01/10/2004 1:00AM

Tampa Bay: Wild Speed, indeed

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OLDSMAR, Fla. - Wild Speed, under Derek Bell, stalked pacesetter Crafty Tears for more than a half-mile, passed her leaving the furlong marker, and won the $60,000 Sandpiper Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs by 2 1/4 lengths.

Owned by Victoria Farms Inc. and trained by Javier Contreras, Wild Speed won her third race from four career starts. She returned $14 and covered the six furlongs over a "good" strip in 1:11.93.

Crafty Tears held on well for second after setting early fractions of 22.33 seconds for the quarter and 45.97 for the half. She finished 3 1/2 lengths ahead of Atti Girl Fergie, the favorite, who was up by a neck for the show.

Wild Speed, a Kentucky-bred daughter of Forest Wildcat from the Forty Niner mare Miss Speed, earned $27,000, running her career earnings to $33,800.

With a number of tracks on the East Coast canceling their racing programs due to frigid weather, simulcast outlets turned to Tampa, boosting the all-sources handle for the 11-race program to a record $4,722,986.