08/07/2002 11:00PM

Rockingham-ers splash big at Spa


SALEM, N.H. - With all the pageantry of Saratoga a mere 3 1/2 hours away, New England's racing fans can easily be drawn into desires to make a splash at the Spa. Trainer John Rigatteri has already made a big splash there, and remains easy-going about his latest success.

The Rigatteri-trained Briano was part of a New England uprising at Saratoga over the first two weeks of the meet, scoring a victory at $58.50 in a New York-bred allowance race July 26. It was the second straight win in New York for Briano, Rigatteri, and owner Rocco Bueti. Every year, Rockingham-based horses tend to score some of the more memorable upsets at the Spa; Briano's was the first this year.

"This horse is a decent horse with conditions that fit him," said Rigatteri. "Sure, everybody has dreams about going out there and winning races, but you can only have the right horse. In this case, this horse was the right horse. You don't even need a great horse, just the one that fits."

Owner Anthony Pyliotis and trainer Dimitrios Synnefias represented New England with another Saratoga winner: Captain Red, who sprinted to a claiming victory last Sunday. Like Briano's win, it was the horse's second straight win in New York, following a wire-to-wire victory at Belmont.

Also last Sunday, Danielle's Magic shipped to Saratoga and finished a close second in a $49,000 allowance for owner-trainer Jennifer Hayford after a similar runner-up effort in the Rockingham Sprint Handicap behind Esteemed Friend.

You can also throw in Del Mar Show's win in the Bernard Baruch as having New England influence, it coming on the heels of his score in the New Hampshire Sweepstakes.

Meanwhile, Rigatteri is focused on his Rockingham barn, considering that he has held second place in the trainers' standings for most of the meet.

"I don't worry about that kind of stuff," he said. "As long as my owners are winning and everyone is healthy [I'm happy]. It's not like we're going against the other trainers. It's not like we're out there for 162 games a year."

Jacavone suspended

Trainer J.J. Jacavone has been suspended after his runner Code Found tested positive for a metabolite of cocaine and a subsequent search of the Jacavone barn allegedly uncovered syringes.

Code Found was disqualified from his win in the eighth race last Saturday. Jacavone was banned pending an upcoming hearing.

Lemons to lemonade

It is hard to deny the will power of jockey Joe Hampshire after the week he had.

Hampshire was slapped with a suspension for careless riding in a race on July 29, but appealed in order to get a chance to ride Calista in the Spicy Living on Sunday. He made the most of the opportunity, winning 10 races over three days, including the $100,000 Spicy Living, and pulling within two wins of leading jockey Winston Thompson.

"I've had some bad luck this meet," said Hampshire before last weekend. "I've sat out days before, and I'm not doing anything different this year than any other year. I just think it's a coincidence. I just know I've got some live mounts, and I've got to concentrate on winning as many races as I can, because I know I might be looking at a vacation."

With his mission accomplished, Hampshire withdrew his appeal and will sit out this weekend. He is eligible to return on Wednesday.

* Daily Racing Form and Rockingham will continue their handicapping seminar series Saturday at noon outside the Belmont Room.

* Sunday is the Coca-Cola Family Fest, featuring several drawings for Boston Red Sox tickets, passes to nearby Canobie Lake Park, and a child's mountain bike.