06/08/2006 11:00PM

Homeister coaxed out of retirement


MIAMI - Florida racing lost a talented jockey and one of its best goodwill ambassadors when Rosemary Homeister Jr. decided to hang up her tack in November 2004. But Calder's leading lady for more than a decade couldn't get the sport she loved out of her blood, and on Friday announced she will resume her riding career at Calder beginning next weekend.

Homeister, 33, retired as one of the leading and most recognizable female riders in the country. She was also among the top riders of either sex on the local circuit, where she has won 953 races since launching her career in 1992. A winner of 1,726 races overall, Homeister earned an Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice in 1992, became the first female to ever win a jockey title at Hialeah Park, and in 2003 realized what she called her ultimate dream when riding Supah Blitz in the Kentucky Derby.

Homeister began galloping horses here earlier this week with no intention of resuming her riding career.

"When I retired I had ridden for so many years without a break and I was looking for a change," Homeister recalled. "I also was hoping to start a family although unfortunately that never happened. I got into real estate and was happy with it for a while. But eventually the real estate market slowed down, I kind of got bored and most of all I just missed everybody back at the track. Especially the horses. So I decided I'd just come back around in the mornings to gallop and get fit."

But it didn't take long for several local trainers, once they spotted Homeister out working in the morning once again, to inquire as to whether she planned to resume her career and to start offering her mounts.

"Once I started getting offers to ride I began giving it a lot of thought and believe me it didn't take much to convince me to come back again," said Homeister. "Once you start getting on horses the bug is back. I missed the fun and excitement of the track. I love racing. And right now I have the passion back again. I'm so excited I can't wait to go to work tomorrow morning. I feel like an apprentice again. It's awesome."

Homeister did confess she gained about 10 pounds since accepting her last mount more than 18 months ago.

"I weigh 118 pounds now and I love the way I feel and look at that weight," said Homeister. "But I know I have to lose the weight to get back to racing and I'm planning on getting back down to 108 or 109 again. I've been going to the gym regularly since I retired so I've stayed pretty fit and it shouldn't take me very long to get back to my regular riding weight."

Homeister said she also plans to reunite with her former agent, Tito Fuentes.

Five enter prep for Princess Rooney

A field of only five fillies and mares passed the entry box for Sunday's $45,000 Ema Bovary Stakes, a six-furlong sprint which serves as one of the final local preps for the Grade 1 Princess Rooney Handicap on July 15.

Running Bobcats, a late-running second over the turf in the Cool Air Stakes in her previous start, may rule a slight favorite over a field that includes Northern Vacation, Shesa Fast Lady, Storm City Blues, and Elegant Light.

Northern Vacation, claimed for $25,000 at Gulfstream Park on April 6, comes off a second-place finish behind local division leader Prospective Saint in the Kimscountrydiamond Stakes on May 21 while Shesa Fast Lady steps up in company off a 10 1/2-length entry-level allowance win on May 29.

* Two potential candidates for the $500,000 Smile Sprint Handicap, which shares top billing with the Princess Rooney on July 15, worked out of the gate on Friday morning. Nightmare Affair, rallying third behind Woke Up Dreamin in the 2005 Smile, breezed three furlongs in 35.60 seconds, while Pomeroy went an easy half-mile in 49.60.