10/11/2006 11:00PM

Beautiful East poised to win first stakes


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trainer Kate Demasi took pride in Beautiful East's effort in the Eleven North Handicap at Monmouth Park.

At $100,000, the Eleven North on Sept. 16 was the richest race of the year for New Jersey-bred filly and mare sprinters and it produced a dramatic finish, with graded stakes winner Wild Gams prevailing by a neck over Pure Disco, who was only a head better than Beautiful East.

"She ran a very brave race," Demasi said. "I thought she was almost going to get there."

Beautiful East, Pure Disco, Summer Sting, and Catessa all return from the Eleven North for the $55,000 Queen Lib Handicap at six furlongs Saturday night at the Meadowlands Racetrack.

The statebred feature attracted a field of seven.

While Beautiful East has turned in some solid races going long, the 5-year-old is most competitive in sprints. She has hit the board in 9 of 17 starts at this distance.

"If all things go in our favor, maybe we can get the job done," Demasi said. "I'd love to see her get that first stakes win under her belt for down the line in the breeding shed. It would add to her potential there."

The speedy Pure Disco has already bagged a pair of stakes. The 3-year-old captured the New Jersey Futurity at the Big M last fall and beat older rivals in Monmouth's Goldfinch Handicap on July Fourth.

Summer Sting broke poorly in the Eleven North and settled for fifth.

"She reared at the start and we lost all chance right there," said owner Gerry Sleeter. "It was too late to get in gear. She looked like a good thing in there, but a freaky thing happened."

Heading into the Eleven North, Summer Sting had finished third in the Regret and second in the Blue Sparkler, both open stakes at Monmouth.

Completing the field are Cigno d'Oro, Passaic, and Magic Skier.

Santagata gets 1,000th local win

Nick Santagata reached a second major milestone Wednesday night when the Meadowlands' all-time leading rider got his 1,000th victory at the track.

Santagata reached the magic number aboard Mizzou Tiger in the fifth race.

"They come a lot faster when you're not counting," said Santagata. "I'm happy and relieved to get it done and over with. It meant a lot to me to do it in front of a lot of my friends and jockeys that I ride with. Now it's time for me to get on to the next thousand."

Santagata, a 49-year-old Brooklyn native, needed three wins coming into the meet.

On Sept. 26, Santagata hit another important number: his 4,000th career winner.

Santagata, the leading rider at the Big M in 1981, is the classic blue-collar journeyman. He never got to ride a lot of stakes horses but earned wins the hard way, on claimers and maidens.

Santagata rode his first winner at Keystone (now Philadelphia Park) in 1978 and currently ranges from Belmont to the Big M, Philadelphia Park, and Penn National in search of mounts.

"I've always been a believer in hard work," Santagata said. "There are not a lot of jockeys pushing 50 doing this. For now, I feel good and plan on continuing to ride."