06/23/2006 11:00PM

Villainage becomes one to fear


MIAMI - Villainage stamped himself as the leading candidate for the upcoming Florida Stallion Stakes series with his victory over a strong field of 2-year-olds in Friday's B L's Sweep Stakes at 5 1/2 furlongs.

Trained by Edward Plesa Jr. for the Centaur Farms, Villainage had to overcome trouble for the second time in two starts. In his debut June 10, Villainage broke several lengths behind the field before finishing full of run to win his maiden. Friday, Villainage raced within striking distance of the leaders during the early stages of the B L's Sweep but had to take up sharply under jockey Abel Castellano when he was blocked behind horses approaching the quarter pole. Fortunately, Castellano was able to swing out and find clearance in early stretch, and Villainage finished willingly from the middle of the track to run down El Bandido Rojo. Honored Image, the only two-time winner in the field, was third. He was well placed but lacked the response that carried him to an entry-level allowance win in his previous start.

The Florida Stallion Stakes kicks off Aug. 5 with the $100,000 Desert Vixen and Dr. Fager divisions at six furlongs.

Villainage is one of two juvenile offspring of the speedy stallion Trippi who have turned heads here during the early stages of the meet. The other, Green Vegas, posted a 91 Beyer Speed Figure when he won his maiden at first asking for owner-trainer Luis Olivares on June 13. Green Vegas, who is also eligible for the Stallion Stakes, worked a half-mile in an easy 48.76 seconds here Friday.

Uchita vs. four in feature

Monday's main event drew a field of only five fillies and mares to go 6 1/2 furlongs in a second-level allowance with an optional claiming price of $40,000.

Uchita, a lightly raced filly who has won four of her last eight starts, will likely be favored against a field that includes Fast Hand, Iztla, Suchatouch, and Alisa's Hope. Leading rider Manoel Cruz has the call.

A hat trick for Centeno

Jockey Daniel Centeno, riding here regularly for the first time this season, registered three victories Friday and narrowly missed a fourth when his mount, Sheza Snitch, was upset in the finale as the odds-on favorite. Two of Centeno's wins came for trainer Kathleen O'Connell.