01/22/2005 12:00AM

Scott's runners are looking good

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OLDSMAR, Fla. - Handicappers sometimes try to get a line on a stable racing at a track for the first time by the appearance of its runners. When an outfit's horses are well behaved in the paddock, then come onto the racetrack looking bright and vibrant, they often perform well.

Since this meeting started, horses from the barn of trainer Joan Scott have not only won more than their share of "beauty contests," they have turned in some dazzling performances. Since Jan. 14, Scott has sent out three young runners to leave the maiden ranks in eye-catching fashion, and all look like horses with a future.

On Jan. 14, Forever Wild led throughout a 1 1/16-mile race that was taken off the turf, pulling away under Derek Bell to win by 12 lengths despite racing greenly in the stretch. The next day, Scott won again, this time with an Alphabet Soup filly named Roll VTR who was ridden by Juan Umana. Last Thursday, the Scott stable cut loose another monster as Chatham Strait blew past the leaders leaving the far turn and went on to post an authoritative 4 1/2-length win on the turf, again with Bell aboard.

Scott worked for trainers in France and Ireland and then for the barns of Nick Zito and Carl Nafzger in this country before striking out on her own in the fall of 2002. She won with the first horse she saddled as a trainer and has already had a Breeders' Cup starter, Freefourinternet, who finished sixth in the 2003 Mile.

"I was very lucky to have the opportunity to travel to Europe and be able to work with some top trainers like Alex Head in France and John Oxx in Ireland, then come back here and work with folks like Nick [Zito]," Scott said. "Being around the training and racing of top horses gives you a foundation that is priceless when you strike out on your own."

After spending several winters in New Orleans at Fair Grounds, Scott decided to make a change.

"I'm very happy with the surface here at Tampa. It's a safe and forgiving racetrack," Scott said. "My horses seem to love it, and when horses like the track they usually show that in the afternoon.

"One of my principal owners, Bill Shively of Dixiana Stable, has a residence here, so he can get a chance to see some of his horses race," she said. "We've got a number of young horses, and young ones are a challenge, but they are also the ones with potential, and that's the exciting part of it."

Miranda on the mend

Charlie Miranda, longtime state steward here, is at home convalescing after abdominal surgery and is likely to be out three to four weeks. Miranda, who was an owner and trainer before moving to the stewards' stand, also served several terms on the Tampa City Council and ran unsuccessfully for mayor in the last campaign.