03/28/2008 11:00PM

Pair of fillies top Bennett's big meet


OLDSMAR, Fla. - It's not often that a trainer has a meet where he sends out winners at a 30 percent clip and gets little notice for it, but that's just what's been happening with Dale Bennett this season.

Bennett came into Saturday's racing with 29 winners from 97 starters for a cool 30 percent success rate, but with training leader Jamie Ness capturing 50 races so far at the meeting, Bennett's fine winter has gone largely unnoticed.

Not only have the Bennett runners done well as a whole, but the horseman has also developed a pair of outstanding young fillies who could have bright futures: Dee's Rose and Unfolding Wish.

Dee's Rose missed the break in her debut here from the tough rail post going 6 1/2 furlongs but still wound up beaten less than three lengths in her debut, then came back to leave the winless ranks next time out by outgaming a filly trained by his father, Gerald Bennett - Moonshine Alice, who also looks like a filly with a future. Dee's Rose tried stakes company in her next two, setting the pace in the Suncoast, where she wound up fourth, and the Grade 3 Florida Oaks, where she faded to fifth behind Awesome Chic.

Dee's Rose is a Florida-bred and can be expected to see action in the Sophomore Fillies going seven furlongs against statebreds on Florida Cup Day.

Bennett's other 3-year-old star is also a Florida-bred. Unfolding Wish, a homebred from the Kinsman Farm of Yankees owner George Steinbrenner, won her first three starts, including two over the Tampa strip. She then had a very rough trip when third to eventual Florida Oaks winner Awesome Chic in the Gasparilla Stakes. Off the board in the Oaks after being fractious in the gate under Jose Velez Jr., Unfolding Wish has, like her stablemate, come back to work lights out since her last and is eligible for the Sophomore Fillies.

One interesting statistic about Bennett: He has started 20 horses in allowance races and won 9 of those for a 45 percent win rate, which shows that the quality of his stable is as strong as the quantity.

Velez bound for Arlington next

Speaking of Velez, the veteran jockey who has enjoyed a good amount of success here this season is heading to Arlington Park when this meeting concludes, according to his agent, Herson Sanchez.

"We've had some good response from several of the better stables that will be racing there this summer, plus I rode at Fairmount for a number of years and have a good rapport with a number of the Illinois-based trainers," said Sanchez, who handled Daniel Centeno's engagements here last season when the rider set a record for races won in a single meeting.

Velez has 51 winners at the current stand, which ranks him third behind Centeno's amazing 110 victories.

Allen riding well after his return

Nobody in the jockeys' room is riding any better right now than Ron Allen Jr. His win in the first race Saturday was his 14th victory since he returned to the saddle following a long layoff some six weeks back.

Allen has been riding for a number of solid stables, including that of Tom Proctor. He may return to Michigan this summer when the new Pinnacle Downs opens in Romulus.