01/08/2009 1:00AM

Blind River Fox sharp since his last


Blind River Fox, a travel-hardened veteran with 21 victories, was a smashing winner in a turf sprint in his first Tampa Bay Downs outing this season. He tries stakes company at Tampa on Saturday when he tops a field of solid field of 10 sprinters entered in the $65,000 Pelican Stakes at six furlongs.

Willie Martinez rode Blind River Fox to victory last time out, when the 7-year old made his first start for the Gerald Bennett barn. Martinez will be back aboard when Blind River Fox makes his first start on dirt since finishing second at Tampa in a starter allowance sprint last April.

According to Bennett, Blind River Fox is training with enthusiasm.

"He worked a half in 47 and change the other morning, which was a bullet work," Bennett said. "He came out of the the last race great. He's been a happy horse around the barn and seems to heading into this race just the right way."

Bennett claimed Blind River Fox for $50,000 from his final start of 2008 at Presque Isle Downs, taking the gelding from the Scott Lake barn. In 14 outings last season while racing on dirt, turf, and the Tapeta all-weather surface at Presque Isle, Blind River Fox won 4 races and finished second in 5 others while competing against high-priced claiming, starter allowance, and allowance runners. He has finished first or second in 39 of his 53 lifetime starts and has career earnings of $329,368.

Last time out, Blind River Fox chased the leaders into the stretch of a five-furlong Tampa allowance, then ran down Castles in the Sky in the final strides for a hard-earned head win. covering the distance in 57.89 seconds, a very fast clocking considering the fact the inner rail was set out 22 feet.

He's So Chic, who last saw action when second to Fabulous Strike in the Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct, is also entered in the Pelican, but his trainer, Jason Servis, is unsure whether his charge will start.

"We're going to take a look at the field and then make a decision," Servis said from his Palm Beach Training Center headquarters.

He's So Chic was second to Jamie Ness's crack sprinter Lookinforthesecret in last year's Pelican and went on in 2008 to win a pair of races and earn $97,000 in seven starts.

Bold Start, who also won four races last season, including a stakes at Ellis Park, is slated to make his first start of 2009 and deserves consideration along with On the Vineyard, who looked very good winning an allowance prep for the Pelican on Dec. 19.