12/15/2007 12:00AM

All I Can Get looks strong again

EmailOLDSMAR, Fla. - The half-mile pole gap to the Tampa Bay Downs main track is a busy place in the morning. On Saturday, quite a few horses were headed there from barn 12B, the headquarters of trainer Gerald Bennett.

The Bennett operation is in the final weeks of yet another successful year, having won 110 races from 466 starters in 2007.

"We've had a good year and a lot has to do with the help at the barn," Bennett said. "My wife, Mary, handles many of the duties, and she's really the secret weapon. And we've got good help right down the line, from our exercise riders to our hotwalkers."

Last spring Bennett brought a Slew City Slew gelding named All I Can Get to Tampa, and the Michigan-bred proved he had ability, finishing second to the Todd Pletcher-trained Any Given Saturday in the $146,000 Sam Davis Stakes, then leading the way into the stretch of the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby before fading to fifth behind Street Sense, the eventual Kentucky Derby winner.

This past summer, All I Can Get won three straight Michigan-bred stakes at Great Lakes Downs, then traveled to Hawthorne to try the turf for the first time in the Grade 3 Hawthorne Derby. He faded to 10th racing over a course Bennett described as chewed-up, then was shipped to Tampa, where he has been turning heads with his morning drills.

All I Can Get has worked five-eighths in 1:00.20 and a good half-mile in 48.80 seconds.

"He couldn't be doing better," Bennett said. The trainer intends to give All I Can Get a prep race before the six-furlong Pelican Stakes on Jan. 13.

"I think he's going to be even better this season with more experience under his belt," Bennett said.

Another Bennett trainee, Bucky's Prayer, finished second in the Lightning City Stakes on opening day. Bennett said Bucky's Prayer, a hard-knocking turf sprinter, had some poor racing luck in that five-furlong dash.

"She was trapped down inside where it was a little soft and never got an opening to the eighth pole," he explained, "She came back well, and we'll shop around for some spots for her."

Jockey colony looks tops

The riding colony, which has grown stronger in recent years, looks to be deepest ever this year.

Jose Velez Jr. has won more than 3,000 races lifetime, while Daniel Centeno certainly has to be considered a top threat to repeat as leading jockey after his 125-win season here in 2006-07. But with top riders like Luis Gonzalez, Federico Mata, Carlos Montalvo, Rosemary Homeister Jr., Jose Ferrer, Tammi Piermarini, Juan Lopez, Willie Martinez, and others here this season, insiders are betting the winning total for leading rider this season will be somewhere around 85 victories.