06/26/2008 12:00AM

Senor St. Pat returns in Rise Jim

Email

There have been 25 Massachusetts-bred stakes at Suffolk Downs in the last two years. The winners of 16 of them will come together Saturday for the de facto state championship in the $50,000 Rise Jim Stakes.

It helps that the female stars Ask Queenie and Flirt for Fame are in the mix. The two have combined to win 13 stakes since 2006, with the older Ask Queenie doing most of the victory dances lately.

Both are no strangers to taking on males and should get tests from the defending Rise Jim champ Senor St. Pat and stakes winners Fifty Seven G and Gorgeous Silk.

Senor St. Pat is making his first start of the year after going to the sidelines last fall to have debris surgically removed from his knee.

"It was a little injury that we wanted operated on," said trainer John Rigattieri who has his customary spot atop the standings with 21 wins this season. "He just wasn't doing well, so we decided to give him the time off."

Last year, Senor St. Pat had been racing steadily through the winter before overpowering the field by 6 1/4 lengths in the Rise Jim. Rigattieri said the gelding has been training well this spring.

"You can't really compare racing all winter in Maryland to two months of workouts," he said. "The fitness isn't the same, but he's been doing all right and I expect him to run well."

Ask Queenie makes her 46th start and is looking for her 22nd win. She hasn't finished off the board since July 2006, 18 starts ago.

Flirt for Fame won five stakes in 2006 as a 3-year-old filly, but played Alydar to Ask Queenie's Affirmed in three stakes last year. They met for the first time this season in an allowance on May 28, losing to Nijinsky's Bullet, with Ask Queenie in second and Flirt for Fame third.

Fifty Seven G returns to statebred company after being beaten by Place Your Bet in the Rudy Baez Stakes on May 26. The winner of the John Kirby Stakes last October, Fifty Seven G won at Finger Lakes and Laurel in April and March. Leading jockey David Amiss reunites with the gelding.

Gorgeous Silk upset Fifty Seven G and Senor St. Pat in the Last Dance Stakes last summer at 14-1. He looks to rebound after being eased in an allowance race June 14 when he was favored at 3-2.

New England racing royalty is represented by half-brothers Petesamassbred and Runnymede's Lad, both bred by Peter Fuller. Petesamassbred won an allowance race two starts back and was second in this race last year.

Saturday's race is named for Rise Jim, a New England Hall of Famer who won 12 stakes in the late 1970s.

Piermarini awaits okay from doctors

Jockey Tammi Piermarini just needs medical clearance to return to the saddle after suffering severe whiplash in a spill June 18.

The leading jockey at Suffolk in 2007, she expects to be back within weeks.

"If it was my choice, I'd be back riding this weekend," Piermarini said. "I'm at my best right now and I'm not going to stop."