01/04/2002 12:00AM

Dutrow - that's Tony - hits town for Ruthless


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Richard Dutrow Jr. made headlines in New York in 2001 by winning the year-end training title, but he wasn't the only Dutrow making noise last season.

The Maryland-based Tony Dutrow, Richard's older brother by one year, won with a healthy 32 percent of his starters in 2001. Dutrow, 43, enjoyed a career-best year by saddling 76 winners from 236 starters and winning $2,780,900 in purses nationally, according to Daily Racing Form statistics. He finished the season as Maryland's fourth-leading trainer with 52 winners and saddled more stakes winners (10) than anyone else on the Maryland circuit.

The Dutrow brothers were bred to crank out winners. Their father, the late Dick Dutrow, was a leading trainer in Maryland and New York and managed the campaigns of numerous stakes winners, including King's Swan and Lite the Fuse.

Tony Dutrow's periodic ventures to New York over the years have yielded positive results. Last year, Dutrow produced a record of 8-7-6 from 32 starters and won two stakes, the Astoria and Schuylerville, with Touch Love.

On Sunday at Aqueduct, Dutrow saddles the likely favorite in the $75,000-added Ruthless, Nice Boots Baby, a horse he owns.

Dutrow, 43, said a few years ago he found himself in a position to purchase some horses and now has ownership interest in two-thirds of his 30-horse stable at Laurel Park. Some horses Dutrow owns wholly, others in partnership.

Dutrow said it's a system that has worked out well and has been both financially and personally rewarding.

"If I had the support [of more owners], it might be different," Dutrow said. "But I've used my own money and it's been successful. Last year, I had a handful of really good earners, like Saratoga Games and Native Heir, who stepped up and were big contributors."

Dutrow's biggest earner in 2001 was a 3-year-old he trained for Harold Rose, Burning Roma. Burning Roma, who is currently with trainer Bill Mott in Florida, earned $614,000 and was third behind Point Given in the $1.5 million Haskell. Last winter, Burning Roma left Dutrow's barn for a brief stint at Tampa Bay Downs, where he won the Tampa Bay Derby for trainer Heather Giglio, but was returned to Dutrow in the spring. Dutrow said he was unsure what would take place this year, but is hopeful Burning Roma would rejoin his stable again.

Dutrow said his objectives for 2002 are simple: He wants to learn more about his horses.

"Honestly, my goal is just to have these horses teach me more about themselves," he said. "It's not how many races or stakes I win. I'm hopeful of all those things, but those are not goals."

Sopranos and racing: Two great tastes . . .

Aqueduct will be bustling on Monday, a dark day, when a scene from the hit HBO show, "The Sopranos," will be filmed in the Equestris dining room.

"The Sopranos," which chronicles the life of Mafia boss, Tony Soprano, is scheduled to begin its fourth season in September. No air date has been set for the Aqueduct episode, which features a subplot on Thoroughbred racing.

No racing scenes will be staged during the filming, but horses with riders in racing silks will create a simulated post parade while the cast watches from the dining room.

James Gandolfini, who plays Tony Soprano, and Steve Van Zandt, who plays Silvio, one of Tony's trusted henchman, are scheduled to take part in the shoot, which is expected to feature 75 to 90 extras.

Actor Michael Imperioli, who plays Tony Soprano's nephew, Christopher, is an avid racing fan and attended the Belmont Stakes and Breeders' Cup last year. Imperioli was not among the names on the cast list for Monday's scene.