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Brisco Jack's repeat is one for ages

When Brisco Jack won the Pelican Stakes last season, he was owned by Donald Murray, trained by Evelio Gomez and ridden by Ricardo Lopez. Further, he was a 3-year-old.

When the gelding by Solar Jack made it two straight by winning the 14th running of the Pelican Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs, he had a new owner (Martin Cherry), a new trainer (Ray Tamargo), a new jockey (Bill Henry), and he was a 5-year-old.

How can a horse age two years in one season? Simple. When Brisco Jack won last season, the race was on Dec. 27, 1997, five days before he turned 4. This time the race was on Jan. 2, a day after he turned 5.

Last time, Brisco Jack had a prep race over the track and used it to good advantage. He drew an inside post for the Pelican, and Lopez rushed him to the lead, fought off challengers into the stretch, then won by 3\ lengths in 1:12 1/5 for the 6 furlongs.

This time, leaving from the difficult No. 14 post, Brisco Jack raced back in the pack down the backstretch, made a strong move on the turn, then rallied to win by nearly 2 lengths in 1:10 2/5. That over a surface that has been souped up somewhat in the off-season, with clockings in the first three weeks averaging about a second faster than before.

Although Brisco Jack won another race at Tampa Bay Downs during the 1997-98 meeting, he came into the Pelican with a seven-race losing streak. In his career, the gelding is 9-6-2 in 32 starts. Saturday's $17,310 check raised his earnings to $155,899.

It also was another good payday for Tina Teegarden and Carol Mobley, who bred the horse at Teegarden's Solar Meadows Farm, a facility run strictly on solar energy. The resident stallion, Solar Jack, is sire of Brisco Jack. Teegarden and Mobley split a breeders award amounting to 15 percent of the Pelican purse of $28,850, and Teegarden added a 20 percent stallion award to her total.

Based on his losing streak, Brisco Jack was sent off at 11-1 and paid $24. Last time, after he finished second in his prep race, he paid just $9.

Ochosi, the 2-1 favorite under Pedro Rodriguez, made a strong move on the final turn but finished eighth, creating huge payoffs. When Blues Away, at 51-1, finished second, followed by 6-1 Man the Shipp, the 11-10-8 trifecta paid $15,242.

SOLID START: Arabian racing is in full swing at Tampa Bay Downs, the capital of the sport every winter after Delaware Park takes over in the summer and fall. One of the promising newcomers is 5-year-old filly Aer Wiqueen, who was 4 when she won her first try over the track on Dec. 31. The daughter of Wiking won her first start at Delaware Park by 8\ lengths June 28 and didn't race again until Aug. 29, when she won the $10,000 ARC Distaff by 4{ lengths under Carl Williams.

Williams was aboard again Thursday when Aer Wiqueen made it three in a row, scoring by 7\ lengths and seemingly breaking the 5{-furlong track record for Arabians. There is confusion concerning the record. The Daily Racing Form lists it twice at 1:13 2/5 and once at 1:13 3/5. Aer Wiqueen was clocked in 1:13:38, according to the new method of posting times to the nearest hundredth, and 1:13:38 translates to 1:13 1/5. Whatever the time, Aer Wiqueen looks like an up-and-coming star with three victories by a combined 20 lengths.

DERBY LANE: The Don Abernathy Kennel posted six victories, collecting the largest purses from Husker Director's and Circus Esther's top grade wins Saturday. The 21 competing kennels presented their best racers to a combined matinee and evening crowd of over 12,000, the largest in recent years.

E.J. Alderson presented three of the six juveniles out of Hey Vern and Unkel Princess. Jam Zone raced a respectable third to Zone Defense in the Puppy Preview and Con Air and Last Word Wally won their maiden races. The remaining brothers and sisters will compete during the next three performances: American Vision in Race 7 today, Babar in tonight's Race 5 and Tracey Ullman in Tuesday night's Race 3.

Since their Derby Lane debut in 1996, Charter has gone from 14th place during its inaugural meeting to the area's winningest kennel three consecutive seasons. In 1997, Charter topped the standings at Tampa. Last year, Charter concluded the Derby Lane season by pulling ahead of Greymeadow Kennel in the final days of the meeting. Last week at Tampa, Charter finished on top again and its racer, Extreme Heat, was named the season's win leader with 21.

On Tuesday night, Extreme Heat attempts to improve on his 29 trifecta finishes in 31 starts in the featured 10th race.

_ Correspondent Vera Filipelli contributed to this report.