11/26/2002 12:00AM

Velasquez's slump ends with six-win bang


MIAMI - Cornelio Velasquez had gone three straight days without winning a race heading into Sunday's program - a colossal slump for a rider who has won the last three jockey titles at Calder.

Velasquez then went out and ended the drought in high style, winning six races on Sunday's program. Five of the victories came in succession and they included Maliziosa's win in the Opera Diva Stakes for trainer Bill Mott.

"It's a funny game," said Velasquez, who came back to win two races on Monday. "I go three days without winning anything and then I win six in one day."

Although Velasquez's six victories equaled a Calder record held by several other riders, it was not the biggest day of his career. Before coming to the United States in 1993, Velasquez, now 34, won seven races on a single program in his native Panama.

Velasquez's six-win day couldn't have come at a better time for him. Both M.R. Cruz and Eibar Coa took advantage of Velasquez's three-day shutout to climb back into the race for the Tropical riding title. The defending champ, Velasquez's six wins gave him some breathing room. Coa, a seven-time Calder and Tropical at Calder jockey champion, won three races Monday to move past M.R. Cruz and into second place in the standings. Cruz is serving out a seven-day riding suspension.

Velasquez will stay in south Florida again this winter to ride at Gulfstream Park, but is considering moving his tack to Kentucky next spring.

Rene Douglas returns

The local jockey colony got even stronger this week with the return of Rene Douglas, who is back in south Florida after winning his second straight riding title at Arlington Park.

"I'm going to take it slow at first and just kind of see how my business goes," said Douglas. "I'll stick to the same schedule again next season, riding out the winter at Gulfstream before returning to Chicago for the start of the Arlington meet. But I'm really happy to be back here again to see my people. I can't forget Calder. That's where I came from."

Douglas, the 1993 Calder riding champion, is the sixth-winningest rider in Tropical history. He is also the only jockey to win six races on a single program twice at this track, on Dec. 8, 1993, and on July 15, 1995.

Super Fuse goes next on Jan. 3

Trainer Richard Ciardullo says he plans to back off a bit on his multiple stakes-winning 2-year-old Super Fuse before gearing him up for a 3-year-old campaign that will begin with the Grade 3 Spectacular Bid Stakes on Jan. 3, opening day of the 2003 Gulfstream Park meet.

Super Fuse scored the most important victory of his career in his 2002 finale, a 3 1/4-length victory over 4-5 favorite American Mon in Aqueduct's Huntington Stakes on Nov. 17. A son of Lite the Fuse, Super Fuse earned a career best 101 Beyer Speed Figure for the race, which came five weeks after a win here in the Birdonthewire Stakes.

"His race in New York was just so powerful," said Ciardullo. "He just exploded away from the field and opened up about six lengths once straightening away into the stretch.

"I'll put him on the same schedule he's been on in the past, when he goes five or six weeks between races. I'll go easy on him for a bit then start him back galloping on a regular basis. He's the type of horse who pretty much gets himself ready."

* Apprentice Leroy Nelson rode the first winner of his career in Monday's finale aboard Our Lucky Bubble for trainer Manny Azpurua. Nelson, 22, is from Kingston, Jamaica.