11/03/2005 12:00AM

Boston natives come home for Peabody


Ever since Suffolk Downs closed for two years in 1989, New England racing has steadily seen some of its most successful trainers head elsewhere for more money. It's refreshing when the prodigal sons and daughters return home with stakes horses, as Mike Gorham and Lori Lockhart will do in Saturday's $40,000 Amelia Peabody Stakes.

The Peabody is a race for Massachusetts-bred 2-year-old fillies at six furlongs. It was one of four races added to the stakes calendar here at the end of the season. In recent years it has attracted some of the best statebred runners.

Gorham grew up in the Boston area and trained at Suffolk, but lucrative purses at Delaware saw him ship south in the mid-90's. One of his 2-year-old fillies this year, Flirt for Fame, had been training at his base at Delaware Park, but Gorham brought her to Suffolk for her debut Oct. 18 because of the lucrative statebred program.

"She was training really well and doing everything right," said Gorham. "We decided to ship her up there and get her a race over the track. There's also bonus money for winning in open company, so a maiden win there would be a good spot, too."

Flirt for Fame overpowered her maiden rivals by 2 3/4 lengths in that race, including runner-up Auntie Millie, who returns for a rematch Saturday. Tammi Piermarini will be aboard, and Flirt for Fame will get a first dose of Lasix.

While Gorham has held his own at Delaware and Gulfstream, Lori Lockhart, also a native of Boston, has been shipping her best horses to her father Lloyd's barn in New Jersey. Saturday, she brings two of those fillies to Suffolk, hoping to give the family a future star to follow in the footsteps of their current star, Ask Queenie.

Southoftheborder, a half-sister to two-time statebred stakes winner Expensive Verdict, was impressive closing ground in her debut at Monmouth, finishing fourth by 3 1/2 lengths. She rallied again in stronger company at The Meadowlands in her last start Oct. 7, finishing fourth again.

New Jersey-based jockey Felix Ortiz rides Southoftheborder from the rail.

Lockhart will also saddle Sassy Splash with leading jockey Winston Thompson. Sassy Splash dropped in class to get a confidence-building win under her belt Aug. 31, when she won a $25,000 claimer in the mud at Monmouth.

The Lockhart horses will race uncoupled.

Auntie Millie has the most experience in the field, with seven starts, but has yet to win. Her second-place finish in her last start was a sign she is figuring things out. She started out her career on the turf at Colonial Downs, and has steadily improved in four starts at Suffolk for trainer Tom McCooey.

Trainer Ed Stone sends the entry of Caller Sara Kate and Merrimack Diane. In 2002, Stone won this race with Jill's Layup, who scored as such an overwhelming favorite and with so much in show bets on her that Suffolk petitioned the state racing commission to eliminate place and show wagering on all Massachusetts-bred stakes races. Those restrictions have since been lifted.

Funeral held for Lapensee

New England horsemen paused to remember Michel Lapensee on Thursday at his funeral and burial in Rhode Island. Lapensee, a Montreal native, died last Friday of injuries suffered after he fell from his mount Oct. 24. He was 58.