11/18/2003 12:00AM

Home team shines in Florida Million


MIAMI - Saturday's second annual Florida Million program had some compelling stories.

One was Best of the Rest defending his title in the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic only 15 days after the death of his owner-breeder, Bernie Oxenberg. Another was Sir Oscar winning a battle of undefeated 2-year-olds, outgaming Wynn Dot Comma in the stretch to win the $150,000 Jack Price Juvenile.

Lost perhaps among those and other outstanding performances was the overall success of the home forces. Calder-based horses won all six stakes races, numbering among their victims 3-5 favorites Proud Man (in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup) and Smok'n Frolic (Elmer Heubeck Distaff Handicap), as well as 8-5 favorite Sing Me Back Home (Jack Dudley Sprint Handicap). Five of the six Calder-based winners, including Best of the Rest and Sir Oscar, are also homebreds. The other homebreds are Chatter Chatter, Love That Moon, and Stormy Roman. Only Scapade, who scored the card's biggest upset, in the Elmer Heubeck, was not bred by her owner.

Stormy Roman set the tone for the day, rallying from just off the pace to score a two-length victory over New York invaders Music's Home, Proud Man, Sir Brian's Sword, and Orchard Park in the Bonnie Heath. The victory was the first for Stormy Roman since the Pete Axthelm Handicap at Calder 11 months earlier.

Trainer Tim Hills had considered bringing Stormy Roman to New Jersey along with the bulk of his stable this summer, but opted instead to leave this son of Future Storm behind in south Florida to run on his favorite course. As a result, Stormy Roman had made only three starts between March 3 and the Bonnie Heath.

"He's just a Calder turf horse," said Hills. "He likes this course, but it's also the reason he didn't get to run too much this year. With all the rain here in the summer a lot of his races just didn't go."

Hills said he will consider stretching out Stormy Roman to 1 1/2 miles for the Grade 2 W. L. McKnight Handicap on Dec. 27, then point him for a second shot at the Sunshine Millions Turf at Gulfstream Park in January.

Love That Moon, who rallied from well back to defeat invaders Pick'em and Sing Me Back Home in the Jack Dudley Sprint, is the ultimate horse for the course. His victory on Saturday was the seventh in 10 starts by this former claimer on his home track.

"I guess you can say he really likes this track, said Ross Wolfendale. "He's won seven of 10 here - and two of those races he lost because of bad trips. But now what do I do?"

Wolfendale was referring to the fact there was only seven weeks left in the meet, during which he will have one last opportunity to run Love That Moon against stakes company - in the $100,000 Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap at seven furlongs on Dec. 13.

The locals will brace for another challenge a week from Saturday, in the $100,000 Mecke and Hollywood Wildcat stakes, the first two stakes races for 2-year-olds on the grass here this year.

Among the leading nominees for the Mecke are trainer Todd Pletcher's pair of Actaeon and Decibel, Bill Mott's duo of Cool Conductor and stakes-placed Grand Heritage, Motivus, Wasabi Cat, and Greg Martin's stakes-winning World Appeal.

Four juvenile fillies who are already stakes-placed out of town have been nominated to the Hollywood Wildcat - Run Cat Run, Sister Star, Turn to Lass, and Peace Symbol.

Ship-ins won the first five editions of the Hollywood Wildcat, but the streak was snapped a year ago by the locally based Sweetrickydancer who, like the Elmer Heubeck winner Scapade, is trained by Rudolfo Garcia.