03/22/2007 11:00PM

Rose family looks for another derby upset


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - It was considered an upset when the 6-1 Hal's Hope won the 2000 Florida Derby. But it will be a shocker to most observers if the Rose Family Stable can do it again next Saturday with another of its homebreds, Hal's My Hope, who figures to go postward among the longest prices on the board in this year's edition of the $1 million Florida Derby.

"Odds never affect us," said trainer Barry Rose, whose late father, Harold, built the family breeding and racing operation and guided the career of two-time Grade 1 winner Hal's Hope. "I think Hal's Hope was 40-1 when he won the Holy Bull several months before the Florida Derby. I really don't care what the bettors think as long as I know my horse is doing well."

Hal's My Hope earned his way into the Florida Derby field by winning a first-level allowance race here on Feb. 3 and finishing fifth, just four lengths behind Scat Daddy, in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth the following month. Hal's My Hope - whose dam, Mia's Fortunate, is an offspring of Hal's Hope's dam, Mia's Hope - paid $218.80 for his allowance victory and was sent away at odds of 117-1 in the Fountain of Youth.

"I was really surprised to see him that big a price in the Fountain of Youth," said Rose. "But he's really improved in his last two starts."

Rose, who attributes a lot of that success to Hal's My Hope being reunited with jockey Jose Rivera II, hopes to keep the family's roll going.

"I have the pictures on the wall in my office of Hal's Hope in the winner's circle after he won the Florida Derby, and it's just great to look up and see the whole family there with my dad in all his glory," Rose said. "My mom's 92 now, and while it's hard for her to get around because of the new layout here at Gulfstream, I'm trying hard to convince her to be there with all the rest of the family on Saturday."

McPeek works two top 3-year-olds

Trainer Ken McPeek worked his two leading Kentucky Derby hopefuls at Palm Meadows on Friday, just hours before boarding a plane for Kentucky to run Highest Esteem in Saturday's Lane's End Stakes.

Bold Start, McPeek's entrant for the Florida Derby, breezed five furlongs in 1:01, while Birdbirdistheword went six furlongs in 1:14.

Bold Start, a son of Jump Start, finished a troubled second behind King of the Roxy in the 7 1/2-furlong Hutcheson Stakes here this month. The Hutcheson marked the first time Bold Start has raced in blinkers.

"I'm not sure if he would have won or not with a cleaner trip, but the important thing is that he was much more professional and much improved with the blinkers," said McPeek. "And as a result I think he deserves another chance in this race, especially at the added distance. His numbers look pretty good against this field, and if he runs the same type of race he did in the Hutcheson and takes it on to a mile and one-eighth, I think he'll be very competitive."

Bold Start, who finished third in River Downs's Cradle Stakes at 2, won an entry-level allowance here before finishing a dull sixth in the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes. He bounced back with a career-high 98 Beyer in the Hutcheson.

"He's doing well, worked good this morning, and right now what I'm really looking for from him is to run with consistency," said McPeek.

Manoel Cruz will replace Kent Desormeaux, who will be in Dubai, aboard Bold Start in the Florida Derby.

Birdbirdistheword had originally been targeting the Florida Derby, but McPeek decided to give him some extra time between starts. Birdbirdistheword, winner of the Delta Jackpot in his 2-year-old finale, was a well-beaten fifth in the March 10 Louisiana Derby, his 3-year-old debut.

"I just thought he needed a little more time coming out of his last start," McPeek said. "He got lots out of his work this morning, and we'll probably bring him back in either the Illinois Derby or Blue Grass.

"Even though he's got enough graded earnings to make the Derby field, it's no guarantee he'll run," McPeek added. "He needs to really step up and run much improved in his next start to prove he fits. We won't enter him in the Derby just to enter if he doesn't show us he belongs."

Bridgomohan not badly hurt in spill

Apprentice jockey Jermaine Bridgmohan appeared to escape serious injury after falling from his mount Band Together, the 3-5 favorite in Friday's third race.

Bridgmohan, who returned to the saddle only last week after suffering a broken collarbone in a frightening spill on opening day, received a large gash on the inside of his right leg and a bump on his head, according to his agent, Cory Moran.

"The doctors are keeping him at the hospital overnight for observation, but they did a CAT scan on his entire body and the preliminary results were negative for any serious injuries," said Moran. "I'm still not sure how he came off that horse, and Jermaine doesn't remember anything about what happened. All I know is it was right in the middle of the pack and it looked like he got trampled just like the last time."

Bridgmohan, who set a Tropical at Calder record for victories during the 2006-07 meet, had won six races since returning to action last Thursday.

Moran said he was uncertain when Bridgmohan might ride again.

* Dry Martini, an impressive allowance winner here this month, worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds at Calder on Friday. Dry Martini is a likely starter in Saturday's Grade 3, $150,000 Skip Away Handicap for trainer Harry Benson.