02/20/2004 12:00AM

Mr. Jester gets Desormeaux

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Kent Desormeaux has picked up the mount on Mr. Jester, a top 3-year-old who is scheduled to make his next start in the $200,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 20.

Desormeaux replaces Roman Chapa. The move comes a few days after Mr. Jester suffered through a costly, troubled trip in the Grade 2, $150,000 Risen Star Stakes at Fair Grounds on Feb. 15. He finished second as the favorite, beaten a half-length by Gradepoint.

"I hate it for Roman's sake," said Steve Wren, a former jockey who trains Mr. Jester for Kaaren Biggs. "I feel sad, but [horses] like this don't come along every day. I'm very thankful and fortunate to have this one, and we just need to turn the luck around."

Mr. Jester was forced to steady early in the Risen Star, leaving him farther off the pace than usual. He regrouped, advanced along the rail, then was stopped on the final turn before spurting to the leaders going into the stretch. Mr. Jester fought valiantly through the lane and was just overtaken by Gradepoint.

"He came out of the race good, and we have him where he needs to be going into the Rebel," Wren said.

Desormeaux, who won the Kentucky Derby with Real Quiet in 1998 and Fusaichi Pegasus in 2000, called personally about Mr. Jester.

"I think he'll fit this colt," said Wren. "He's a strong rider."

Wren said Desormeaux has made a three-race commitment to Mr. Jester. Those three races figure to be the Rebel, the $1 million Arkansas Derby, and the Kentucky Derby.

Mr. Jester returned to the track for the first time since the Risen Star on Friday and jogged two miles. He has never finished worse than second in seven career starts, with his biggest career wins coming in the $1 million Delta Jackpot, under Chapa, and the Grade 3 Turfway Park Juvenile, under Rafael Bejarano.

Biggs and Wren won the Rebel in 1999 with Etbauer.

Cryptograph points for Rebel

Cryptograph has flown under the radar this season at Oaklawn, but this 3-year-old cannot be ignored anymore. He won his third straight race Feb. 13, powering to a 1 1/4-length win over the multiple graded-stakes-placed colt Proper Prado.

With the allowance win, Cryptograph remained undefeated around two turns. He won his maiden in his second start, closing from well back to capture a one-mile turf race at Remington Park on Nov. 21. He made his 3-year-old debut on Jan. 23, winning an entry-level allowance at one mile at Oaklawn.

Cryptograph used stalking tactics in that race, and used them again in his 1 1/16-mile victory on Feb. 13.

His most recent race pleased his trainer, Donnie Von Hemel, who manages Cryptograph for his breeder, Pin Oak Stable.

"I think he's got a real bright future," Von Hemel said. "For a 3-year-old that had only run a couple of times before that, to come up and run a very professional race, I thought, and to beat a nice colt in Proper Prado, how can you be happier with him?"

Von Hemel said that from his race at Remington to the start of the Oaklawn meet, Cryptograph rated as the most improved horse in his barn. Once immature, Cryptograph has grown up mentally this season at Oaklawn.

"When we worked him before, sometimes he'd concentrate on it and sometimes he wouldn't," said Von Hemel. "Now he's figured out what his job is."

Von Hemel hopes to see Cryptograph continue to move forward. He came out of his last start in good order and is now being pointed for the Rebel, which will be his stakes debut. Von Hemel likes the timing of the race, and did not want to turn Cryptograph back in distance for the $100,000 Southwest, a one-mile stakes for 3-year-olds on Saturday.

"I think the mile and a sixteenth is probably a little better suited to him," he said. "In fact, I think he'll run as far as you want him to run."

Cryptograph is by Cryptoclear-ance out of Hopes and Fears, who is a sister to Peaks and Valleys, a Canadian Horse of the Year who earned $1.5 million. He has been ridden in each of his starts by Don Pettinger.

Tee's Pearl goes back to two turns

Tee's Pearl, who finished a late-running second last out in her first start since December, will stretch back out around two turns in the featured ninth race Sunday. The one-mile allowance for 3-year-old fillies drew six, including Rosieville, who was third last out in an allowance won by eventual $50,000 Martha Washington winner Turn to Lass.

Tee's Pearl has placed in stakes the last two times she has raced around two turns. Trainer Lynn Whiting has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.