01/10/2008 12:00AM

D'artagnans'spirit starts season in familiar fashion


OLDSMAR, Fla. - D'artagnans'spirit, winner of the Super Stakes here at Tampa Bay last season, returns Saturday as a lukewarm favorite in the $65,000 Pelican Stakes.

D'artagnans'spirit is coming off a fast-closing second in the $35,000 Radar Love Stakes at Calder on Nov. 24. He raced several lengths off the early pace in the 6 1/2-furlong Radar Love before unleashing a strong late run that fell a neck short of Finallymadeit. D'artagnans'spirit, 6, won 2 of 7 starts last season while racing mostly against stakes company. In addition to the seven-furlong Super Stakes, which he won from off the pace, he also took a division of the five-furlong Calder Turf Sprint that was taken off the grass. Once again, he closed well to run down the leaders.

D'artagnans'spirit will begin his 2008 season much like he did last year, by shipping in from Calder off a short layoff for the six-furlong Pelican. Last year, he finished third in the Pelican and went on to win the Super Stakes in his next start.

Pedro Cotto Jr. will handle D'artagnans'spirit for trainer Kirk Ziadie.

Topping the challengers in Saturday's eight-horse field are Lookinforthesecret, winner of a rapidly run five-furlong allowance sprint here while making his first start since October, and Put Back the Shu, who came off a long layoff to score a half-length victory in a prep for the Pelican on Dec. 22.

Daniel Centeno will handle Lookinforthesecret for trainer Jamie Ness, while Carlos Montalvo returns aboard Put Back the Shu for trainer Lynn Scace.

Lookinforthesecret led throughout to win a five-furlong dash taken off the turf by 1 1/4 lengths on Dec. 22. He captured 8 of his 13 races in 2007 for earnings of $192,580. His wins included the Honor the Hero Turf Express Stakes and Minnesota HBPA Sprint at Canterbury as well as the Turf Dash here.

Put Back the Shu has won 5 of 16 lifetime starts and was game through a long drive to win his first start in 10 months on Dec. 22. Another Pelican entrant, Its His Time, from the Ron Allen Sr. stable, was second, just a half-length behind Put Back the Shu in that race while his making first start since September.

Rice memorial planned for Sunday

A memorial service will be held for trainer Don Rice in the winner's circle here at 11:15 a.m. Sunday. Rice, an eight-time leading trainer at Tampa Bay Downs, died last Sunday from injuries suffered in an accident at his Ocala-area farm.