11/27/2004 1:00AM

Silver Wagon back soon


MIAMI - The Silver Wagon is about ready to roll. The Grade 1 stakes winner worked five furlongs in 1:02 over a cuppy racetrack here Saturday morning and may be as little as three weeks away from launching his comeback.

Silver Wagon has not started since finishing third behind Read the Footnotes and Second of June in the Grade 2 Fountain of Youth Stakes on Feb. 14. Owned by Mahmoud Fustok's Buckram Oak Farm, Silver Wagon was preparing for the Grade 1 Florida Derby when trainer Ralph Ziadie felt something was wrong with the 3-year-old colt. Subsequent X-rays revealed that Silver Wagon had a chip in the upper joint of his left knee and a spur in the right knee.

Silver Wagon was given most of the summer off to recuperate from surgery to remove the chip before returning to Ziadie's barn here this fall. Saturday's work was his fifth recorded drill on the comeback trail and the fastest of 20 works at the distance on Saturday.

"He's doing really well," said Ziadie. "If everything went along without a hitch he could be ready to run in the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap. He'll probably need a race the first time back and he's never really run well over this track, but we've got to start him back somewhere and that would be the ideal spot."

The Kenny Noe Jr. is carded at seven furlongs on Dec. 18.

Caballero Negro looking good

The most impressive work turned in during training hours on Saturday came near the end of the morning, when Caballero Negro worked a mile in 1:41.80 over the slow track.

The 3-year-old Caballero Negro is coming off a fourth-place finish behind Eddington in the Grade 3 Calder Derby and could make his next start in the $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes on Dec. 11. The Axthelm is written for 3-year-olds going 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf.

Sendoff for retiring Homeister

Rosemary Homeister Jr., one of the top riders here for the past decade, was honored in the winner's circle after Saturday's fourth race. Homeister, the 1992 Eclipse Award winner as the nation's leading apprentice, announced her retirement from the saddle earlier this month.

Homeister, accompanied by her husband, Jose Ferrer, and the remainder of the local jockey colony, was presented with a collage recounting some of the most memorable moments of her career by Calder president Ken Dunn.

Deputy Lad faces six in feature

Deputy Lad heads a field of seven second-level optional claiming and allowance horses entered for Monday's $27,000 main event.

Deputy Lad rallied from the back of the pack to finish second, beaten a half-length, under similar conditions earlier this month. The 4-year-old was overmatched in the Flying Pidgeon Handicap in his previous start.

Halo's for Hibiscus is the lone speed in the field and could prove an upset threat, despite the fact that he has failed to hit the board in six previous starts this season.