11/05/2002 1:00AM

The Judge Sez Who to try older horses


MIAMI - There comes a time in every good 3-year-old's career to find out how he stacks up against older horses. For The Judge Sez Who, that time will come a week from Saturday in the $200,000 Carl G. Rose Classic. The Rose is the co-feature on Calder's inaugural Florida Millions Day, a series of races for Florida-breds.

The Judge Sez Who has raced strictly against his own age group this year, earning over $450,000 and winning three races, including a win over Easyfromthegitgo in the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby. In the Rose, however, The Judge Sez Who will face the 7-year-old Best of the Rest and perhaps veterans Dancing Guy and Divine Luck.

"Obviously it's a big disadvantage going up against older horses, especially the likes of a Best of the Rest, but there's nothing else around here for him against 3-year-olds, and we've got to find out sooner or later how he'll handle older horses," said Milt Wolfson, who trains The Judge Sez Who for owner-breeder Sez Who Thoroughbreds.

Wolfson also has The Judge Sez Who nominated to the $150,000 Bonnie Heath Turf Cup on Florida Millions Day, a race that also includes older horses and is expected to attract local turf leader Band Is Passing. The Judge Sez Who tried grass for only the second time in his career in his most recent start, finishing third behind Union Place and Miesque's Approval in the Grade 3 Calder Derby on Oct. 12. Both of those 3-year-olds are among the 19 nominees for the Bonnie Heath, which could turn out to be the toughest race on the Florida Millions card.

"I really don't want to run him against Band Is Passing and some of the others in the grass stakes," said Wolfson. "But if it rains and it looks like the race might come off the turf then it could come up an easier spot."

Pay the Preacher out

One older horse The Judge Sez Who will not have to worry about in the Rose is Pay the Preacher. Pay the Preacher was bred in Florida but is not a registered Florida-bred, and would have to be supplemented to the race.

"He's had a rough campaign," said his trainer, Bobby Hale. "He only started his racing career 13 months ago, and we've decided to give him a little break."

Pay the Preacher upset Best of the Rest to win the Spend a Buck Handicap on Oct. 12. The victory was the fourth in the last six starts for Pay the Preacher, who was originally in training to be a polo pony and not a racehorse.

"His full brother is a polo pony, but Pay the Preacher was a little frisky so we decided to give him a shot and bring him to the racetrack as a 3-year-old," said Hale, who trains the gelded son of Groomstick for owner-breeder Rosamond Davis. "And he's just gotten better and better with every start."

Rider Nunez finds fates are fickle

Nothing illustrates the ups and downs of a jockey's career better than what happened to Eduardo Nunez over a 24-hour period between Sunday and Monday afternoon.

Nunez, one of the steadiest riders at Calder for more than a decade, won with his first three mounts on Sunday, only to have his year come to a sudden end the following afternoon when he broke his right collarbone. It happened when his mount, Central Command, broke down while disputing the pace in Monday's third race.

Nunez's third winner on Sunday came aboard first-time starter Jo Jo Peaches, a ride he inherited from jockey Carlos Gonzalez. Gonzalez was forced to take off the remainder of the card after being tossed to the ground when his mount clipped heels and stumbled badly in the previous race. Fortunately, Gonzalez escaped uninjured and returned to ride a pair of winners on Monday.