02/10/2005 1:00AM

Tampa: Ebony Breeze - 4 for 4?


Ebony Breeze, who has won all three times she's started at Tampa Bay Downs, comes up from Miami as a solid choice in the $60,000 Manatee Stakes. The seven-furlong stakes drew a field of 14 fillies and mares.

Hall of Fame trainer Bill Mott has named Heberto Castillo Jr. to ride Ebony Breeze at 116 pounds.

Ebony Breeze has won seven races, three of them at Tampa Bay Downs, including the 2003 Gasparilla Stakes as a 3-year-old.

Ebony Breeze won 2 of 9 starts last year, while facing some of the tougher filly and mare sprinters on the East Coast. She rallied from well off the pace to win the Grade 3 Endine Stakes at Delaware Park, covering the six furlongs in 1:09.73. Earlier, she overcame a slow start to win the My Juliet Stakes at Philadelphia Park.

In her final start of 2004, Ebony Breeze broke slowly and never got in the hunt on a sloppy track in the Chaposa Springs at Calder. She also broke slowly when third behind Savorthetime in the Grade 3 First Lady at Gulfstream Park on Jan. 22.

While Ebony Breeze will likely be the favorite, others in the big field are worth considering, including Grab Bag, a 6-year-old who is 5 for 12 lifetime. Trained by Tom Skiffington, Grab Bag has not run since May, when she was third to Secret Request in the Cut the Charm Stakes at Calder.

Diablosangeleyes, a sharp winner in a prep for the Manatee last time out and second in the Minaret at 99-1, looks like the most solid of the locally based horses.

Tom Turner will ride Grab Bag, while Jorge Bracho returns on Diablosangeleyes.