08/10/2004 11:00PM

Rose sending out a pair to extend a family tradition

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MIAMI - The Rose family name has been an integral part of the Florida Stallion Stakes series ever since "Papa" Harold Rose won split divisions of the rich In Reality Stakes with Rexson's Hope and My G P in 1983.

On Saturday, Rose's son Barry hopes to carry on the tradition when he sends out homebreds Leona's Knight and Hal's Image in the $75,000 Desert Vixen and Dr. Fager stakes, opening legs of the 2004 Stallion series.

Leona's Knight will face 11 rivals in the six-furlong Desert Vixen. A daughter of Suave Prospect and the late mare P.M.'s Hope, she is out to regain the form that saw her capture the first two races of her career before she finished fifth and third behind the division leader, Punch Appeal, in the J J'sdream and Chispiski stakes.

Hal's Image, a half-brother and spitting image of the multiple Grade 1 stakes winner Hal's Hope, was a disappointment in his first three starts, but comes into the six-furlong Dr. Fager off his best two efforts, an easy 8 1/2-length maiden victory on July 12 and a third-place finish behind division leader Devils Disciple in the Dear Murray Stakes.

"I'm looking for both our horses to run well on Saturday," said Rose, who began training the family stable following the death of his father last year. "Leona's Knight didn't like getting dirt in her face when racing along the inside in her last start, and the fact she drew on the extreme outside should help her a lot on Saturday.

"Hal's Image ran a nice race when he broke his maiden, but he didn't break well or face any real competition that day, so it's hard to tell how fast he could have run. He ran even better in the stakes but obviously was no match for Devils Disciple."

Obviously Rose, like the rest of his colleagues in both the Desert Vixen and Dr. Fager, are happy neither Punch Appeal or Devils Disciple are eligible for the Stallion Stakes.

"Fortunately, we don't have to go up against either Punch Appeal or Devils Disciple, which makes things a lot easier for all of us," said Rose, who has sent out 10 winners at the meet. "If either of these horses should be fortunate enough to win, it would give me my first stakes victory, and obviously it would mean a little more coming in one of the Stallion Series races. Especially since Rexson's Hope, who is the grandfather of both these 2-year-olds, was my dad's first Stallion Series winner."

Yes It's Gold, runner-up to Punch Appeal in the Chispiski Stakes, and Aclassysassylassy, who finished second behind Punch Appeal in the J J'sdream top the Desert Vixen. Other key contenders figures to be Midtown Miss, Cut the Mustard, Inrightclassitime, Halo Jamerica, and Spinning Jolie.

The Dr. Fager lured only eight juvenile colts, with trainer Eddie Plesa Jr. holding the upper hand with the likely favorite, B. B. Best, and his uncoupled stablemate Favre. Cherokee Chase, Captain Lindsay, Fairy Image, Monti's Lad, and Hostile Witness round out the field along with Hal's Image.

Devils Disciple, the nation's fastest 2-year-old at this point of the season, worked five furlongs in 59.19 seconds under jockey Rosemary Homeister Jr. on Sunday. It was his first work since earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 103 winning the Dear Murray by 9 1/4 lengths on July 25. Devils Disciple went in splits of 35.06 and 46.98 seconds before galloping out in 1:13 and change.

Devils Disciple, who is trained by Joseph Waunsch, is scheduled to leave by van for Saratoga Thursday morning to compete in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes on Aug. 21. He will blow out at Saratoga early next week under jockey Cornelio Velasquez.

Beautiful Honor is the speed

Trainer Marty Wolfson does not have an entry in either the Desert Vixen or Dr. Fager but does have the filly to catch, Beautiful Honor, in Friday's $40,000 Unique Type Stakes.

Beautiful Honor will return against her own kind after taking on males and finishing sixth in the two-furlong Rocket Man Stakes on July 10. The speedy 4-year-old has won 3 of 7 starts, including an easy victory over current division leader, Mary Murphy, under second-level allowance conditions here last fall.

Crafty Brat, a multiple stakes winner who has been a beaten favorite and major disappointment in each of her last two starts, remains the one to beat in the 5 1/2-furlong overnight stakes.