12/11/2004 1:00AM

Tampa: 'Witness' wears down rival

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Ranging up along the outside in midstretch, Hostile Witness put away a stubborn Sounds Impossible to come away with a hard-earned 1 1/2-length victory in the $60,000 Inaugural Stakes as Tampa Bay Downs began its live 2004-05 racing season.

Under a hustling ride by Cecilio Penalba, Hostile Witness made up ground steadily after the opening quarter-mile, rallied four wide out of the turn to enter contention, then challenged for the lead along with Sounds Impossible and the betting favorite, Get Wild. Get Wild gave way in the final furlong, making it a two-horse race, but after battling to deep stretch, Hostile Witness began to edge clear.

Sounds Impossible was easily second, more than two lengths in front of Captain Lindsey. Get Wild finished fourth. Time for the six furlongs over a fast but dull racing strip was 1:12.23.

The win was the second from seven outings for Hostile Witness ($12.80), a son of Successful Appeal trained by Larry Bates.