10/16/2002 11:00PM

Mom's Command anything but a layup


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Every year the New England Turf Writers are forced to wait until the Mom's Command Stakes to crown a champion 2-year-old filly. This year, however, with division leader Sweet Samantha resting on her two superb wins this summer, there's only a faint chance the seven entrants in Saturday's $30,000 sprint could steal the title.

While the door to a championship seems closed, the race itself is wide open, with Jill's Layup the only two-time winner in the field. The daughter of Senor Conquistador finished seven lengths behind Sweet Samantha in the Concord Stakes at Rockingham Park, then promptly flattered her with an impressive allowance win at Suffolk on Oct. 4.

A Saturday victory would make Jill's Layup the fourth Massachusetts-bred to win an open-company stakes this year - joining African Princess, Stylish Sultan, and Sunlit Ridge - an unprecedented accomplishment.

Naromes, who won her maiden two races after Jill's Layup's score Oct. 4, figures to be the main competition. Naromes went 0 for 4 at the Rock, but awoke over the deeper winter track in East Boston.

Island Melody returned to form with a runner-up finish to Jill's Layup in their last race, and appears to have recovered from the 22-length drubbing she got in the Concord.

Cat's Girl will make her New England debut after a wire-to-wire maiden score at Calder on Sept. 30. Transferred by J.F. Stable to Peter Bazeos, the Cat's Career filly will turn back from a mile to six furlongs in the Mom's Command.

Women dominate trainer standings

Suffolk Downs has always been known as a good place for female jockeys to get their careers started. Women are now a strong presence among the training ranks as well, occupying the top two spots in the standings and half of the top 10.

Lori Lockhart, buoyed by the success of her extensive homebred string, is tied with Kathleen Dandy, who has taken charge of her husband Ron's stable while he serves a 30-day suspension.

Florence Siravo, Dana Popp, and Suzanne Kelly each have three winners for spots in the top 10.

* He's not going to get any awards, but credit Avalancher for his steadiness. In his 100th career start Tuesday, the 10-year-old posted his 26th win. During his eight years in the game, the gelded son of Frosty the Snowman has finished in the money 69 times and earned $197,000 with all but two of those races coming in New England.

* Barring the unforeseen, jockey Winston Thompson should reach the 2,000-win plateau this weekend. The 38-year-old Jamaican native has enjoyed a stellar journeyman career in New England. His run to this latest milestone was accelerated in the past three years, when he became first-call jockey for Yasou Stable Trust.

* Suffolk Downs will card an early seven-race program on Breeders' Cup Day, with first post at 10:15 a.m. There will be separate pools available to allow for "pool shopping," and there will be advance wagering into the national pools beginning next Friday.