07/22/2003 11:00PM

Ms Brookski back home and loving it


MIAMI - When Phil Combest and his father, trainer Reed Combest, sold Ms Brookski privately to owner Gary Tanaka during the winter of 2002, they thought they had seen the last of their graded- stakes-winning filly.

But after turning in four disappointing efforts since leaving the Combests more than 16 months ago, Ms Brookski is back once again in stall 13 in Barn 41 on the Calder backstretch. And according to Phil Combest, it's as if she never left.

According to Phil Combest, Carla Gaines, who is one of Tanaka's West Coast trainers, "called us last month and said she was getting frustrated with the filly. She said she just didn't like the track out there at all. So she suggested to Mr. Tanaka that they send the filly back to Florida, where she had the most success."

Combest, who serves as assistant to his father, said Ms Brookski returned three weeks ago and immediately settled comfortably in her old surroundings.

"Her personality hasn't changed one bit, and it was obvious she recognized her old home and everything and everybody around it," said Combest.

When jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. came by to see her for the first time, Combest said, Ms Brookski "went crazy. . . . She knew her voice instantly."

Homeister was Ms Brookski's regular rider during her local tenure. Homeister rode the daughter of Montbrook to wins in the Three Ring Stakes here at 2 as well as the most important victory of her career, the Grade 2 Davona Dale Stakes, at Gulfstream during the winter of 2002.

Homeister was also aboard Ms Brookski on Monday when she breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40, her first serious work since her return.

"The biggest problem with this filly is that she runs high and throws her head around, which causes her to lose the corners and skate around the turn," said Combest. "Rosie was good with her in that regard, because she was able to give and take with her around the corner. And the filly does seem to hold this track more than any of the others."

Combest said he and his father will look for a prep race for Ms Brookski in the coming weeks.

"We'll start her out short and see where we stand," said Combest. "There's an overnight stakes coming up in a couple of weeks which might fit her well."

Twice as Bad rallies to win

Economist at Last and It's Awesome Baby were trying to earn berths in the $75,000 Dr. Fager Stakes, opening leg of the Florida Stallion Stakes, with big efforts in Tuesday's $30,000 allowance feature. But both fell victim to the much-improved Twice as Bad, who rallied from off the pace to win the first-level allowance dash for 2-year-olds by 3 1/4 lengths. Twice as Bad is not Stallion Stakes eligible.

It's Awesome Baby, who overcame a rough trip to win his debut, finished a tiring fourth as the 4-5 favorite in the six-furlong dash.

* Leadership in the wide-open turf division will be up for grabs once again on Friday when a field of 12 will start, weather permitting, in the $40,000 Nijinsky's Secret Stakes. Among the leading contenders in the 7 1/2-furlong overnight stakes are Callthesheriff, Sea Pleasure, Stauch, Mr. Livingston, and Pah. If the race is moved to the main track, Lavender's Lad and Shotgun Fire become the ones to beat.

* Manoel Cruz holds a decided advantage in the jockey standings but his closest pursuers, apprentice Eddie Castro and Gary Boulanger, are certainly not giving up the chase. Castro rode five winners on Saturday and posted a hat trick Tuesday. Boulanger, who finished second on Aeneas for trainer Marty Wolfson in Saturday's Washington Park Handicap at Arlington, turned in a four-bagger here Monday.

* There will be no racing here from Monday, July 28, through Friday, Aug. 1. Entries for Saturday, Aug. 2, will be taken this Saturday, while entries for Sunday, Aug. 3, will be drawn on Sunday.