07/31/2003 12:00AM

Joy wisely returns to what he does best


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Trainer Kevin Joy once had a formula for success at Suffolk Downs, but he chose to change the playbook with disastrous results. With that lesson learned and a back-to-basics approach, Joy enjoyed a phenomenal run here this week by saddling five consecutive winners, including four on one day.

In the mid-1990's, Joy appeared to be poised for long-term success in New England and perhaps even bigger things beyond the region. After getting his start in 1986, Joy built his stable from just a couple of horses to an entire barnful by 1994.

Most of Joy's growth came from shrewd claiming and good fortune with inexpensive 2-year-olds. It helped him win the training title for the 1998 Suffolk spring meet. He remains the only man not named Ron Dandy to have won that honor during the past eight years.

But despite what seemed like a strong foundation for continued success, Joy went through a difficult period and had to transfer most of his horses to another trainer earlier this year because of financial problems.

"I had some really hard times this past year and a half and it's really nice to come out of it," said Joy. "I got off of the plan that had been a success for me. I started claiming the really expensive horses in New York, and got away from claiming the horses I know, and from working with the 2-year-olds. We've got a couple now that look like they could be pretty good. I'm just glad to be able to enjoy where I'm at right now."

Mexican Connection, Roy's Secret, Linden Hill, and Really Traveling are proof positive that Joy is back on his game. All four won on Monday with Hangupthephone's narrow miss in the day's opening race denying Joy a sweep with all five of his starters that day. Sweep's Choice won Tuesday's second race to give Joy five consecutive victories.

"I went into the day thinking I had a chance to win five," said Joy. "Usually when you feel that way, you're happy to win a couple. That was just incredible."

Stylish Sultan totes 130 pounds

Stylish Sultan will carry 130 pounds in Saturday's $35,000 John R. Macomber Stakes for Massachusetts-breds.

The 4-year-old Stylish Sultan has made the statebred stakes program his own and even with the hefty assignment will still be formidable against his six rivals, who each get either 16 or 20 pounds from him.

Seabiscuit, Whirlaway, Cigar, and Skip Away are among the greats to successfully carry 130 pounds in races at Suffolk.

Others haven't done so well when asked to carry 130 pounds or more. War Admiral finished fourth in the 1938 Massachusetts Handicap carrying 130. Two others, Challedon in 1940 and Fenelon in 1941, lost Mass Caps at that weight. Discovery lost twice in 1935 and 1936 at 138 and 136 pounds, respectively. Gun Bow lost the 1965 Mass Cap at 131 pounds.