01/01/2008 12:00AM

Contessa breaks New York win mark

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Trainer Gary Contessa set a record for wins in one year on the New York Racing Association circuit Saturday when Silver Prospector won the first race at Aqueduct. The win was the 157th of 2007 at a NYRA track for Contessa, breaking the mark of 156 set by Frank Martin in 1974.

Contessa, who won his 158th race when Whistlin won the seventh, worked for Martin for five years before venturing out on his own in 1985.

“I’m very honored to have broken this record and I’m very honored to have broken one of Frank Martin’s records, and I would have been equally honored if I was just tied with him,” Contessa said from his upstate New York home, where he watched the record-setting victory with his wife and five children.

In 2007, Contessa won 151 races from 885 starters. Through Saturday, Contessa had started 1,128 horses in New York this year.

“This is something that will stand for a long time,” Contessa said. “There’ll be people who don’t even remember me who’ll know about the record.”

Contessa tied the record on Wednesday, but went winless with 18 starters before Silver Prospector won. Silver Prospector is owned by Steve Sigler’s Winning Move Stable, which won its 108th race of 2007.

“I couldn’t have done this without Winning Move,” Contessa said. “They took me to this plateau.”