02/06/2010 1:00AM

Musket Man holds on to win Super Stakes

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Don Haines/Tom Cooley
Musket Man (right), away since last May, holds off Guam Typhoon to win the Super Stakes by a neck.

OLDSMAR, Fla. - Musket Man justified his role as the overwhelming favorite of the 20th running of the $75,000 Super Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by turning back a determined bid from Guam Typhoon through the final three-sixteenths of a mile, coming away with a hard-earned neck victory in his first start since finishing third behind Rachel Alexandra in last year's Preakness Stakes.

Musket Man, reunited with jockey Daniel Centeno for the first time since the pair teamed up to win the 2009 Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby, was sent off as the 2-5 choice in the seven-horse field but took the worst of it early and was forced to race five wide to the turn while prompting a pace that included a quarter-mile in 22.99 seconds and half-mile in 46.25.

Leaving the turn, Centeno gained a short lead with Musket Man but was joined from the outset by Guam Typhoon and jockey Leandro Goncalves, and the pair went at it hammer and tong though a long stretch drive, but Musket Man refused to give in and held his short lead to the finish.

It was almost 10 lengths back to the third-place finisher, Chief Talkeetna, with Weslinn, who had been squeezed back early, finishing fourth. Weslinn's rider, Rosemary Homeister Jr., claimed foul against the first three finishers for interference after the start, and there was also a stewards inquiry, but the result was permitted to stand as originally posted.

Musket Man, trained by Derek Ryan, covered the seven furlongs over a fast racing strip in 1:23.10 to win his sixth race from nine career starts and the $30,000 winner's share ran his career earnings to $923,600.