11/07/2002 12:00AM

Farmer Inthe Dell a nice tale thus far

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East Boston, Mass. - The pipeline producing strong stakes runners for owner Manfred Roos and trainer John Rigattieri is still flowing as Farmer Inthe Dell seeks his second stakes win of his young career in the $30,000 Tony DeSpirito Stakes for 2-year-olds Saturday.

Roos and Rigattieri have campaigned top-notch regional stars for many years, but the past three seasons they have been particularly strong with homebreds Stylish Sultan and Sunlit Ridge. Farmer Inthe Dell appears poised to continue the streak in the final open stakes race of Suffolk's autumn meet.

"He looks good coming into the race, and after his first race he seems to be showing the kind of aggressiveness we wanted to see from him," Roos said.

In Farmer Inthe Dell's debut, in August at Rockingham, he overcame trouble and rallied to finish second. He followed up with a win in the Floyd Duncan Memorial at Rockingham Sept. 14 and an allowance victory at Suffolk on Oct. 28.

"He's showing some good ability and we'll just have to see if he ends up with the same class as my homebreds," Roos said.

Farmer Inthe Dell is the only two-time winner in the six-furlong race. He's already beaten three of his rivals and will likely have to prove himself against the newcomers.

Among them is Wellfleet, who is trained by George Saccardo. A son of Formal Dinner, Wellfleet exits a half-length debut victory in a $75,000 maiden claimer at Belmont. Despite 20 years of training quality horses in New England, Saccardo won the first stakes of his career last month in the Columbus Day Stakes with Crescent City.

"We opted for this race because it's going to give the owners a chance to see their horse at their local track and over a surface we know where he's really trained well," Saccardo said. "I don't want to jinx myself. Would I love to get another stakes win? Sure, but really, my one wish would be to have a chance to campaign this horse at least through his 3-year-old year because I think a lot of good things are ahead of him."

Quiet Tipper returns from a layoff in the DeSpirito. He hasn't raced since winning at Calder in July.

Gib Merlin was supplemented to the race by trainer Lori Lockhart. Gib Merlin won his maiden on Sept. 25 at The Meadowlands and then finished third in a first-level allowance there Oct. 12. Lockhart will also send out Mr. Meso. Nicely Toasted, Comp, and A Gentle Man complete the field.

Handicapping contest No. 2

The second of two Suffolk Downs qualifying contests for the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas will be held Saturday.

This week's event carries a $25 entry fee as opposed to the $2 fee for last week's contest. In addition to the Las Vegas berths, cash prizes go to the top five finishers and DRF merchandise will be awarded to the top 10 finishers.

Players must make five win bets on Suffolk races and five bets on selected simulcast races.

Last week, Gerald Bourne, Thomas Galla, and Joe Sirianni finished in a tie for first, and on Saturday they will have to make selections in all nine Suffolk races to determine which two will advance to Las Vegas.