07/14/2011 12:03PM

Suffolk Downs: Mr. Meso still dangerous at age 11 in Rise Jim


Suffolk Downs cards the first stakes this year for Massachusetts-breds on Saturday with the $50,000 Rise Jim, and typical of the statebred program, the competitors run the gamut in age from as young as 3 to the11-year-old returning champion Mr. Meso.

A winner of 24 of 64 starts for a handful of different connections, Mr. Meso is out to improve on a fifth-place effort in his 2011 debut. He was 3 for 3 last year, including two statebred stakes.

Trained by Matthew Clarke for the New England Stallion Station, Mr. Meso has done exceedingly well despite racing most of his career in the shadow of the now-retired, record-setting mare Ask Queenie. If his current connections want advice on how to keep the “old man” rolling now that she’s off the stage, they could find help in the paddock before Saturday’s six-furlong contest, where Billy Sienkewicz will be saddling Disco Fox.

At age 7, Disco Fox is a relative rookie compared with the first horse Sienkewicz trained in 1978, when he brought Golden Arrow out of retirement at age 17 to win five races.

“I always say that if I ever win the Kentucky Derby, that horse would be the second-best horse I ever trained,” said Sienkewicz, who has never trained a stakes winner. “Golden Arrow was the first horse I ever saddled at the track and he was the smartest horse I was ever around. He taught me more about training than I ever did for him.”

Sienkewicz said there isn’t a secret to training equine senior citizens.

“You’ve just got to keep them healthy and happy,” he said. “With Golden Arrow, he was just so smart and loved to do what he did. He came to us to retire, but he was much happier training, so we prepared him on our farm and he did the rest.”

Disco Fox came to Sienkewicz this spring from owner Anthony Spadea after success at Presque Isle Downs and Finger Lakes with trainer Karl Grusmark.

“I didn’t even know that Disco Fox was that old,” he said. “He came to me in very good order and was training more like a 5-year-old. He’s training very well and I expect him to run well.”

Led by Mr. Meso, nine of the 12 runners in last year’s Rise Jim are back for 2011, many making their first or second starts of the year. Of that group, Sundance Richie, seventh last year, has the best form with a second-place finish in an open $10,000 claimer July 6. Gorgeous Silk was fifth last year, but by the end of the Suffolk meet, produced Beyer Speed Figures that would make him tough. He has two bullet workouts in his last three drills in preparation for his 2011 debut.

Lord Kyle’s Quest is a newcomer this season. He arrived from Kentucky this spring and promptly won his maiden after 25 failures elsewhere. He has since finished fourth in a second-level allowance.

◗ Beijing House won a battle of former New England champions in an allowance race July 6. The 2007 champion 2-year-old bested last year’s top 3-year-old, Lovethatdirtywater, by 5 1/2 lengths, with former champion older horse Southern Rainbow finishing third.

◗ Tammi Piermarini remains on pace to hit the 2,000-win milestone later this season while leading the standings with 36 wins. Jockey Jorge Vargas is five wins from 3,000 victories, but the four-time leading jockey at Suffolk in the 1980s and 90s is 0 for 10 this season.