12/23/2005 1:00AM

Two Bennetts to worry about now

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OLDSMAR Fla. - Bennett is a familiar name around Tampa Bay Downs, as veteran horseman Gerald Bennett has been a fixture here for many years. This season his son Dale is here with a string of 22 horses, and the early returns suggest he is poised for a good meet.

Bennett, who has sent out two winners from his first nine starters, has had seven runners hit the board. He has been training on his own for six years and has used Chicago as his base in recent seasons. The opportunity to develop his young horses this winter and the fact he was allotted stalls at Tampa prompted him to move south.

"My main stable is Savoy Stable, and they have residences in Florida and like to see their horses run live," Bennett said. "And we've got a number of young horses that I've been working with all summer, and I just wanted to continue to be close to them as they continue to progress."

One of Bennett's promising youngsters is Prosico, a Siphon colt purchased for $40,000 as a yearling at Keeneland September in 2004. Prosico lost a photo to another promising colt, Sweet Grass Creek, going 1 1/16 miles Tuesday.

"We really wanted to run him seven furlongs, but he didn't get in the race on opening day, so I was pleased with his race Tuesday," Bennett said. "He's a colt with a lot of ability.

"We've also got some Florida-breds who can take advantage of the Florida breeding bonus. Hopefully it'll be a good winter."

Houghton breaks out of slump

Most folks figured T.D. Houghton would be the rider to beat in the jockeys' race when word came that last year's leading rider, Jesus Castanon, would be arriving late and leaving early this season. Surprisingly, Houghton was shut out during the first five racing programs of the meet.

He came to life Tuesday, knocking out a riding double and looking like the Houghton of old.

With a lot of new stables on the backstretch and fewer horses from the Michigan circuit, where Houghton has dominated for years, it's a period of adjustment for him, but most expect he will be among the leaders when all is said and done.