11/22/2002 1:00AM

Pedigree buff's advice pays off big time for Perozzi


Ron Perozzi is not afraid to take chances. His view on life is "if you don't live on the edge, you are taking up too much room."

Perozzi and his longtime trainer, Lupe Preciado, took a chance and shipped their Philadelphia Park-based 3-year-old filly Caught in the Rain to Churchill Downs for the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes on Nov. 16.

One of the longest shots in the 11-horse field at 32-1, Caught in the Rain, a wispy dark bay Pennsylvania-bred daughter of Petionville making only her seventh start, forced the pace throughout the 1 1/16-mile Mrs. Revere and doggedly held off favorite Glia to win by a neck.

"I've never been so emotional after a race," Perozzi said.

Caught in the Rain, bred by Perozzi under the name of his Casino Royale Farm, has come along at just the right time for her owner. With the Mrs. Revere Stakes victory, her third straight, Caught in the Rain boosted her earnings to $189,506. She also won Philadelphia Park's Mrs. Penny Stakes on Oct. 5 and an allowance on Oct. 23 at Aqueduct, both against older mares. All three of her recent scores have come since switching to the turf and competing at a distance greater than a mile.

Perozzi has always wanted a turf horse and purchased the unraced mare Jinger Feathers, a daughter of turf runner and sire Fred Astaire, on the recommendation of his longtime friend and bloodstock adviser Dr. Robert Fishman.

Perozzi, who describes his friend as "passionate about pedigrees," credits Fishman with planning the mating of Jinger Feathers to Petionville.

"He loved the multiple combinations of Tom Fool and Ribot in the pedigree," noted Perozzi.

It was just a matter of time until Caught in the Rain, named for an Irving Berlin song from a Fred Astaire and Ginger Rogers movie, was tried on the turf.

Caught in the Rain could provide the means for Perozzi to fulfill his dream of turning Casino Royale Farm into a full-scale Thoroughbred training center. The 227-acre spread, located in New Jersey just 17 miles west of Atlantic City, has plenty of room, with nearly 100 stalls, to provide housing for New Jersey runners.

Perozzi has had numerous offers for Caught in the Rain and, with Jinger Feathers (currently in foal to Petionville) still in his broodmare band, Perozzi would be willing to let the filly go, if the price is right. The income would go a long way toward constructing the planned five-eighth-mile training track at Casino Royale.

If Perozzi keeps Caught in the Rain, whom he considers the best horse he has bred, the filly will most likely ship to Florida or California to race over the winter months.

The uncertainty of New Jersey's racing and breeding industry has prompted Perozzi to regularly foal his mares in Pennsylvania, although when optimism ran high a few years ago, the Casino Royale mares foaled in New Jersey, the result being Perozzi's current crop of 2-year-olds. But, with his runners based with Preciado in Pennsylvania, Perozzi has an added incentive to foal in the Keystone State.

When boarding in Pennsylvania, Perozzi has supported a number of different farms, but his two best runners were both born at the Lyman family's Maui Meadow Farm in West Chester, Pa.

Maui Meadow was also the birthplace of Iron Punch, a superb sprinter trained by Perozzi who won $335,280. A son of Iron, Iron Punch won three stakes, including the Grade 3 Philadelphia Park Breeders' Cup Handicap, and set Philadelphia Park's existing six-furlong track record of 1:07.89.

Scheduled to retire to stud at Casino Royale in 2002, Iron Punch was severely injured in a workout prior to his last start nearly a year ago and was euthanized.

Perozzi was devastated by the loss of Iron Punch. But within months, Caught in the Rain made her debut. And with Iron Punch's half-brother Casino Raider at the track and a winner of his last two, including an allowance at Philadelphia Park the same afternoon as Caught in the Rain's score at Churchill Downs score, Perozzi is definitely enjoying life on the edge.