10/04/2003 12:00AM

Cup to Bowman's Band

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Owner Martin Schwartz changed trainers but retained his favorite jockey. All the maneuvering paid off Friday night as Bowman's Band won the Grade 2, $400,000 .

Schwartz took the horse from Michael Matz and gave it to Allen Jerkens, the "Giant Killer," who pulled off yet another upset. This time the victim was Volponi, the Breeders' Cup Classic winner.

Schwartz also convinced Ramon Dominguez to spend what turned into a very profitable evening at The Meadowlands.

"I had been working on Ramon's agent for two weeks to line him up," said Schwartz. "Ramon is the next superstar in this business."

Dominguez put on a stellar performance on Cup night as he won six races overall to tie the track record set by Julie Krone in 1989.

As a sign of his growing stature, Dominguez received little prerace instruction from Jerkens.

"Mr. Jerkens was very flexible," Dominguez said. "He knew that I had ridden the horse before."

Bowman's Band enjoyed a perfect stalking trip and wound up a 1 3/4-length winner over Dynever. The pacesetting Unforgettable Max finished third but was placed fourth for interference against Volponi shortly after the start.

The Meadowlands Cup has been a significant springboard to the Breeders' Cup. Volponi parlayed his second-place finish in last year's Cup into victory in the Classic.

Bowman's Band probably won't be making the trip to Santa Anita.

"I don't think he'll make the Breeders' Cup this year," Schwartz said. "I think that he races best off five to six weeks rest."

Schwartz said Bowman's Band "didn't run to form" in the Salvator Mile at Monmouth "because I ran him back in two weeks. It was owner stupidity."

There was nothing dumb about the training decision.

"He just came last week," Jerkens said. "He obviously was in good shape. It's bad luck for the other guy but it's good luck for me."

Volponi was the biggest disappointment in the race. A hard-charging second in last year's Meadowlands Cup, Volponi didn't have the same response this time. He got pinched at the break and never got into the hunt.

"He just wasn't there for me," said jockey John Velazquez. "They got the jump on me and he had too much ground to make up."