07/05/2001 12:00AM

High-percentage Adamo on the rise

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FORT ERIE, Ontario - After 10 years of training, Tony Adamo had his greatest day in racing Sunday, saddling two winners for Peter Siegel of Huntington, N.Y., including Tsakpina in the Center Stage Anne Stakes.

"I had won two races in one day before," said Adamo, a 30-year-old native of Kenmore, N.Y., "but Tsakpina was my first stakes winner. Everyone I knew was there - my mom and dad, my friends from Buffalo, and my owner [Peter Siegel] had flown in. He lives 20 minutes from Belmont Park and has horses there."

Adamo claimed Tsakpina on April 30, for $25,000, with Sunday's $50,000 Center Stage Anne in mind.

He qualified her for the stakes in her second 2001 start at Fort Erie on June 2, in an optional claimer. She finished fifth in that race but lost by only 3 1/4 lengths despite checking at the start and racing wide throughout.

Adamo figured the best Tsakpina could do in the Center Stage Anne, against favorite Everything, who went off at 3-5, was finish second or third.

"We needed some luck and we got it. If the number 8 horse [Coola Hula] doesn't force the pace, then Everything might have won easily," said Adamo. "And we got an awesome ride from Ramsammy."

Tsakpina stalked from third then won going away by two lengths.

Adamo's other win Sunday was with Love Shy, who won a starter allowance race on the turf at 1 1/16 miles. The winning margin was a neck. Although Adamo has both horses nominated to the $100,000 Rainbow Connection on Tuesday, neither will run in it.

Tsakpina might go in a claimer next. "I like to lose horses as much as I like to claim them," said Adamo. "That's how you make money at this game. You don't want to be the last to own a horse. If I can take a one-level drop, I'll do it. If it wins and is claimed, it's all right with me. I was told once, 'Remember one thing. Money doesn't break down - horses do.' "

Adamo got interested in horses at an early age when he accompanied his horseplaying father to the Fort Erie track.

"The excitement got me," he said. "My mother said that if I went to college I could do anything I wanted."

He graduated from a two-year college with a degree in animal science. At 19, after a written examination, he received a trainer's license at Turfway Park in Kentucky.

Along the way he worked as an assistant one winter to New York trainer Michael Hushion. Adamo has always been proud of his winning percentage, which has been 20 percent over the years. "Until this year, the most I've had is eight horses - and I've won 10 to 13 races a year."

Last year Adamo won 10 races from 43 starts (23 percent). This year he has 15 runners in his barn. "Things are starting to work for me," he said. "Being an American has been tough. I didn't know enough people in Toronto to get horses sent down to me. Now I may get an opportunity to end up with some from Toronto."