11/14/2005 1:00AM

No shame in second for Rousing Victory

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Trainer Phil Serpe was very pleased with Rousing Victory's second-place finish Saturday in Aqueduct's Grade 2 .

No horse in the race was a match for King's Drama, a Grade 1 winner who was using the Red Smith as a tuneup for the Japan Cup.

King's Drama coasted to a 2 1/2-length win as the 3-5 favorite.

Rousing Victory rallied three wide on the final turn and continued gamely through the lane to earn the place spot in the 1 3/8-mile race, the final graded turf stakes of the year in New York.

"Chasing speed is always tough," said Serpe. "Unfortunately, we didn't have the opportunity to get down inside and save a little ground. We were never closer than the four path. Under the circumstances, I thought the horse ran a great race."

The big effort, at 8-1, did not surprise Serpe.

"I expected him to run that well," he said. "He's a horse that kind of touts himself. He really was training well going into the race."

Distance is the key for Rousing Victory. The longer, the better. Now a 4-year-old, Rousing Victory won his maiden in May 2004 at Belmont Park at 1 1/4 miles. A highlight of last year was a loss by only a half-length in Belmont's Grade 3 Lawrence Realization at 1 1/2 miles.

His lone win this season came in an overnight stakes at Saratoga at 1 5/8 miles.

"We got thrown a little off base after the win at Saratoga," Serpe said. "He had a slight respiratory ailment when he ran back in the Man o' War."

Rousing Victory made a strong move into contention in that Grade 1 race before flattening out.

With the New York grass stakes season over, Serpe is pointing Rousing Victory toward the Grade 2 W.L. McKnight Handicap at 1 1/2 miles at Calder on Dec. 17.

"We will see how he's doing and how he ships down to Florida," said Serpe. "If all goes well, that's something to think about."

Look for Saint Daimon in Florida

The future looks bright for Saint Daimon following his victory Sunday in the $81,350 Huntington Stakes for 2-year-olds at the Big A.

He made a strong move up the rail to draw away to a 3 3/4-length win in his stakes debut.

The Huntington was at six furlongs, and Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens said he believes Saint Daimon can go longer, based on his pedigree. Saint Daimon is a son of Saint Ballado out of the mare Daimon.

"His mother was a real nice mare, and his father was a very nice stallion," Jerkens said. "I am hoping that he can go a distance."

Jerkens has not selected Saint Daimon's next race, but he did rule out another start this season in New York. He will likely next run in Florida.

Post times altered

Aqueduct announced post-time changes for the HolidayFest weekend of Nov. 24-26.

The Thanksgiving Day card, which traditionally began at 11 a.m., will get under way at 11:25.

First posts on Friday and Saturday will be 12:25 p.m., instead of noon.

The changes, according to New York Racing Association senior vice president Bill Nader, were made to accommodate trainers who must have horses in NYRA's security barn five hours before post time.

"The change in first-race post is an effort to support horsemen who support us," said Nader. "We're looking out for them and for the best interests of our fans and the Thoroughbred racing industry."

HolidayFest features the last major stakes of the year in New York. The big day is Nov. 26, which features the Grade 1 Cigar Mile and a pair of Grade 2 stakes for 2-year-olds, the Remsen and the Demoiselle for fillies.

First post reverts to 12:30 p.m. on Sunday, Nov. 27, the final day of racing on the main track.