11/06/2003 1:00AM

Sanna up with the big boys


As a teenager more than 30 years ago, Nick Sanna worked odd jobs at Delaware Park, selling tip sheets and sweeping the grandstand after the races.

"I used to say, 'One of these days maybe I could be one these guys racing horses,' " Sanna recalled.

In 1999, Sanna's dream came true when he bought a couple of racehorses. The initial results were modest as Sanna's horses won no more than one or two races a year.

This season, however, everything has fallen into place. Sanna, 52, the owner of a roofing business and a native of Wilmington, Del., came into the closing weekend of the season at Delaware Park tied for leading owner honors.

Before Saturday's program, Sanna had 30 wins from 86 starts, despite having only between 18 and 20 horses during the course of the meet. The well-stocked barn of owner Richard Englander has 30 wins from 147 starts.

Unfortunately for Sanna, he has no more horses to run the last two days of the meet. Englander has four runners entered- all of them contenders - so it is highly likely he will edge Sanna for the title.

Sanna can take small consolation, however, by boasting he has the most wins in Thoroughbred races. Three of Englander's victories came with an Arabian filly, Joyful Love, who will be a heavy favorite to win her fourth straight in the final race of the meet Sunday.

Sanna credits his success to hooking up with trainer Mike Pino. Last year, Sanna introduced himself to Pino and asked if he would train for him.

"We had a meeting," Sanna said. "It just took off from there, and it has worked out a lot better than I could have ever imagined."

Sanna considers his favorite horses this season to be:

* Great Commander, a 3-year-old gelding who began the year running in $5,000 claiming races for nonwinners of three lifetime. He has won twice in six starts at Delaware and recently has been competitive against first-level allowance horses.

* Smooth Maneuvers, a 3-year-old filly claimed out of a $25,000 maiden race. Since the acquisition, she has won back-to-back races and most recently finished second in the Cordially Stakes on Oct. 25.

* Ground Breaking, a 2-year-old gelding who has 1 win and 4 seconds in 5 starts. He will make his stakes debut in Saturday's Rollicking Stakes at Laurel.

Shecky Greene: Three for the course

Acrolect, Private Lap, and Distinct Vision have combined to win 15 races and collect four seconds in 20 lifetime starts at Delaware. The three horses for the course head the field for the 1 1/16-mile Shecky Greene, one of two overnight stakes worth $55,000 on Saturday's program.

Private Lap, the 123-pound highweight, is the likely favorite. A 4-year-old colt trained by Steve Klesaris, Private Lap has already won three stakes at Delaware this season, two over sloppy tracks. He has been freshened since winning the nine-furlong Caesar Rodney Handicap with a Beyer Speed Figure of 106 on Sept. 27.

The 6-year-old Acrolect hasn't broken 100 on the Beyer scale since last year, but prepped for Saturday's stakes by winning a high-priced claimer with a 99 Beyer in mid-October.

Distinct Vision, a 3-year-old trained by Mike Pino, has yet to win a stakes, but he owns three wins against older horses, including a 4 1/4-length romp in his most recent start, less than two weeks ago.

The co-featured Stanton, a six-furlong stakes for 2-year-old fillies, is headed by Little Andrea. An easy winner sprinting against maidens on Sept. 24, Little Andrea will be returning to her best distance after flashing speed and stopping in the Grade 1 Frizette at 1 1/16 miles, a race in which the first three finishers went on to run in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Her main rival appears to be Singing Laur, who has won two of her last three starts, all at less than even money.