09/18/2002 12:00AM

America's most prolific owner

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ELMONT, N.Y. - When Boston Common, leading all the way under Jorge Chavez, galloped to a convincing five-length victory at Belmont Park last weekend in the $150,000 Jerome Mile for 3-year-olds, it was the first graded stakes victory in New York for the stable of Richard Englander, but probably not the last.

Englander, a 42-year-old stock trader from Westchester County, N.Y., made headlines last season when he topped all North American owners both in earnings ($9,783,472) and races won (405). It was the first time in 15 years that the same individual won both titles, and Englander was the only American among the five leading money-winning owners. He was followed by Prince Ahmed Salman of Saudi Arabia, Prince Khalid Abdullah of Saudi Arabia, Frank Stronach of Canada, and Sheikh Mohammed of Dubai.

Englander, with some 150 horses in training, distributed among some 20 trainers in all parts of the country, has a distinctive operation and an unusual approach to the sport he has loved since he was a teenager.

"Three men who are known as partners help me run the stable," Englander said the other day. "My friend Andy Rosenfeld, who has an extensive background in computers, developed a program for the business aspects of our operation and is in charge of monetary matters. Another friend, Scott Speight, helps me with the claiming of horses, which is such an important part of our stable. For example, we claimed Boston Common for $50,000 and he has earned over $330,000. Scott also prepares a calendar for our operations."

The third partner is Englander's father-in-law, Bob Griffith, who is the stable's stakes coordinator. A number of the horses are nominated to several stakes in the same time frame to give the trainers options, and Griffith selects the possibilities and keeps track of them. He also assists Englander with claims.

Englander launched his stable in the fall of 1998 but his interest in racing extends back a number of years.

"Chris Tonelli was my best friend," he recalled, "and Chris's father, Jim Tonelli, used to take us to the races on weekends. We'd go to Monmouth Park or Garden State or Delaware Park and I really got to like it. Three years ago I decided to buy a horse. I thought if we could win 20 percent of our starts and finish in the money 50 percent of the time we could be in the black."

The first horse, Virginia Punch, was punchless, but others that followed were better. For the first six months Englander's trainers selected the horses to be claimed, but then he began to make the choices himself, or in consultation with his partners and their computers. For the first two years the stable lost money. Last year's profits were in seven figures.

"Our expenses are high," Englander said. "For 150 horses at an average of $70 a day per horse that comes to $10,500 a day. We probably have too many horses but I love to claim them. I'd love to claim a horse some day and run him in the Kentucky Derby."

Englander spends a hour and a half each morning with Daily Racing Form and another seven or eight hours with his partners discussing stable activity. He trades in the stock market for two hours and then hurries home to his wife, Jean, and sons Ben and Shane, both racing fans.