11/11/2009 1:00AM

Richiefromshoprite owns distinct edge

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EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - Richiefromshoprite quickly developed a cult following this past summer at Monmouth Park.

How could he not, with a distinctive name like that?

His popularity could swell Friday night at the Meadowlands with a victory in the open division of the New Jersey Juvenile. There is also a separate filly division with each race worth $60,000. They are richest events of the season for New Jersey-bred 2-year-olds.

Owner-breeder Joel Kligman named the chestnut colt Richiefromshoprite for a longtime hotwalker at Monmouth who also works at a local supermarket.

The name caught on quickly, and so did Richiefromshoprite with 2 wins from 3 starts. The lone loss was a head defeat in the slop last time out at Philadelphia Park.

His Beyer Speed Figures are on the upswing, topping out at 79 in his latest effort - at least 20 points better than all but one of his eight rivals in the six-furlong race.

Richiefromshoprite is also taking a class drop. His two victories came at Monmouth, and the colt has never run in a statebred race. His three efforts, and his Beyers, were all fashioned against open company.

"When I had the horse ready, there were no Jersey-bred races," said trainer Stacy Machiz. "The last race we had to take him out of town to see how he would handle shipping and give him more experience. Our goal had always been to run him with the New Jersey-breds because Joel gets more money."

Richiefromshoprite, a real stable pet, finally gets that opportunity.

"He's so good natured," said Machiz, whose husband, Gary, is a Standardbred trainer. "I always used Richie as my lead pony to go with anybody who needed company. He just has a great attitude. We really didn't know how talented he was until he started working and racing. He's a little on the small side, but he has a really big heart and he just wants to go."

Love Who is the only horse in the field with stakes experience, having run fourth most recently in the Maryland Millions Nursery at Laurel.

There is a Laurel connection in the filly division where Lil Kiara, winner of the Maryland Millions Lassie Stakes, is the one to beat despite landing post 14. She is part of an entry with Our Eponene for Philadelphia Park-based trainer Cal Lynch.