01/03/2008 12:00AM

Meredith Bee steps up into stakes

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Meredith Bee hasn't faced stakes company in her nine-race career, but her solid record at the allowance level may be enough to earn her the role of favorite at Tampa Bay Downs when a field of 10 well-matched fillies and mares goes postward in the $65,000 Minaret Stakes at six furlongs.

Meredith Bee, an El Corredor filly trained by Hall of Famer Bill Mott, shoots for her second win in a row. Last time out at Calder, Meredith Bee came off a five-week break and rallied from last to run down the leaders and come away with a neck victory over Quality Affair, who was almost 13 lengths in front of the third-place finisher and who came back to win her next start.

Last season, Meredith Bee raced with tough allowance rivals on the New York and Kentucky circuits, facing such notables as Graeme Six, Sequoia Queen, and Miss Tizzy, who is also in the Minaret field. She finished worse than fourth just once, and with her late-running style, Meredith Bee looks like she has a good chance to earn black type in a field loaded with speed types. No rider was named on Meredith Bee for the Minaret.

Miss Tizzy, who just held off Meredith Bee in an allowance at Belmont, took the Dream Supreme Stakes at Saratoga and finished second to Ticket to Seattle in the Peach Blossom Stakes at Delaware Park. She is trained by LeRoy Jolley and will be ridden by Jose Velez Jr.

Several locally based runners look to have legitimate chances in the Minaret, topped by Taylor Madison, who came off a six-week break with an eye-catching win over a solid field in a prep for Saturday's race. Taylor Madison ran third in last year's edition of this race and has the stalking style that should fit well today.

L's Lightning, who smoked a good field that included stakes winner Trainee in her tuneup for the Minaret, could be the best speed horse in the group, while Lil's Lassie finished second to Taylor Madison in her first start since February and has license to improve off that race.