07/30/2004 12:00AM

Devils Disciple earns Hopeful shot


MIAMI - A week ago, trainer Joe Waunsch was planning on avoiding the big guns in Florida's 2-year-old division this summer with his juvenile sensation Devils Disciple, opting instead to take an easier route that would include the $200,000 Cradle Stakes, a Grade 3, 1 1/16-mile race at River Downs on Sept. 6.

But after he followed his 97 Beyer Speed Figure in the Criterium Stakes with a 101 for his 9 1/4-length victory over a sloppy track in last Sunday's Dear Murray Stakes, Devils Disciple now appears to be one of the big guns himself. The win also prompted Waunsch to alter his plans. He will now point Devils Disciple for Saratoga's Grade 1, $250,000 Hopeful on Aug. 21.

Although Rosemary Homeister Jr. has ridden Devils Disciple in all his races, Waunsch has already engaged the services of former Calder-based jockey Cornelio Velasquez for the Hopeful.

"I've learned the hard way in the past that when you go out of town for a big stakes you need to get one of the local riders who is familiar with the racetrack," said Waunsch, who trains Devils Disciple for owner John Somers.

"The way he won his last race I wouldn't be afraid to take on anybody with this horse. He came into the paddock for the race on Sunday like a monster, just dying to run, and he won so easily. He was 12 lengths in front by the time they turned into the stretch. His stride is so long and so smooth, and he got a 101 Beyer even with Rosie easing him up coming to the wire."

The official chart footnote for the Dear Murray said Devils Disciple "won under wraps."

"The timing for the Hopeful is actually better for my horse than the Cradle Stakes, and the purse is $50,000 more," said Waunsch. "There's nothing here for him between now and Labor Day, which means I would have had to stretch him out around two turns for the first time in the Cradle without a race in six weeks. The Hopeful means stretching him only from six to seven furlongs and comes back in four weeks."

Devils Disciple, a gelded son of Devil His Due, is not Breeders' Cup eligible, so Waunsch said his primary goal at the moment remains the Lanes End Breeders' Stakes at Keeneland on Oct. 9.

Pair of standouts in Georgia Peaches

The $50,000 Georgia Peaches Stakes, a race restricted to progeny of sires that have had a season donated to the Georgia Thoroughbred Stallion Auction of 2005, will be the main event on Sunday. The stakes for fillies and mares will be decided at a mile on the grass.

All the Honor, a daughter of Double Honor, and Formal Miss, who is by Formal Dinner, are clearly the class of the field.

All the Honor has won four of her last five starts with her only setback during that streak an eighth-place finish in Gulfstream Park's Sunshine Millions Filly and Mare Turf. The 4-year-old All the Honor has not started since beating a strong field of allowance horses, including Born Something and Cellars Shiraz, on Feb. 21, but has worked fairly regularly for trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. since mid-June.

Formal Miss, a multiple stakes winner, earned a career-best 92 Beyer Speed Figure in the Liberada Handicap on May 15 when she was equipped with blinkers for the first time. But she, too, has been idle for a while, her last start a poor effort over a sloppy track in Delaware Park's John Rooney Memorial Handicap on June 5.

Among the other key members of the Georgia Peaches field are Act Foolish, Arab Miss, and Send the Package.