02/02/2006 1:00AM

Two big last-out winners go in Manatee


OLDSMAR Fla. - Ebony Breeze, fresh off a track-record performance here at Tampa Bay Downs, and Malibu Mint top a strong field of 14 fillies and mares Saturday in the $60,000 Manatee Stakes at seven furlongs.

A 6-year-old, Ebony Breeze is coming off a six-length victory in the 6 1/2-furlong allowance prep for the Manatee here Jan. 21. Returning from a two-month break, Ebony Breeze overcame early traffic problems to loop rivals leaving the turn, then drew away smartly through the final furlong to cover the distance in a track record 1:16.41.

The win was the fourth from five career outings at Tampa for Ebony Breeze. Last season, she led into the final furlong of the Manatee before finishing second to Grab Bag. Later in the year, she won the My Juliet Stakes at Philadelphia. Ebony Breeze also finished second last year at Saratoga in the Grade 2 Honorable Miss and third at Delaware Park in the Grade 3 Endine Handicap.

A winner of $849,722 and 10 races from 31 starts, Ebony Breeze is trained by Kinsman Stable farm manager Edward Sexton. She will be ridden from post 12 Saturday by T.D. Houghton at 122 pounds.

Malibu Mint in her last start was dismissed at 12-1 in the $100,000 Chaposa Springs at seven furlongs at Calder on Dec. 31. She made that price look like a bargain, overcoming traffic problems to rally past the leaders for a three-length victory. The win was her third straight.

Kristi Chapman has a return mount aboard Malibu Mint, who will carry 122 pounds.

Also in the field Saturday is Platinum Perfect, who overcame the outside post in a field of 12 to take the Minaret Stakes here following a nine-week break. She has won 7 of 15 lifetime starts and looms the top speed horse of the field.

Beautiful Bets, who was gaining on Platinum Perfect last time out when beaten just a length, gets an additional furlong for her late run and deserves a long look.