02/27/2003 12:00AM

Soes Bandit in good spot in Waquoit


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Soes Bandit has yet to win a stakes race, but his connections dreamed big when he was entered in the Mass Cap last year. Eight months, 11 races, and two Suffolk victories later, the 7-year-old Soes Bandit appears poised to finally get a stakes win to go with all the dreams in Saturday's $35,000 Waquoit Stakes at Suffolk Downs.

A son of Buckaroo, Soes Bandit has won two of his last three starts, including his last race, a top-level allowance over several who are coming back in this 1 1/16-mile contest.

Jini's Jet, a Massachusetts-bred, has had no problem racking up stakes victories, but he is searching for his first stakes victory outside of statebred competition. He will try to make amends for his third-place finish at 1-2 in the Ride Jim Stakes Feb. 1.

At the time, Jini's Jet's trainer, Karl Grusmark, was mired in a month-long losing streak. Grusmark broke through by winning at least one race on four consecutive days.

Top trainer Ron Dandy will send out Private Netizen after an 11-length claiming win last month - a performance that produced the highest recent Beyer Speed Figure among the Waquoit competitors.

Yaeger comes off a layoff for trainer Tom McCooey following a winning Suffolk debut on Jan 8. He has 12 wins in 28 starts.

The other Waquoit entrants are Paynes Bay, Milky Way Guy, Financial Diplomat, Storm Wreck, Mekena South, and Grey's Majesty.

Waquoit won the 1987 Mass Cap over Broad Brush, and is the last local winner of New England's top race.

Captain Red makes it in New York

Owner Anthony Pyliotis's horses are doing well in New York, notably Captain Red, who broke the six-furlong inner-track record at Aqueduct Wednesday. Captain Red, a 6-year-old son of Mr. Greeley, was timed in 1:07.93.

"He wasn't even 100 percent for the race," Pyliotis said. "If he had been, he would have gone 1:07 flat."

Among the horses he beat Wednesday were fellow New Englander Gold I.D. and Grade 1 winner Affirmed Success. "He was in there to make the race go for [stablemate] Esteemed Friend," Pyliotis said.

Both Captain Red and Esteemed Friend, whom Pyliotis claims he wanted to scratch because of not-so-good blood tests before the race, came out of the allowance well. Captain Red will get a week's rest before Pyliotis, and his trainer Dimitiros Synefias, plot a next race for him. The Toboggan at Aqueduct March 15 is possible, and the long-term goal is the Moseley Breeders' Cup Handicap at Suffolk June 14.

Possibility of VLT's is rising

Perhaps the best news this year for Suffolk Downs emerged when Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney's budget called for video lottery terminals at the state's racetracks in lieu of "blocking payments" from casinos in neighboring states.

If slot operators in Rhode Island and Connecticut refuse to take blocking payments, Romney's budget, which will try to close a $3 billion shortfall while adhering to a no-tax-hike campaign pledge, will put VLT's in existing gaming facilities in Massachusetts.

Since most casino operators have dismissed the idea of paying the blocking fees, the possibility of VLT's at the state's four tracks is suddenly strong, although the entire Romney budget faces scrutiny from the legislature.