02/24/2003 12:00AM

Lawyer also has a case as trainer

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ALBANY, Calif. - When Brian Pitnick was a hotshot math student in high school, his math teacher in his hometown of Carlisle, Pa., taught him to read a Daily Racing Form, thereby beginning a love affair with the sport that has led him from being a fan at Penn National to an owner to a trainer.

Pitnick, who is still a practicing attorney, saddled his first winner Saturday at Golden Gate Fields when Always a Player won an $8,000 maiden claimer in wire-to-wire style going six furlongs.

"I've always loved the game," Pitnick said. "I gave up being a full-time attorney to come to the backstretch. I love horses. I prefer training to litigating."

Pitnick got his trainer's license four months ago. He was an owner for 14 years.

Pitnick loved coming to the backstretch and being around horses as an owner, and actually groomed some of his own horses. He said trainers Tony Diaz and Angelo Tekos were instrumental in helping him along the path to becoming a trainer.

Pitnick has only two horses in his barn but says, "There are soon to be more."

Always a Player was the 11th horse Pitnick saddled as a trainer. He had three thirds from his first 10 starters.

Pitnick owns Always a Player with Alki Roma Racing.

"Originally, there were four partners, but two walked away because they didn't think he was much, so it's especially gratifying to win with him," Pitnick said.

Feature pits 3-year-old sprinters

Seven 3-year-olds will meet in Wednesday's Golden Gate Fields feature, a $50,000 optional claimer at six furlongs.

The field includes an uncoupled entry for leading trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who will send out Silver Tsunami, a half-brother of Metatron, and Eye of the Tiger, a Triple Crown nominee who might be Hollendorfer's best 3-year-old.

Stakes-placed Hawaiian Lyon, Natural Balance, and West Saratoga are also in the lineup, as are Midafternoon and Attack Force, who have received fresheners since winning their last race.

Eye of the Tiger rallied wide from well off the pace to win his debut Nov. 30. He then ran third behind Scrimshaw and Zayed in a tough allowance race at Santa Anita on Dec. 26. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92 in that race and figures to be hard to hold off in the lane under leading rider Russell Baze.

- Jockey A.L. Castanon will be sidelined this week after receiving a five-day suspension for his ride aboard Katallini in last Thurs-day's fifth race. Katallini bumped with Tychonic Lady, knocking her off stride. Hurricane Julia clipped heels with Tychonic and fell in the incident.

- Apprentice jockey Jorge Carreno took off his mounts Sunday after he fell from Commander Lee on the first turn of Saturday's seventh race. Carreno was taken to Alta Bates Hospital in Berkeley to be X-rayed for a possible hairline fracture of his femur, but X-rays were negative and his thigh was only bruised. He is expected to ride Wednesday.