11/29/2001 1:00AM

Sunlit Ridge shaky proposition on dirt


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Now that long-term racing legislation has been enacted in this state, the Massachusetts Thoroughbred Breeders' Association has finalized its fall stakes program, which begins with Saturday's $25,000 Louise Kimball Distaff Championship at Suffolk Downs.

The Kimball honors the long-time driving force behind the MTBA, and it is the first of five stakes limited to Mass-breds that will be presented through the close of the meeting Dec. 22. Seven fillies and mares will run in the 1 1/16-mile Kimball on the main track.

Sunlit Ridge on Saturday returns to the state-restricted ranks for the first time since she beat males in the Beacon Hill Stakes in May. Sunlit Ridge this year earned three New England championship titles, including top 3-year-old filly and turf filly or mare for her owner-breeder, Manfred Roos.

Trained by John Rigattieri, Sunlit Ridge has won 6 of 13 races and $92,550 this year, but she comes into the Kimball looking to rebound after losing her last two races, the longest stretch she has gone without winning since May.

Six of her eight career wins have come on the turf, which means Sunlit Ridge will not be running on her favorite surface in the Kimball.

Sunlit Ridge began this meeting with a come-from-behind turf win over open company in the Highland Happening, but has failed against allowance company in her last two, finishing second to Halic at six furlongs and most recently fifth to Winloc's Pilgrim at a mile and 70 yards.

She gets in at 121 pounds and will be ridden by Dyn Panell.

Big Miss, the 124-pound topweight, comes into the Kimball off two straight wins in allowance routes here. In spite of her strong record this year, which includes four wins and 10 seconds or thirds, many of which came in stakes, she has earn black type a stakes this year.

The 5-year-old Big Miss was third behind Sunlit Ridge in the Highland Happening, but her speed and fondness for Suffolk's main track give her the edge in the Kimball. Edwin Molinari has the mount.

Dr. Desai, a former leading Mass-bred, has been lightly raced this year. She is unplaced in the two starts she has made this meet since returning from a 10-month layoff. Although all five of her career wins have come locally, all were in sprints.