. And that would have been fine. Finally, he called me last Monday and asked if I was ready to go to the Kentucky Derby. I said, "Yes, sir.' "

Homeister, who has ridden at Churchill Downs once, said she received an e-mail from Julie Krone, the only woman to ride in the Derby twice. Diane Crump was the first woman to ride in the race, finishing 15th on Fathom in 1970. Patricia Cooksey was 11th on So Vague in 1984 and Andrea Seefeldt was 16th on Forty Something in 1991. Krone was 14th on Ecstatic Ride in 1992 and 11th on Suave Prospect in 1995.

JOG IT IS: Trainer Bobby Frankel took veterinarian Ken Reed's advice and gave 6-5 favorite Empire Maker a day off on Wednesday because of a tender right front foot, but jogged the son of Unbridled early Thursday morning. Reed suggested a walk or jog for Thursday and Frankel decided after personally examining the foot.

The Florida Derby and Wood Memorial winner moved fluidly and is scheduled to gallop 11/2 miles today.

"He's never been a great jogger, but he jogged as well as he ever has," Frankel said. "He's fine."

Empire Maker looked fine and frisky in a 20-minute schooling session in the paddock between races on Thursday. He paid close attention to a bevy of photographers documenting his every move for the first several minutes, engaged in a screeching match with Atswhatimtalknbout, then settled quietly into a stall to finish his day.

EXPERIENCE: D. Wayne Lukas and Bob Baffert are the only trainers in the Derby to have won the race, and Lukas - a four-time winner - thinks that gives them an edge despite the long shots they're starting.

"There's no how-to books," said Lukas, who is scheduled to start Ten Cents a Shine and Scrimshaw. "You really gain from the experience.

"Those first couple of years I was pretty lucky. I did some things I shouldn't have."

WORKOUTS: Peace Rules schooled with Empire Maker. ... Atswhatimtalknbout stood on the track near the rail and galloped 13/8 miles. ... Second favorite Ten Most Wanted galloped and schooled in the gate. "He's okay in the gate, but he doesn't like waiting for them to load," trainer Wally Dollase said. "He gets a little tight. That's why I took (Post) 16. He won't have to wait long out there." ... Brancusi galloped 11/2 miles at Keeneland. ... Santa Anita Derby-winner Buddy Gil jogged a mile and schooled in the starting gate. ... Domestic Dispute galloped 11/2 miles. ... Funny Cide saw Churchill Downs for the first time after shipping in late Wednesday afternoon.

Trainer Barclay Tagg borrowed a pony and led the gelding and exercise rider Robin Smullen on a jaunt that included standing on the track, loading in a starting gate and schooling in the paddock.

LA TRAINEE STAKES: Final Round came from off the pace to win the $111,800 race by a length.

The daughter of Storm Cat covered 7 furlongs in 1:22.13 with Jerry Bailey aboard and earned $69,316 for owner G. Watts Humphrey Jr. Her career earnings grew to $207,036.

Final Round, the favorite, paid $4.40, $2.80 and $2.60 in the race for 3-year-old fillies.

Lovely Sage finished second in the field of six 3-year-old fillies, 11/4 lengths in front of Fast Cookie. Lovely Sage returned $5 and $3.80, while Fast Cookie paid $3.20.

KENTUCKY OAKS: Elloluv is the 5-2 favorite from the No. 1 post for today's Oaks race. She has won four of seven career starts and never finished worse than third.

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