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Built Up favorite in Pelican Stakes

The hottest jockey on the grounds will ride the morning-line favorite, a combination sure to draw plenty of attention in today's 21st running of the $60,000 Pelican Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs.

Leading rider Jesus Castanon will be aboard Built Up, a 6-year-old Florida-bred gelding listed as a 3-1 favorite in the 6-furlong race. A field of 14 4-year-olds and up is entered in the featured event, the 10th race on the card. Post time at about 4:25 p.m.

Castanon, who won last year's riding title, has gotten off to a blazing start. Heading into Friday's card, the 31-year-old native of Mexico City had posted 16 wins in 45 mounts. Castanon's in-the-money showings stood at 67 percent, with 10 seconds and four thirds. His meet earnings of $162,448 rank first.

Built Up will carry 122 pounds from the No. 4 post on the dirt track. Trained by Raymond Susi and conditioned by Enrique Alonso, Built Up has won $758,518.

The rest of the field, in post position order: Bog Hunter, Tour the Hive, Scrubs, Above the Wind, Avid Skier, Model Home, Sing Me Back Home, Slider, Five Card Monty, Raymond Springs, Long Term Success, Hitthegroundrunninand Ranger Chance.

Above the Wind will attempt to become the third two-time champ of the Pelican after his 2003 victory at 65-1 odds. It was one of two Tampa stakes victories by the 7-year-old Michigan-bred, who won the Super Stakes under the training of Ronald Allen Sr. Federico Mata will be in the irons. Not Surprising (1994-95) and Brisco Jack (1997-98) also won twice.

T.D. Houghton will be aboard Avid Skier, trained by Gerald Bennett and conditioner of 2002 Pelican winner Secret Romeo. Houghton was selected by Tampa Bay Downs officials as the track's rider of the month for December. He ranks sixth nationally with 283 victories and $2.7-million in earnings this season. He entered Friday second in the track's rider standings with nine wins.

The Pelican is the second of 25 stakes races. Tampa Bay Downs will have at least one stakes race on the next 12 Saturdays. This will be the busiest month on the schedule with live racing on 26 of 31 days (excluding Tuesdays).

RECORD SETTER: O'Malley set a track record of 1:16.99 for 6{ furlongs Friday. O'Malley was ridden by Houghton in the eighth race, returning $53.80.

ANNIVERSARY WEEK: Derby Lane in St. Petersburg celebrates its 80th season of greyhound racing Monday through Saturday. Special promotions are scheduled each day. Leading kennel Bahama Mama Greyhounds had the top two winners entering Friday's card. Festive Event, sidelined with a dislocated toe, has 14 victories in 16 starts. Non Stop Fun was next with 13 in 17 outings. Dreamsicle of the Cal Holland Kennel joined the 10-win club Wednesday in his 20th start.

_ DON JENSEN, Times correspondent