03/01/2008 1:00AM

Ness winning at 40 percent


OLDSMAR, Fla. – Trainer Jamie Ness has been setting a hot pace almost since this Tampa Bay meeting began, and last week was nothing short of torrid.

From Feb. 23 to 28 Ness saddled seven winners. He won once on Feb. 23, came back with a three-bagger Feb. 24, took two races Feb. 26, then won another race Feb. 28. His streak was stopped on Friday, but he still came into Saturday’s program with 41 winners, 18 more than second-place Dale Bennett. His incredible win percentage of 40 shows just what kind of meet he’s having.

Several other trainers had a good week in their own right. Gerald Bennett, whose outfit slumped a bit after a fast start, got back on track, sending out three winners, while his wife, Mary, also won a race. Derek Ryan and Forrest Kaelin each won twice last week, while Michael Simone had three winners during the same period.

Greg Griffith had four winners between Feb. 20 and 26, earning him trainer of the month honors from the track. Griffith, who is having one of his best local meetings, is third in the standings with 16 winners.

Griffith and Simone each recently sent out promising youngsters to win maiden races.

Simone saddled Time Tells All, who drew off smartly through the final furlong of a five-furlong dash to romp home an easy winner over Many Mesas, a half-sister to stakes winner Trainee. Time Tells All was timed in 57.54 seconds.

Griffith won with the first-time starter Song of Greatness, who dead-heated for the win in a seven-furlong maiden race Feb. 24. Not many first-time starters win going seven furlongs over this sandy strip, and Griffith was happy for the 3-year-old’s owner-breeders, Kinsman Farm.

“That win was the first for the homebred stallion Crown Delite, and it meant a lot to both myself and the farm,” he said.

On the rider’s side of the coin, Daniel Centeno is on another planet, having won 85 races through 55 racing programs.

Others who have been riding in good form include Irwin Rosendo, who won seven races in the past week after teaming up with agent Tom Stift. Stift, who had some top riders in the Mid-Atlantic region in the late 1990s, left racing for seven years but is back with a rejuvenated attitude, which he apparently has passed on to his new rider. Rosendo now has 16 winners at the meeting.

Rosemary Homeister Jr., who was in a mini-slump for a bit, broke loose with a riding triple on Thursday and now has 42 winners at the meeting. Luis Gonzalez had a riding double among his tallies last week and has 29 wins at the stand, while both Pablo Morales and Carlos Montalvo continue to ride in good form.