12/21/2009 1:00AM

Pecoraro's runners all fit and firing

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OLDSMAR, Fla. - Anthony Pecoraro has been racing at Tampa Bay Downs long enough to know that there is no substitute for fitness when horses race over this safe but sandy and somewhat tiring racing strip.

Having his runners prepared for the beginning of this meeting has paid off as Pecoraro has jumped out to the early lead in the trainers' race despite having just 10 horses on the grounds. With a training double last Saturday, Pecoraro has now won with 7 of his first 10 starters over the first five days of this meet through Saturday.

Pecoraro, 46, has raced for years in Florida as well as the tracks of the Mid-Atlantic region. He burst from the gate on opening day here Dec. 12 by taking the first three races on the program. He came back last Thursday with a training double, sending out R B Higher Ground ($8.80) for Delaware owner Beverly Ferguson in the fifth race, then scoring two races later with Country In ($20.60).

Pecoraro has been putting in a lot of time on the interstate system between here and south Florida as he also has a string of horses at Gulfstream Park. He was en route from Hallandale Beach, where Gulfstream is located, to Tampa the other day when he talked about his stable's early success.

"We tried to focus on getting a good early start at Tampa," said Pecoraro. "Much of our stock had been racing up north and were pretty fit already, then when we got in here we continued to train them steadily because it's survival of the fittest here. Fortunately, we put them in the right spot and had some luck, so we're very pleased to be doing so well."

While much of his stable consists claiming types, Pecoraro also has a couple of 2-year-olds he plans to race on Cotillion Festival Day this Saturday, when the entire program will be devoted to juveniles.

"I've got a Milwaukee Brew colt named Thunder Brew and a Road Accolade gelding named My Charming Clyde who are winners already," Pecoraro said. "As a matter of fact, My Charming Clyde is 3 for 6 lifetime and has done well for us."

Homeister enjoys four-win day

Rosemary Homeister Jr. is off to a good start at the meet with eight winners through Saturday. She dazzled the fans here last Thursday by winning four races, including the final three on the program.

Homeister took the sixth on the grass with Tri Power ($32.20), then came back to take the eighth aboard Jackie's Causeway ($5.40), the ninth with Orgue ($5.20), and the nightcap with Fasola ($4.40).

Homeister, who won an Eclipse Award as the nation's top apprentice in 1992, ranks second all-time in wins by a female jockey behind Julie Krone.

Minaret may be next for Perf

Perf, a most impressive winner in a six-furlong open allowance sprint on opening day, will be nominated for the $65,000 Minaret Stakes for older fillies and mares at six furlongs here on Jan. 2.

Perf , who will turn 4 next week, is also under consideration for the $300,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at 1 1/8 miles at Gulfstream on Jan. 30.