01/27/2005 1:00AM

Tampa Bay Downs: Super Fuse returns


The $50,000 Super Stakes could turn out to be aptly named, as Super Fuse makes his seasonal debut in the seven-furlong headliner for older sprinters.

Super Fuse, 5, was the first stakes performer for Alpha One Stable, which was managed by the late Chris Thomas. Now trained by Kathleen O'Connell, Super Fuse was purchased by Thomas, a popular local radio and television personality, and won his first stakes here when he captured the Pasco as a 3-year-old.

Last season, Super Fuse finished a fast-closing second in the Arlington Park Sprint Breeder's Cup, was fourth in the Distorted Humor Handicap at Churchill, and finished a rallying fourth to Champali in the Phoenix at Keeneland. Super Fuse has captured 6 of 29 lifetime races for earnings of more than $349,000, and has been training well for his first race since late November.

Jesus Castanon will handle Super Fuse at 116 pounds under the allowance conditions of the sprint.

While Super Fuse will get his share of support in the 14-horse field, the Super Stakes is a wide-open betting affair. Above the Wind, an amazing 8-year-old gelding, will be going for his 19th career win and seventh over the Tampa strip. He recently buried a good field at 7-1 when he led wire to wire to capture the Pelican Stakes here for the second straight year. Above the Wind is just one of several in this field with early speed, but he has never looked in better form.

Avid Skier, who finished fifth in his first try with older horses in the Pelican, will get an additional furlong for his late-running style and has come back since the Pelican to train forwardly for Gerald Bennett.

Coach Jimi Lee, second by a neck in the Distorted Humor, comes off a short break. A 10-time winner, Coach Jimi Lee finished first or second in 7 of his 12 starts last season, mostly against allowance and stakes company.

Strength and Honor, the winner of the Distorted Humor, is another speedster who figures to guarantee a blistering pace. He was a pace factor to midstretch in the Grade 3 Mr. Prospector at Gulfstream Park.

Sing Me Back Home, from the Allen Iwinski barn, was third in the Pelican.