11/11/2004 12:00AM

Papa Dancer heads Peabody cast

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EAST BOSTON, Mass. - There haven't been many races for 2-year-olds in New England this year, and the $40,000 Amelia Peabody Stakes for Massachusetts-breds will probably decide the state's juvenile championship.

Only three of the seven fillies in the Peabody have won a race and one is a first-time starter. The likely favorite is Papa Dancer, who overcame some skittishness at the starting gate to run away to a wire-to-wire debut score last month. She has since turned in a five-furlong bullet workout from the gate.

The one-two finishers from a maiden race on Oct. 26, Strawberry Patch and Sundance Shamrock, drew the rail and the far outside. Each showed enough maturity to rally late in the race.

Branded in Gold has steadily improved in four starts, culminating in a win Sept. 13 for trainer Frank Shannon. Leading jockey Joe Hampshire will be aboard.

Stylish Sultana is the latest member of the first family of Massachusetts-breds to come along for owner Manny Roos and leading trainer John Rigattieri. Sired by Sundance Ridge and out of the mare Sultan's Light, Stylish Sultana is a full sister to Stylish Sultan and Sunlit Ridge, who have dominated the statebred races for the past four years. Stylish Sultana finished fifth in back in July in her only race.

The six-furlong Peabody is the third race on the nine-race program.

Another group of 2-year-olds runs in the fifth race, a second-level allowance. That race features the filly Cape Cod Rose, who won impressively on Oct. 13 while taking on six males.

Wild Wednesday

It wasn't a full moon, but something celestial seemingly made it a wacky Wednesday at Suffolk.

The battery for one of the starting gates died just before the first race. In the third race, a horse flipped in the starting gate, causing a five-minute delay. The stewards disqualified the winner of the fourth race for what they saw as two distinct fouls in the same race. They then declared Nieges Que Te Amo a non-starter in the fifth race, after he reared up in the gate and unseated jockey Edwin Molinari seconds before the starter opened the gates. The horse ran loose during the race and bothered some of the other horses, but was covered up so well in the pack, the track announcer and fans couldn't tell what had happened until the far turn.

None of the horses or riders was injured in any of the incidents.

Saturday promotions

Suffolk Downs will give away a trip to Las Vegas as well as five $100 betting vouchers during Saturday's card.

In two weeks, local horseplayers can to try and win their way to the Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship when Suffolk holds a qualifying tournament Nov. 27.

Hinsdale Greyhound Park in southwestern New Hampshire has a $100 buy-in handicapping tournament Nov. 18, all the entry fees being paid out as prizes.