03/10/2005 12:00AM

Speedy Above the Wind or closer Super Frolic?


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Bettors will be faced with the classic choice between a live speedball and a tough late closer when the front-running Above the Wind faces late-running Super Frolic in the $65,000 Budweiser Challenge Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs on Saturday.

has won 2 of his last 3 starts and led until the final furlong in the 1 1/16-mile Tampa Bay Breeders' Cup Stakes last time out.

Super Frolic won of 4 of 12 starts last season, including three stakes, all at Calder, and will be making his 2005 debut. Super Frolic and Above the Wind top a field of 10 older horses in the Challenger Stakes.

Jockey Frederico Mata will again ride Above the Wind, 8, who will be making his fourth start here this winter. He set a torrid pace to near midstretch in the Tampa Bay BC, including a half-mile clocking of 46.37 seconds and and six-furlong time of 1:10.21, before weakening late and finishing third behind War Bound and Remind.

Above the Wind, trained by Ron Allen Sr., ran his competition into the ground in both the six-furlong Pelican and seven-furlong Super stakes earlier this meet, leading from start to finish in impressive efforts. While his best races have come at sprint distances, Above the Wind has won three times at a middle distance and is clearly the horse to catch Saturday.

racked up earnings of $140,450 last year, his best season to date, winning the Best of the Rest and Mel's Hope stakes at Calder and finishing only a head behind Built Up for the victory in the $100,000 Spend a Buck Stakes, also at Calder. Super Frolic has not raced since mid-December but has been training sharply for his return.

Jose Ferrer will ride Super Frolic, who, like Above the Wind, will carry 116 pounds.

With the likelihood that former stakes winner Wake at Noon will press Above the Wind for the lead, stalkers and closers such as Attack the Books and Tap Day also deserve long looks.

Attack the Books rallied from last to win the 2004 Challenger and was a fast-closing third in the Super Stakes. Tap Day, winner of the Princeton at The Meadowlands with a late rally last fall - and a winner of 7 races in 15 lifetime starts - cannot be dismissed.

Pedro Rodriguez will ride Attack the Books. Jose Velez Jr. will be on Tap Day.

Wake at Noon ran second, beaten only a neck by Sir Oscar, in a seven-furlong prep for this race.