03/01/2007 12:00AM

Potra Clasica drops in after two graded stakes


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Potra Clasica, who has been knocking heads with graded stakes rivals in her last two races, may find the competition a bit more palatable at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday when she heads a field of 10 fillies and mares in the $60,000 Wayward Lass Stakes.

The Argentine-bred Potra Clasica will be seeking her eighth win from 21 starts in the 1 1/16-mile Wayward Lass. Jose Lezcano rides Potra Clasica, the 120-pound highweight.

Potra Clasica took 3 of 8 races in a light campaign last season. She won the Grade 3 Hollywood Wildcat Breeders' Cup Handicap on the turf at Calder in front-running fashion and also took the Connie Ann, an overnight stakes that was taken off the turf and moved to the main track at Calder in December.

Potra Clasica was roughed up early in her most recent effort, the Grade 3 Suwannee River Handicap on the turf at Gulfstream, but was gaining ground late to be third.

While Potra Clasica will garner a good deal of public support, several others in the Wayward Lass are worthy of consideration, including locally based Gadolinium, a winner of 2 of 3 outings this meet and a fast-closing second to Summer Cruise in the seven-furlong Manatee Stakes. Running Lass has been a consistent performer in south Florida. She won 3 of 18 races last season, including the Storm Frolic Handicap, and finished third in Take D' Tour's 14-length romp in the Grade 3 Stage Door Betty Handicap at Calder.

Daniel Centeno will again handle Gadolinium, while Vernon Bush has been named on Running Lass. Both horses will carry 116.

Nijinsky Bullet, who led to the stretch of the Florida Breeders' Distaff on Champions Day at Ocala in her last start, figures to be a pace factor in the Wayward Lass along with Funny Annie and For Gillian. The late closers Saffronista and Leona's Knight give bettors other angles to pursue.

Attendance down, handle up

Unseasonably cool and damp weather has kept ontrack crowds down a bit this season at Tampa Bay Downs, but overall business has continued to be good as the track moves into the final two months of the season.

According to vice president and general manager Pete Berube, ontrack attendance is down 2 percent this season from last year's meet, with an average of 3,240 a day. Ontrack average handle is down less than 1 percent.

But a strong simulcast network and the continuing popularity of Tampa's racing product around the country has produced an all-sources average daily handle of more than $3.8 million, a 4 percent increase over the 2005-06 meeting.

The increase in business has resulted in overnight purses being increased an average of $5,000 per day effective March 11.

* Tampa-based jockey Daniel Centeno led the country in races won with 75 victories through Feb. 27, 17 more than runner-up Joe Talamo, who rides at Fair Grounds.