11/29/2001 1:00AM

Country Be Gold part of a long story


JAMAICA, N.Y. - This is one of those goes-around, comes-around stories. Almost 50 years ago, a young horseman named Allen Jerkens claimed Admiral Vee for $7,500 on behalf of Ed Seinfeld. Eventually, Jerkens saddled that son of War Admiral, known more for his speed than his stamina, to win the Gallant Fox Handicap at Jamaica over a mile and five furlongs. The Jerkens legend was under way.

Fast-forward to the year 2000. A horseman named Steve Kappes, who worked several years for Jerkens before leaving to set up his own public stable, is in Miami to speak with a prospective client. It didn't materialize, but a friend suggested he speak with another owner, a specialist in internal medicine named Barry Seinfeld.

Dr. Seinfeld, son of Ed Seinfeld and a keen racing enthusiast, owns a small training center near Gulfstream Park. He met there with Kappes, told the trainer he came recommended by Jerkens, and indicated Kappes might hear from him.

Last fall, Robert Roberts dispersed his sizeable stable at Keeneland, and Dr. Seinfeld told Kappes he was interested in several of the horses.

One of them was a 3-year-old colt by Summer Squall, Country Be Gold. Kappes was able to land him for $150,000, brought him to New York, got to know him, and liked what he saw. In the six or seven weeks between the sale and the end of the year, Kappes ran Country Be Gold twice and he won both times.

Country Be Gold developed nicely this season and appears to have come into his own this fall. He finished fourth in the Grade 1 Woodward behind Lido Palace, Albert the Great, and Tiznow; finished third in the Grade 1 Jockey Club Gold Cup to Aptitude and Generous Rosi; and finished second in the Stuyvesant Handicap to Graeme Hall, who was a big second last weekend to Left Bank in the Cigar Mile.

Country Be Gold has been racing against the best and making money. On Saturday he goes for the first stakes victory of his career in the $100,000 Queens County Handicap at 1 3/16 miles, and he appears to have a good chance, if there is a genuine pace up front. He is a stretch-runner, a come-on horse.

If it happens that way, the first to offer congratulations to the winning owner and trainer will be Allen Jerkens, with a few memories of his own.

New York on the rise

Through a happy combination of circumstances, the New York Racing Association is one of a few businesses in the Northeast to show figures on the upswing in the wake of the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11.

Despite the loss of five days of racing, average daily attendance at Belmont was up by more than 16 percent, while average handle was up by more than 24 percent. The trend continued during the first four weeks at Aqueduct, though not quite as strong.

"The outstanding weather has been a major factor," Terry Meyocks, president of NYRA, noted. "The Breeders' Cup, a great day of racing, was another factor. The lower tax takeout on wagering and the improved quality of racing were other considerations, and there has also been reduced competition from The Meadowlands."

NYRA officials will be going to Albany soon to discuss plans for the advent of VLT's at Aqueduct.

"We had a group at Woodbine in Toronto recently to see it in operation and we were impressed," Meyocks said.

"We want to do it right and that will take time."