03/23/2006 1:00AM

Saint Augustus to try Florida Derby


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Saint Augustus has joined the short list of horses pointing for the $1 million Florida Derby on April 1.

Saint Augustus, a son of Saint Ballado, earned his way into the Grade 1 race with a 3 1/2-length second-level allowance win going 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream on Feb. 26. The victory was the third in eight starts for Saint Augustus who also captured Calder Race Course's What a Pleasure Stakes in his 2-year-old finale.

The announcement that Saint Augustus would run in the Florida Derby was made Thursday by Dogwood Stable president Cot Campbell.

"He is coming off an impressive allowance win at one mile and one-eighth at Gulfstream and the Florida Derby is worth $1 million with one standout horse to beat," said Campbell, referring to the undefeated Barbaro. "It seems like the logical spot for the colt. There are other Kentucky Derby prep races around but we've had poor luck shipping him. He has been on the bubble of Derby contenders for a couple of months and hopefully after April 1 he'll emerge as a contender not a pretender."

Chris DeCarlo, who rode Saint Augustus to his maiden win at the Meadowlands last fall, will ride. Saint Augustus is one of two horses trainer Todd Pletcher plans to run in the Florida Derby along with Sunriver.

Barbaro will be the favorite in a Florida Derby field which also is expected to include Flashy Bull, Rehoboth, and Sharp Humor.

Rose outdoing his own expectations

Jockey Jeremy Rose has already won an Eclipse Award and two-thirds of the 2005 Triple Crown with Afleet Alex. But the Maryland native, who will celebrate his 27th birthday on Florida Derby Day next Saturday, came into his first Gulfstream Park meeting this winter with only modest expectations.

"I came down here hoping to just finish in the top 15 against this riding colony," Rose said after riding his second winner of the day aboard Code of Justice in Thursday's fourth race. "So the fact I've done as well as I have has exceeded all my expectations. And just the experience of riding against all these great jockeys is going to make me an even better rider down the rode."

Rose's riding double on Thursday gave him 37 wins for the meet and kept him firmly entrenched in sixth place in the standings.

"My agent John Breedon has done a great job for me and I'm also grateful for the support I've received from all the Maryland- and Delaware-based trainers I've ridden for in the past. Guys like Dale Capuano, Mike Gorham, Mike Petro, and Steve Klesaris. I was also hoping to make some new connections down here this winter and that happened when Nick Zito began giving me a good shot earlier in the meet."

Rose's most notable victory thus far this winter came for Klesaris aboard his promising 3-year-old filly Miraculous Miss, who rallied from last to win the Grade 2 Forward Gal Stakes on March 12. She could make her next start in Keeneland's Grade 1 Ashland Stakes.

"Obviously it was great being able to ride a horse as talented as Afleet Alex and winning races like the Preakness and Belmont," said Rose. "Who knows if I'll ever have an opportunity to ride one that good again, although, like everybody else, I'm always hoping. Naturally, winning the Derby is my main goal, especially since that's the one I missed last year, and I'd love to be able to get back to Churchill Downs and try again this spring."

Whos Crying Now may go in Skip Away

Whos Crying Now, who finished fourth following a rough trip in the Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 4, worked four furlongs in 48.60 seconds at Calder on Thursday. In his second to last start, Whos Crying Now finished second behind Lava Man in the Sunshine Millions Classic at Santa Anita.

Whos Crying Now might make his next start in the Grade 3 Skip Away Handicap on the Florida Derby undercard.