05/05/2011 8:14AM

Tampa Bay: Ness and Bennett do battle in allowance


OLDSMAR, Fla. – In a race that could well have a bearing on the battle for leading trainer at this meeting, leader Jamie Ness and second-place Gerald Bennett both have horses entered Saturday in a one-mile allowance feature on the turf on a 12-race Kentucky Derby Day program at Tampa Bay Downs.

Bennett, who has 55 wins coming into Friday's Tampa program, has entered Gimmiearide, who came off a short layoff with two strong wins on the turf and is likely to be favored in the field of nine fillies and mares.

Gimmiearide was moved to the turf for the first time earlier this meeting and surprised many as she rallied at 29-1 to finish second, three-quarters of a length short of Box Office Queen. After coming back to be fourth, beaten less than two lengths in a similar allowance race, Gimmearide received a freshener. She was off 10 weeks, then came back against $32,000 claiming fillies and mares on the turf and responded with a 1 1/4-length win. Brought back for $25,000 in her next race, the Florida-bred Gimmearide showed some grit as she came back again after being headed in the drive to gain a hard-earned head tally.

Ness, who has 58 wins, will saddle Pink Belle Girl, a $5,000 claim last May for the powerful Midwest Thoroughbred stable. Pink Belle Girl has won three races under Ness’s care while moving up the ranks to race with starter allowance and high-priced claiming types. A winner at Saturday’s one-mile distance against $16,000 claimers earlier this meeting, Pink Belle Girl was also given some time off, taking a two-month break before coming back with allowance runners going a mile on the turf. She set a blistering pace that day, including six furlongs of 1:09.20, before weakening to be sixth.

Last time out, Pink Belle Girl came from off the pace to finish third in a five-furlong sprint that was taken off the turf and moved to the main track. She will have blinkers off for Saturday’s race.

Above the Stars makes her first start for trainer Curtis Garrison and her first start since November. While she will be starting on the turf for the first time, she won at first asking over the Polytrack at Woodbine last August and has been no worse than sixth in five outings in allowance company.

Garrison horses have been impressive in limited outings this season. He sent out Wyomia here to capture the Suncoast Stakes in her first start since racing in the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies Turf. Wyomia went on to finish second in the Grade 1 Ashland at Keeneland in her next outing. Garrison horses have finished off the board only three times from 11 starts this meet.

Jane Cibelli sends out Supah Jalene, an impressive maiden winner on the turf here in January in her first start for Cibelli. She was second in her only other grass outing, which came in February.