09/26/2003 11:00PM

Sir Oscar nears date with destiny


MIAMI - Sir Oscar worked a mile in 1:47.40 here Saturday morning as he continues to prepare for the $400,000 In Reality Division of the Florida Stallion Stakes on Oct. 11.

Sir Oscar will bid to become the fifth horse to sweep the open division of the Stallion Stakes when he goes off as the favorite in the In Reality. Sir Oscar has won all four of his starts, including the six-furlong Dr. Fager and seven-furlong Affirmed divisions of the Stallion Stakes.

The In Reality will be decided at 1 1/16 miles, and the biggest question is Sir Oscar's ability to handle the distance. A son of Halo's Image, he has yet to run beyond seven furlongs. Trainer Manny Azpurua decided to pass an opportunity to give Sir Oscar a two-turn prep in last week's Foolish Pleasure Stakes, opting instead to train the colt up to the In Reality.

"The way he's been running I don't think he'll have any problem going two turns," said Azpurua, who trains Sir Oscar for owner Oscar Nova's International Fair Play Inc.

Saturday's work was the third for Sir Oscar since his 1 1/2-length victory over All True in the Affirmed on Aug. 30. He breezed a slow six furlongs in 1:17.40 last Sunday.

"I never work this horse hard," said Azpurua. "I jog him a lot and give him easy gallops and it keeps him in shape. The good thing is that he finished very strong this morning. He went the last quarter in 25.80 [seconds]."

Azpurua said that even if Sir Oscar completes a sweep of the Stallion Stakes with a victory in the In Reality he is not looking to run the homebred back in the Breeders' Cup at Santa Anita two weeks later.

"I'd like to just stay right here, let him grow up and mature, and wait for the big races next year," said Azpurua.

Sir Oscar will be joined in his quest to sweep the Stallion Stakes on the Oct. 11 Festival of the Sun card by French Village, who has already won the opening two legs of the filly division of the series. This is the first time in Stallion Stakes history that two horses have come into the final leg with a chance to sweep their divisions.

* Good O Valentine's victory in Friday's fourth race gave trainer Barry Rose the first victory of his career. Rose took out his trainer's license last week, following the passing of his father, trainer Harold Rose, who died earlier this month at the age of 92.