11/10/2005 12:00AM

Slam Bammy in first stakes


Racing is fun again for Joe Orseno, especially with horses like Slam Bammy in his barn.

Fresh from two strong allowance wins, Slam Bammy steps up Saturday to run in the $60,000 Rutgers University Stakes, the closing-night feature at The Meadowlands Racetrack. The final 11-race card gets underway at 7:30 p.m.

Orseno has been in rebuilding mode since his split from Frank Stronach in 2002, but he said he feels the stable has finally turned the corner.

"This is the first year since then that I've had 2-year-olds that I picked out," Orseno said.

He had a solid season with juveniles at Monmouth, with a record of 5-1-3 from 14 starters, including a victory by Reaffirmed in the Continental Mile Stakes. Orseno soon will head to Palm Meadows in Florida to prepare the young horses for the upcoming campaign.

At 4, is one of the older runners in the barn. He struggled at Woodbine earlier in the year but came around on the return to New Jersey.

"We got him on our program, and he just got better and better," Orseno said.

The first of his consecutive allowance wins came at The Meadowlands at 5 1/2 furlongs, and Orseno attributed the success to finding the ideal distance for Slam Bammy. When Slam Bammy came right back at The Meadowlands to win easily at six furlongs, Orseno said he decided the time was right to try him in a stakes for the first time.

The Rutgers, at six furlongs, also attracted Joey P., who had an unhappy experience in the Grade 3 Sport Page Handicap on the Breeders' Cup undercard at Belmont Park.

A 3-year-old gelding, got "wound up in the security barn and wouldn't relax," according to trainer Frankie Costa. He finished seventh, his worst effort since running last in Monmouth's Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

On the positive side, Joey P. was an impressive winner at Monmouth of the Grade 3 Jersey Shore Breeders' Cup Stakes and the Friendly Lover Handicap.

Joey P. will race as an entry with Jay's Wish.

The well-traveled Two Down Automatic will be a major contender following his rallying victory in The Meadowlands's Eillo Stakes. A 4-year-old gelding, Two Down Automatic has run at eight different tracks this season in an extensive campaign through the Southwest and Midwest before coming east for trainer Steve Asmussen.

and Banjo Picker both come out of the Vincent A. Moscarelli Memorial Handicap at Delaware Park. Spooky Mulder, fifth in the Moscarelli, finished second in his previous New Jersey visit, the Icecapade Stakes at Monmouth in early September.

Banjo Picker closed well to get third in the Moscarelli.

* Closing night promotions include free admission and programs. There will also be drawings for $500 gasoline gift cards.

Joe Bravo is poised to win his 10th Big M riding title - his first since 2000 - to close out a remarkable New Jersey season. Bravo also won an 11th title at Monmouth Park despite missing almost seven weeks this summer with a broken collarbone.

Channing Hill will be the top apprentice rider.

Jason Servis is in position to claim his first training crown, although Tim Hills still has a chance.

Leading owner is a tight battle among Ocean View Stables, Edward P. Evans, and Joel A. Kligman.