06/05/2001 11:00PM

More the merrier for H.M.S. Jackson's connections


OCEANPORT, N.J. - If H.M.S. Jackson wins Friday's eighth race for New Jersey-breds, expect a large crowd in the winner's circle.

H.M.S. Jackson, a 4-year-old colt, is owned by the Headless Horsemen Racing Stable, an ownership group that allows racing fans to enjoy the thrill of owning Thoroughbreds without paying huge sums.

The stable is managed by three men: Dr. Joe Conroy, Pete Glen, and Randy DePolo. Out of friendship and love for horse racing, the three started the stable in 1996, simply to continue their interest in a new aspect of the sport. The trio purchased the claimer Patti Time, and since have expanded the ownership so that a wide range of friends and connections can become involved. In the process, the three have taken on the roles of owners and managers; they purchase the horse and sell shares to others, or pool interest and money to purchase a horse, with all actively involved in the selection. Each horse purchased by the stable retains the Headless Horsemen name but has its own group of owners.

The biggest win for the stable, thus far, came last year, when the 4-year-old Dare to Cope won the Captive Miss Stakes here on the turf. Dare to Cope was tried on the turf for the first time at the beginning of the meet, in a $40,000 claiming race. The owners wanted a turf race, but didn't want the filly to get claimed. She won easily, and wasn't claimed. Her next start was the stakes win, and later in the meet, she placed in the Twin Lights stakes.

"This has taken on a life of its own after Dare to Cope won the stakes," said Conroy, 43, a child psychologist. "There was a surreal feeling in the winner's circle after the race. We looked at each other and couldn't believe we had won a stakes race. "

H.M.S. Jackson, trained by Tim Hills, is a likely favorite in Friday's feature, a $50,000 nonwinners-of-three-other-than allowance at six furlongs for statebreds. H.M.S. Jackson already has a win this meet, an allowance score on opening day. In the winner's circle after the win, Glen, 40, a loan officer, counted 42 people. DePolo, 43, is involved works in I.T. recruiting.

Recently, the Headless Horsemen Racing Stable has become open to interested outsiders. The stable has gained popularity through its website, www.headlesshorsemenracing.com, and through the New Jersey Breeders' Association. The interest spurred the stable to form a group and purchased Ballarta Nena, a Jersey-bred 2-year-old that has been training at Fair Hill. In the future, the stable plans on purchasing yearlings.

"It's great to get friends into owning," Glen said, "and for them to come out and watch their horses run at Monmouth Park."

H.M.S. Jackson will start from post 10 Friday, carrying 119 pounds with Eibar Coa aboard.