12/05/2005 12:00AM

Feliciano's entire barn hot


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Trainer Benny Feliciano appears to have an excellent chance of extending his winning streak to nine races when he sends out El Keko in Wednesday's fifth race at Thistledown, a two-mile starter allowance marathon. is the 7-5 morning line favorite in the seven-horse field.

Feliciano's eight straight wins have come from just three horses El Keko, who has won his last two starts, and Clever Jimmy C. and Shades of Time, who both have won three in a row. Feliciano's streak began Oct. 20 when Clever Jimmy C. won a conditioned $3,500 claiming race. Feliciano's most recent win came in a $5,000 claimer with Shades of Time on Dec. 1. His starters have raced exclusively at Thistledown.

Shades of Time was claimed out of his most recent win, reducing Feliciano's stable to two horses.

The modern day North American record for consecutive wins by a trainer is 14, set by Frank Passero at the 1996 Gulfstream meet. Other notable winning streaks belong to Pat Byrne, who won nine straight races at Keeneland and Churchill in the spring of 1997, and Joe Woodard, who won 10 straight races at Churchill Downs last spring. Woodard's wins, however, were interspersed with several losses at River Downs.

Feliciano, 54, came to Thistledown in 1972 and several years later began a successful riding career. In 1975 he won the Ohio Derby with Brent's Prince.

In 1981, his riding career was interrupted when he was banned from riding by the Illinois Racing Board for possessing an electrical device. Feliciano's suspension lasted nine years.

"The suspension was very hard to take, but in retrospect it may have been a blessing," Feliciano said. "To support my wife Millie and two children, Ricardo and Carmen, I went to Ocala and galloped horses and broke yearlings for some of the top trainers in the country. During those years I learned the right way to take care of and train a racehorse."

Feliciano's record as a trainer supports that statement. Since taking out his first trainer's license in 1999, he has won 106 races from 516 starters, a 20 percent average.

All the winners in Feliciano's streak have been ridden by his son, Ricardo Feliciano. He is one of Thistledown's top jockeys and the winningest stakes rider in Ohio this year.