01/29/2009 12:00AM

Rising Fever, Star Operator clash going longer

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OLDSMAR, Fla. - The Brazilian star Rising Fever closed like a shot to finish second, beaten a neck by graded stakes winner Dream Rush, in the six-furlong Minaret Stakes on Jan. 3 while making her U.S. debut. She will get the additional distance she seems to need on Saturday, when she heads a field of eight sprinters in the $65,000 Manatee Stakes at seven furlongs.

Rising Fever won 6 of her 7 starts in Brazil, winning at distances from six furlongs to a mile, including the the Grade 2 Grande Premio Immensity against males by seven lengths in her final South America start.

Sent to the Christophe Clement barn, Rising Fever trained impressively at Payson Park for her U.S. debut, then came from last in the field of nine in the Minaret with a rush along the outside that fell a just neck short in a six-furlong race that was timed in a quick 1:10.73.

Daniel Centeno replaces Luis Gonzalez aboard Rising Fever as the Clement trainee makes only her second start since July. The 5-year-old mare will carry 116 pounds under the allowance conditions of the Manatee.

Star Operator, third behind Dream Rush and Rising Fever on Jan. 3, should also appreciate the extra furlong of the Manatee. She deserves a long look with Rosemary Homeister Jr. returning to ride.

Star Operator was making her first start for the powerful Kirk Ziadie barn in the Minaret and turned in a good effort, looming a threat inside the final sixteenth before coming up a length short. A five-time career winner, Star Operator split time between allowance and minor stakes-level company at Woodbine in 2008, winning 2 of 10 starts.

Dee's Rose, who came off a short break to score a front-running win against some tough sprinters in her only local start, may be the one to catch. Andrew Ramgeet rides for trainer Dale Bennett.

Tar Heel Mom, who won 3 of 7 starts last season, including an overnight stakes at Aqueduct, also figures to be close to the early pace. Trained by Stan Hough, she will be making her season debut.

Another contender is Adhrhythm, who ran third to Rolling Sea in the Truly Bound Stakes at Fair Grounds, and now turns back to a sprint. She won 4 of 12 starts last year, including a $75,000 handicap at Mountaineer.