11/21/2003 1:00AM

Success 3,000 miles from home


Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez live on the cattle and cutting-horse ranch they own in Cottonwood, Calif., 3,000 miles away from the two stakes-winning New York-breds they own.

Geography aside, the Rodriguezes are major players in New York's breeding and racing program with Bossanova and Roman Dancer.

Bossanova, an exceptionally fast sprinter who won the Mike Lee Stakes by 13 1/4 lengths in June at Belmont Park, is under consideration for Thursday's $100,000 Fall Highweight Handicap at Aqueduct. Roman Dancer, who won the Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes at Aqueduct last year as a 3-year-old, is nearing a return to the races after a layoff.

Bossanova and Roman Dancer are trained by Jim Bond, who has managed the racing careers of many New York-bred champions.

Bossanova and Roman Dancer began their racing careers in California with trainer Christopher Paasch. After Paasch relocated his operation to Kentucky earlier this year, the Rodriguezes decided to move the horses to Bond in New York and take advantage of the owners awards that are part of New York's breeding and racing program.

"There are very good incentives with the program," Lorraine Rodriguez said. "And we had an automatic interest in New York because Rod is a New York boy and grew up there and still has family there. We hope to go to the 2-year-old in training sales next year and pick up some more New York-breds."

Roman Dancer and Bossanova were both acquired at 2-year-old in training auctions. The Rodriguezes bought Roman Dancer, a son of Polish Numbers, for $150,000 at Fasig-Tipton's February sale in Florida in 2001. They purchased Bossanova, a son of Pine Bluff, for $220,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company February auction at Calder last year.

"Roman Dancer was just a standout on my list," Rodriguez said. "Bossanova was just a little speedball that had that look about him. Both horses have that neon look that we couldn't resist."

The Rodriguezes, who have been married six years and involved in Thoroughbred ownership for the past four years, have a fairly large operation. In addition to Roman Dancer and Bossanova, they own about 25 other horses, including horses of racing age, babies, and mares. With the exception of Bossanova and Roman Dancer, all their runners are based on the West Coast with Doug O'Neill in Southern California and Greg James in northern California.

One of their first acquisitions as owners was Collect Call, who became a graded stakes winner for the Rodriguezes and was third in the 2001 Kentucky Oaks. Collect Call is in foal to the 2000 Kentucky Derby winner, Fusaichi Pegasus, and is due to give birth in February.

Bossanova, who was bred by Kent and Katy Wiechert, was laid up after winning the Mike Lee because of surgery to remove ankle chips. The colt, who earned a 109 Beyer Speed Figure in the Mike Lee, returned to the races on Oct. 18 and finished fourth in the Hudson Handicap after setting scorching early fractions. In his last start on Nov. 8, Bossanova easily handled a statebred allowance field, winning the six-furlong race by 2 1/4 lengths. Bossanova seeks his first graded win in the Grade 3 Fall Highweight.

"He's a pretty amazing horse," Rodriguez said. "He's the type of horse that loves his job and we think he will keep getting better."

Roman Dancer, who was bred by Jerry Nielsen, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, and his wife, Joanne, is a multiple stakes winner. As a 2-year-old, the colt won the Sunny Slope Stakes at Santa Anita. Last year, in addition to his win in the Bay Shore, Roman Dancer won the San Pedro and was second in the Grade 3 San Miguel at Santa Anita.

Roman Dancer hasn't run since he came into Bond's barn late in the spring. He last ran in an allowance race at Churchill Downs in May and finished fifth. Rodriguez said the colt came out of the race with a scratch in one of his eyes and then had a few minor setbacks while preparing for his return to the races.

"He's always been my favorite," Rodriguez said. "He was just a phenomenal 2-year-old. He's had a few slight mishaps that have prolonged him getting back to the races. He's ready to roll now and is in tip-top shape."