10/01/2003 11:00PM

Iwinski doubleheader


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Trainer Allen Iwinski could be primed for a spectacular Saturday.

He will run Dashboard Drummer, winner of the Sapling Stakes at Monmouth Park, in the Grade 1, $500,000 Champagne Stakes at Belmont that afternoon.

Then it's over to The Meadowlands to saddle the entry of Cupid Season and Stacy's Squaw in the $45,000 Just Smashing Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going six furlongs.

Both fillies come into the race on three-race win streaks.

"Both are at the top of their game," said Iwinski. "Both have gone through their conditions. There are not a lot of 3-year-old filly sprint stakes left and they both deserve a shot."

Iwinski had high hopes for Stacy's Squaw over the winter. "We thought she could be any kind of filly," he said. "We thought she could win a stakes at Gulfstream."

It didn't pan out.

"She started to go backwards," said Iwinski. "She started to lose weight. We sent her to the farm."

Stacy's Squaw returned to races in fine form, while Cupid Season has just started to develop. "She's a small filly but you can slowly see her getting better and better," Iwinski said.

Iwinski plans to run both in the Just Smashing. Joe Bravo rides Cupid Season; Ramon Dominguez has the mount on Stacy's Squaw.

The Iwinski duo will face six rivals.

Santagata nears 1,000 Big M wins

Nick Santagata, the elder statesman in The Meadowlands jockey colony, has a milestone within his grasp. Santagata, the all-time leader in Big M victories, started the meet needing only 13 more to reach 1,000.

Santagata, who has ridden at the track 26 consecutive years, remains motivated at age 46. "I've got to get that this meet," he said of the 1,000th win. "The last couple of years I've missed a lot of time with injuries or I would have it by now."

The Big M started late start this year, opening Thursday night for a 28-day meet. Santagata hopes the dates change helps his cause. "A lot of the top guys go to Florida and won't stay around," he said. "I might pick up some extra work."

His lone Big M riding title came in 1981. He has ridden more than 8,000 races at the track.

While Monmouth remains Santagata's favorite track "by five lengths," he said, the Big M holds a special spot in his heart. "I'm looking forward to coming back and seeing a lot of friends I've made there over the years," he said. "Getting the 13 more wins would be a real dream come true."

* Saturday marks the 12th anniversary of Safely Kept's win in the Budweiser Breeders' Cup Stakes. She ran the six furlongs in 1:08.80.