05/16/2002 11:00PM

Hot dogs in paradise at Suffolk


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - The horse and the hot dog will be celebrated by as many as 30,000 fans at Suffolk Downs as the Hot dog Safari comes to the track for the fourth straight year.

Local sports radio personality Eddie Andelman, who has been a media fixture in Boston for 30 years and a horse racing fan, began what would become the Safari in 1990 when callers to his talk show claime to make the best hot dogs. A bus trip with 200 listeners to sample different frankfurters and sausages evolved into a day-long fair.

Proceeds from the event are donated to the Joey Fund for Cystic Fibrosis, a charity started by Suffolk Downs board member and Boston Concessions Group president Joe O'Donnell in memory of his son, Joey, who died from the disease.

The Safari was held during Suffolk's off-season in 1998, but ever since it has been held alongside live racing. This year it will be televised live on the Boston WB affiliate, channel 56.

The Safari turns an otherwise sleepy post-Preakness Sunday card into one of the biggest events on Suffolk's calendar. It also puts live racing on the airwaves in Boston for the first time in two years. It also allows Andelman to merge some of his biggest passions.

"I want Thoroughbred racing to flourish and we need new blood in the sport," said Andelman. "By having a family day like this, kids and whole families can come down and have a great time, see a great show, and sense the excitement. I know a certain percentage will come back for more racing on another day."

Despite the atypically large crowd, accommodations are being made for regular Suffolk patrons. While tickets for the Safari are $15 for admission to the grandstand (and all the hot dogs you can eat), parking and clubhouse admission will be free. In addition, the track's simulcast production is being incorporated into the television program. A full menu of out-of-town simulcasts will be available in the clubhouse as well.

Andelman said he will occasionally steal a glance at a simulcast or two despite the busy day on which he will pull double duty as both a radio and television host.

"I still think there's nothing as thrilling in any sport as placing a bet, being down on the apron, seeing a photo finish, and asking everyone around who won it," said Andelman.

First post time for the Safari card is 12:45 pm. Regular Sunday post time of 1:30 pm will return next week.

Tejano on top

Tejano Couture moved to the top of the national standings with his sixth win of 2002 last week and is bidding to be the latest New England-based horse to lead North America in total victories.

The former stakes runner moved out of a tie with Onasilverplatter, who had been racing at Tampa Bay Downs, after his 1 1/2-length win last Sunday.

Several New England runners have finished near the top of the winningest horse list over the past five years. Consistent claimer Maybe Jake topped the list in 1997 after a match race at Suffolk Downs against Finger Lakes-based Pro on Ice.