02/25/2006 1:00AM

Track records dropping fast


OLDSMAR, Fla. - Just how much has the quality of racing improved at Tampa Bay Downs?

Consider this: When Atticus Kristy ran down Western Kind in a five-furlong optional claiming sprint on the turf in Tuesday's nightcap in a blistering 55.02 seconds, it marked the sixth time at this meeting a track record had been set.

Atticus Kristy, a stakes-caliber turf sprinter from the Merrill Scherer barn, just got up in the final stride to win by a nose and prevent Western Kind from setting a track record for the second time at the meeting. Western Kind broke the five-furlong mark earlier in the meeting when he sped through a turf sprint in 55.74, but held the record for just 24 hours before Chaotic Achiever lowered it to 55.73 the next day.

Others to set track records at this meeting include Ebony Breeze (6 1/2 furlongs), Sir Shackleton (seven furlongs), and Pie's Prospect (1 1/16 miles).

These new marks are not the result of souped-up racing surfaces. The track maintenance team doesn't make any radical changes to the local racing surfaces on days when big races are conducted, and the turf course is known as fair and safe.

Sir Shackleton and Pie's Prospect are from the Nick Zito stable. Zito has been vocal in his praise of the main track as a safe surface that helps build stamina in runners and has backed up those comments by entering locally, winning 3 of 10 starts this meeting while finishing second twice.

Friday double for Shaw stable

While not every stable has the numbers or the depth to challenge for the lead in the trainer standings, a number of outfits are getting the most out of their runners at this meeting.

John Shaw posted a training double Friday. He sent out Cobra Reef to take the first in a shocker after the colt had been beaten a combined 68 lengths at Calder in his first two starts. Shaw came back in the sixth with Welfare Cadillac, who won on the main track after being disqualified from a win on the turf in his previous race. Those two victories gave the stable six wins from 12 starters.

Other stables enjoying good success this meeting include David Burns (5 for 14), James Hartley (8 for 29), Duane Knipe (9 for 49), Jamie Ness (6 for 38), Mike Zwiesler (9 for 31), Charles Fontana (8 for 57), Jane Cibelli (8 for 26), Sam Cronk (7 for 54), and Sandy Cataldi (4 for 17).

Cibelli might have a good one on her hands in Solar Surprise, a 4-year-old Old Trieste gelding who left the winless ranks in eye-catching fashion on Tuesday.

On the rider side, Alfredo Clemente, who posted a riding triple on Tuesday, now has 16 wins on the meeting, while Carlos Montalva, riding here for the first time, has had a good deal of support from the Chicago-based stables and has 17 wins. Others quietly having good meetings include Tammy Piermarini, who rides for a number of the stables that race at Suffolk Downs during the summer, with 17 wins, and Ricardo Valdes, who has 12 tallies from 83 mounts.