12/30/2003 12:00AM

Tropical Oaks missing several top contenders


MIAMI - Thursday's $100,000 Tropical Park Oaks lost its likely favorite when Vous, winner of the Hollywood Wildcat Stakes here Nov. 29, was withdrawn from consideration earlier this week due to a minor illness. The Oaks may also have lost its two best remaining contenders at entry time, when Honey Ryder and My Amandari ended up on the also-eligible list.

The Oaks is run under allowance conditions for 3-year-old fillies and is restricted to 12 starters. Sixteen horses were entered for the event, with high weights preferred when it came to determining eligibility.

My Amandari and Honey Ryder have each recorded only a maiden victory and were thus assigned 111 pounds for the Oaks, as were six other members of the prospective lineup. That group drew for the four remaining spots in the body of the race, and My Amandari and Honey Ryder came out on the short end of the stick.

Honey Ryder figured to be the favorite if she had drawn into the Oaks. She finished second, a head behind Vous, in the Hollywood Wildcat, despite getting shuffled back a bit in traffic near the five-eighths pole. My Amandari, who won her only previous start on grass this fall at Belmont, had an even unluckier trip in the Hollywood Wildcat - she was blocked behind a wall of horses while appearing to be full of run near midstretch. She eventually finished seventh, beaten 2 1/4 lengths.

Honey Ryder and My Amandari have another common bond. Honey Ryder is trained by Todd Pletcher, and My Amandari hails from the barn of Pletcher's former assistant George Weaver. Weaver will be represented in the Oaks by Really American, who returns off a recent allowance victory at Tampa Bay Downs.

Among the major contenders left in the Oaks are the undefeated Grade 3 stakes winner Pink Champagne, who has been idle since capturing Woodbine's Natalma Stakes on Sept. 6; recent maiden winner Wekiva Mist; stakes winner America America; and the graded stakes-placed Bobbie Use.

Mr. Prospector could be last for Wake at Noon

Wake at Noon's reign as Canada's Horse of the Year was to end at midnight Wednesday. But he still has some business to take care of before likely being retired to the breeding shed later this winter.

will be in the starting lineup for the $100,000 Mr. Prospector Handicap on Saturday, opening day at Gulfstream Park, and the race could be the final start of his career.

Owner-breeder Bruno Schickedanz sent Wake at Noon down to Calder-based trainer Henry Collazo after the Woodbine meeting, and Wake at Noon nearly stole the Kenny Noe Jr. Handicap in his 2003 finale, yielding to the rail-skimming Hasty Kris in the final strides of the seven-furlong dash.

"I don't think either he or the rider saw that other horse coming until they were alongside us," said Collazo. "To Wake at Noon's credit, he came back again after being headed for the lead and never gave up."

Even though Wake at Noon was voted Canada's top sprinter in 2002, the Kenny Noe marked his first start around one turn in nearly six months. He won three races, all stakes, during his 6-year-old campaign in 2003 and will enter the Mr. Prospector with career earnings of over $1.5 million.

"Right now, I'm fairly certain Mr. Schickedanz's plans are to breed him, and the Mr. Prospector could be his final start," said Collazo. "It sure would be another feather in his cap if he could go out a winner against a field that will include the Breeders' Cup Sprint champion [Cajun Beat]."

Collazo shipped Wake at Noon over to Gulfstream to get a feel for the track Sunday. He worked three furlongs in 35 with jockey Horatio Karamanos aboard.