04/19/2006 11:00PM

Tampa: Military Major back in form


After being beaten a combined 39 3/4 lengths in his three previous starts, Military Major got back on track by finishing a close second in his most recent start, an optional $32,000 claimer at Tampa Bay Downs on March 25. He will try to build on that run Saturday, when he takes on Forever Wild and seven others in an optional claimer at 1 1/16 miles on Saturday's 11-race program.

A Rahy gelding, Military Major had a successful season in 2005, winning 2 of 11 starts and earning $150,400. He turned in a strong effort in the Grade 2, $750,000 Super Derby in October, racing close to the lead to midstretch before weakening slightly to be fourth, beaten 2 1/2 lengths by The Daddy.

Military Major used the Super Derby as a springboard to success three weeks later in the $150,000 Oklahoma Derby, in which he rallied from well of the pace to post a three-quarter-length victory in that nine-furlong race.

Following a two-month break, Military Major returned to finish eighth in the Grade 3 Fred Hooper and 12th in the Pete Axthelm at Calder. Off for another six weeks, Military Major couldn't get untracked in a seven-furlong optional claimer here Feb. 14 and wound up sixth as the favorite. Most recently, while making his first start for trainer Greg Griffith, he stalked the leaders, then rallied four wide in the stretch to finish second by three-quarter lengths to Firebrook.

T.D. Houghton, who has been riding at Gulfstream and preparing for the opening of the Great Lakes Downs meeting on May 6, will be back in town Saturday to ride Military Major.

Forever Wild, trained by Joan Scott, was one of the top 3-year-olds on the grounds last year, winning two races and finishing second behind Sun King in the Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby. In his most recent effort, a 1 1/16-mile optional claimer here Feb. 25, he made a good move to challenge after five furlongs but weakened in the drive to be third by 4 1/2 lengths.

Of the others, Trooping the Color looks capable of an upset in his first start since last June. Owned and bred by Will Farish, Trooping the Color won both of his races here last season in eye-catching fashion.

* In the 10th race, the speedy Chaotic Achiever goes after his third win in a row. The top challenger is Lookinforthesecret, who lost by just a head in a rapidly run five-furlong sprint at Gulfstream last time out.