Updated on 09/15/2011 1:41PM

Competitive Calder Oaks


MIAMI - August Storm, who stole the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes when allowed to set a slow pace in her 2-year-old finale, may have to work a bit harder if she is to keep her unblemished grass record intact when she launches her 3-year-old season in the $100,000 Calder Oaks on Tuesday. A full field of 12 newly turned 3-year-old fillies will contest the 1 1/16-mile Oaks, which shares top billing on the New Year's Day program with the Grade 3 Calder Derby.

August Storm is perfect in three starts, all stakes, since trainer Linda Rice switched her to the grass after a disappointing career debut over Saratoga's main track. The streak began with Meadowlands's five-furlong Prom Stakes and continued with easy wins at Calder in the Lulu's Ransom and the Hollywood Wildcat.

"I always thought she was going to be a grass filly," said Rice, who trains August Storm for the August Morn Farm. "The key to her future was whether she would stretch out, which she did nicely in her last two starts. We knew there wasn't much speed in the Hollywood Wildcat, which is why she went to the lead. But I was pleased by the way she rallied from third to win the Lulu's Ransom because it showed she can rate and doesn't necessarily have to be in front to win."

With stretchout sprinter Mille Feville and the speedy Stormy Frolic among the dozen starters in the Oaks, it is likely Rice will instruct jockey Jose Ferrer to keep August Moon just off the early lead. A quicker pace should also enhance the chances of the improving Kathy K.D. She did well to finish second in the Hollywood Wildcat after racing off the slow early fractions and lugging in to hamper jockey Eibar Coa while attempting to rally through the stretch.

There is no questioning Ms Brookski's ability to handle this caliber of competition on dirt: She had stakes victories in the Brave Raj and Three Ring at 2. But she still must prove she can transfer that form to the turf after finishing a troubled fourth behind August Storm in the Lulu's Ransom, her only previous grass start.

Kentucky invader Bema, a good second making her turf debut under allowance conditions at Churchill Downs in early November, and the much improved Cut a Wager also demand considerable respect in the Oaks.

North East Bound breezes for Appleton

North East Bound breezed five furlongs in 1:01.80 seconds at Gulfstream Park on Saturday morning in final preparation for Saturday's $150,000 Appleton Handicap.

North East Bound, whose only victory in eight starts in 2001 came in April in Keeneland's Grade 2 Maker's Mark Mile, will be starting highweight under 117 pounds in the one-mile Appleton. Runner-up in the 2000 Breeders' Cup Mile, North East Bound has not started since finishing a tiring fifth in Belmont's Nassau Handicap on Oct. 28.

"I was very pleased with the work since the track was very dead this morning," said William Perry, who trains North East Bound for owners Julian Demarco and Richard Disano. "We gave him some time off after his last race because he had a foot that was bugging him. But he seems to be doing real well now."

Perry said he is unsure if regular rider Jose Velez Jr. will be down to handle North East Bound in the Appleton.

"Jose is riding regularly in New York this winter and if he doesn't have another commitment on Saturday he'll be here to ride North East Bound in the Appleton," said Perry.

* Red Bullet posted the bullet five-furlong work, 1:00.60 seconds, on Saturday's tab at Gulfstream as he prepares for his 2001 debut in the Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap on Jan. 12. The Skip Away will serve as a prep for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 9.

Leading lady Rosemary Homeister Jr.

For the second season in a row Rosemary Homeister Jr. will end up the winningest female rider in the country. Homeister had 228 victories with four days of racing remaining in 2001.

Homeister won the Hialeah riding title last spring, finished second behind Cornelio Velasquez with 125 wins during the Calder meet, and is battling Eibar Coa for the third spot in the standings at the current Tropical at Calder meet.

Homeister won an Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice in 1992.