02/01/2003 12:00AM

Alexander starting to hit stride


OLDSMAR, Fla. - It was only a $5,000 claiming sprint, but when Pedro Rodriguez guided Unseen Power up the rail for a length win Friday, the folks over at the Bruce Alexander barn could breath a little easier.

Alexander came into this meet with some new clients, new runners, and was optimistic about his chances for success. But coming into Friday's race, he had won just three races from 25 starts. Now a 12 percent winning rate isn't terrible, but when you are used to winning 20 to 30 percent of your races, it's cause for concern.

There are several reasons for Alexander's slow start this meeting. He has double his normal number of runners and several runners sent to him off claims at Woodbine turned out to be overvalued purchases. Then, when Mike Davila, the jockey who had been slated to handle most of the Alexander runners, was sidelined in the opening days of the meeting until he could get down to riding weight, Alexander had to scramble to find replacement riders, many of whom had never been on his runners in the morning.

Many wondered what had happened to the Alexander magic, but with Friday's winner and one of the best runners in the barn, Silent Thunder, finishing third Saturday in a prep for the Tampa Bay Downs Breeders' Cup Stakes, things look like they're turning around. Look for the Alexander runners to show improved performances in the weeks to come.

Fast Spot, fast debut

When Fast Spot cruised home here by 7 1/2 lengths on Thursday, fans may have seen a future stakes star.

Fast Spot, an Unbridled colt from the Relaunch mare Herbs and Spices, led at every pole. What made the effort special was his fractional and final time for the seven furlongs. After a quarter in 22.70 seconds and half in 45.65, Fast Spot drew off, hitting the furlong marker in 1:10.81 and stopping the timer in 1:24.20, a very fast time over this surface.

By contrast, fillies and mares in the Jan. 25 Manatee covered seven furlongs in 1:25.51 while male handicappers that day went seven furlongs in the Super Stakes in 1:24.47.