07/25/2007 11:00PM

Rivalry renewed in stakes


The two most successful fillies in recent years at Suffolk Downs will square off again Saturday when Ask Queenie and Flirt for Fame go at it in the $45,000 First Episode Stakes.

The two Massachusetts-bred females have been carving up the statebred stakes program for a season and a half, with Ask Queenie coming out on top more often. Flirt for Fame, however, beat Ask Queenie in the mile and 70-yard First Episode last year and is out to defend her title.

Ask Queenie, trained by Lori Lockhart, has won 2 of her last 3 starts, both at the expense of Flirt for Fame. She won an open allowance race July 11 and the Isadorable Stakes June 9. She finished second to regional turf champion British Event on grass in another open allowance June 20.

Flirt for Fame, a 4-year-old daughter of Freud, has kept the 6-year-old Ask Queenie honest and has made her work for all of her Massachusetts-bred cash. In addition to her mild upset in this race last year, she won two stakes when Ask Queenie has been absent.

Also in the race is Ask Queenie's barnmate Southoftheborder, nominally trained by Lockhart's father, Floyd. She will try to bounce back from a fourth-place effort after a poor break in the Isadorable.

Mystery Jet Stakes winner Lily's Goldmine and the latest vowel-challenged runners from owner-trainer Patricia Meadow, Ydy and Zyth, round out the field.

Regional champion reclaimed

When Bodgiteer was named the James Moseley New England Horse of the Year last week at the annual turf writers awards banquet, his former owner, Lawrence Higgins, wasn't there to accept the trophy. That's because he was at Ellis Park working on claiming the gelding back.

After winning three races at Suffolk last summer and fall, Bodgiteer was claimed away from Higgins and trainer Paul Thornton for $32,000 in an optional claiming race at Tampa Bay Downs in December.

Bodgiteer raced six times for trainer Barbara McBride and owner Neal Allred until he finished last in an allowance race at Indiana Downs last month. When he popped up in a $4,000 claimer at Ellis on July 13, Higgins rushed to the rescue.

Thornton said the gelding will be fully evaluated by Higgins's vet, but there is no rush to keep the horse in training, and claiming rules in Kentucky say the horse can't leave Ellis until the end of the meet, Sept. 3.

New Rivera in town

A search of jockeys named Jose Rivera yields seven names. The latest and youngest to join the list is Jose M. Rivera, who arrived at Suffolk eight weeks ago and made his biggest splash last week with three straight wins.

The 19-year-old from Puerto Rico graduated jockey school last year and arrived in the United States in April.

Jose F. Rivera Jr. (no relation) rode successfully in New England for many years, notably in the early 1990s at Rockingham Park and on the fair circuit.

Championship qualifier on tap

Suffolk will holds the first of its two Daily Racing Form/National Thoroughbred Racing Association National Handicapping Championship qualifiers on Saturday, Aug. 4.

The $60 buy-in tournament is a chance to earn a berth in the national finals in Las Vegas next January. The field is limited to 300 entrants, with reservations available on the track's website.