06/06/2001 11:00PM

Anthony Black enjoying his late-career roll


Jockey Anthony Black may be middle-aged, but he can't help feeling like a kid again.

After more than two decades at Philadelphia Park, where he earned five riding titles and won more races than any other jockey, Black has made Delaware Park his home track. At an age when most of his contemporaries are either retired or cutting back on their mounts, Black is still at the top of his game.

Through Tuesday's races, Black has ridden a meet-leading 41 winners at Delaware, five more than five-time track champion Mike McCarthy.

Not bad for a 49-year-old who won his first race 31 years ago at a converted harness track, the long-demolished Liberty Bell Park.

Black, who has ridden 4,304 winners in his career, said he feels revitalized.

"I think it is really great to be in a competitive situation and to be leading rider. I hope it brings out the best in me," said Black, who had been a Philly Park fixture since the track opened in 1974. "It raises your level of intensity."

Black began accepting more than just the occasional stakes mount at Delaware last summer for trainers Bob Camac and Allen Borosh and decided to ride at the track full-time this spring. Testing new waters at this stage of his career, he didn't really expect to make this big of a splash.

"Your chances of being leading rider are slim because of the established riders that have been here year after year. I was very fortunate to get into a cycle of getting on the right horses and winning," Black said. "It's just snowballing because winners build upon winners. That is what is going on right now. But I am not taking it for granted. When you are in one of those upbeat cycles, you better enjoy it and I am. I savor every moment."

Estio targets Baltimore Ravens

After chasing some of the better handicap horses in California and Louisiana last winter, Chilean-bred Estio has been thriving since coming to Delaware.

Trainer Steve Jordan is so confident, in fact, that he plans to take the 5-year-old Estio to Pimlico for the $200,000 Baltimore Ravens Breeders' Cup Handicap, a 1 1/8-mile race on June 16. Jordan then plans to bring Estio back to Delaware for the $100,000 R.R.M. Carpenter on July 21.

In his first start since coming to Jordan's barn on May 20, Estio won an allowance/optional claiming race at Delaware by 3 3/4 lengths. It was his first victory since last September and only his second in eight North American starts.

Jordan said Estio fits better with this horse population than he did in Southern California, where he twice faced graded stakes horses, and Fair Grounds, where he was fourth behind Include, recent winner of the Massachusetts Handicap and Pimlico Special.

"He was running against those horses in California, and at that time of his career and on that racetrack, he just had a hard time keeping up," Jordan said. "He ran some big races out there, but he is just thriving here. He just loves Delaware Park."

* Under the Rug, who scratched out of Monday's Rosenna Stakes on the turf, will make her next start at this track in the $100,000 Obeah Stakes at 1 1/8 miles on dirt June 24. If she runs well, Under the Rug will then point for the Delaware Handicap on July 22.

* Bonus money totaling $50,000 will be divided among the top five trainers whose horses accumulate the most points in a five-race starter handicap series. The first leg in the series, restricted to horses who started for $12,500 or less in 2000-2001, is a $20,000 race at 1 1/16 miles on June 17. The distance of each succeeding race will increase, culminating with the 1 1/2-mile finale on Oct. 20.