02/23/2008 1:00AM

Cosmonaut returns with a win


Cosmonaut, the heavy favorite, made his 2008 debut a winning one in the $150,000 Tampa Bay Downs Breeders’ Cup Stakes, taking the 1 1/16-mile turf race by three-quarters of a length.

Under Edgar Prado, Cosmonaut prompted the slow early pace set by longshot Archers Alydancer over a Tampa turf course turned soft by heavy rains, then moved to a clear lead in the second turn. Turning into the stretch, Ballonenostrikes and Rosemary Homeister Jr. ranged up outside Cosmonaut, and it looked for a moment like the favorite might be in trouble. But after a few well-timed raps of the left-handed stick by Prado, Cosmonaut turned back the challenge.

Ballonenostrikes finished second, a half-length clear of third-place Soldier’s Dancer, who closed along the far outside from last. Classic Campaign was fourth.

Cosmonaut ($3.60) ran the 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.14.

The win was the seventh from 29 starts for Cosmonaut and his sixth win on the turf. He earned $90,000, bringing his career earnings to $1,222,763.

Phil Serpe trains Cosmonaut.