05/26/2004 11:00PM

Local heroes fight it out in Rise Jim

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EAST BOSTON, Mass. - With the stakes raised in the battle to prove which horse is the best Massachusetts-bred, Jini's Jet takes on fellow statebred champion Stylish Sultan in the $40,000 Rise Jim Stakes at six furlongs.

Jini's Jet has won 10 of 19 races at Suffolk Downs, including several stakes, and has earned $246,820. Stylish Sultan has won nine of 13 Suffolk races, including five stakes last year, and earned $244,440.

Owner Anthony Spadea and trainer Karl Grusmark upped the ante last month by paying $40,000 to claim back Jini's Jet from Michael Gill. Spadea and Grusmark lost Jini's Jet in a $32,000 optional claimer two months earlier. They're confident they can make up the difference in the statebred stakes program, although the Rise Jim might not be the spot where they earn it all back.

"It was difficult to have to pay more to claim him back, but he had had some surgery last year, and he was doing really well," said Grusmark. "You never know what is going to happen when you get them back like that, but he's in pretty good shape, and we know what he needs. Problem is, this isn't his best distance. I'd have to say Stylish Sultan will be the big horse in the race, because he's beaten us pretty good at this distance."

Stylish Sultan has been on the sidelines since March, when he came up short in two races at Laurel for owner Manny Roos and the father-son training team of Arthur Duffy Sr. and Arthur Duffy Jr. Stylish Sultan has been out of the money once in eight six-furlong races, with that loss coming over a sloppy track in the Macomber Stakes last summer. In his last two efforts returning from a layoff, he's won and finished second.

Jockey Orlando Bocachica will have the mount on Stylish Sultan.

Jini's Jet exits a second-place finish in a turf race at Pimlico, his first start since returning to Grusmark's barn. That race is part of the reason Grusmark isn't trying to make all the money back in this one weekend.

"He needs to win one or two of these statebred races to amortize himself," said Grusmark. "If he can finish in the money this race we'll be pretty happy, since his best shots are going to come going long and now on the turf after what he showed us in his last race. Until we can beat him, Stylish Sultan is the king of the hill."

Trainer John Rodriguez will attack the Rise Jim with numbers by saddling a three-horse entry of Moosup Valley, Bowen Hill, and Genuine Regard.

Rise Jim entrant Diggin' for Fun upset Stylish Sultan in the Second Episode Stallion Stakes in November 2002 and returns to Suffolk for the first time this year at age 9. Storm Quest and Caramel's Express round out the field.

Hampshire off to hot start again

Leading jockey Joe Hampshire started the 2004 racing season with another one of his hot streaks.

Hampshire won at least one race on each of the first 12 racing days. In 2002, he won at least one race a day for 24 days.

This latest streak ended Tuesday, when he was blanked on his only two mounts. A victory Wednesday kept him four victories ahead of Dyn Panell in the jockey standings. Panell has been doing well thanks mainly to his association with leading trainer John Rigattieri.

Bramante suspended 90 days

Trainer Bernie Bramante was slapped with a 90-day suspension and $500 fine when Hey Mister B tested positive for cocaine after a race on May 8.

Owned by Neville Johnson, Hey Mister B finishing second in the first race that day, but has been disqualified from purse money. It was the only horse Bramante has started this meet.