07/09/2003 11:00PM

Sunlit Ridge tops on turf


East Boston, Mass. - The switch by Rockingham Park to harness racing has given Suffolk Downs three extra months of racing in the summer, and as a result horses can take advantage of a longer turf racing season here. Saturday, Sunlit Ridge will try to do just that when she tries for her second straight turf win in the $35,000 Sunset Gun Stakes.

On paper, the Sunset Gun figures to be Sunlit Ridge's to lose. She has five wins from seven starts over the Suffolk grass, and none of her six statebred rivals have won over the turf course here.

Along with her brother Stylish Sultan, Sunlit Ridge has helped owner Manfred Roos corner the market on Massachusetts-bred stakes races over the past few years.

More good news for Roos and trainer John Rigattieri - Sunlit Ridge won for the first time this year in her initial race over the grass this season. It ended an eight-race losing streak spent entirely in stakes races since the start of the year. That losing streak allows her to carry just 121 pounds and get a three-pound break from highweight Big Miss because of the allowance conditions of the race.

Her rivals are not completely overmatched, however. Big Miss has won 16 times in a 70-race career and beat Sunlit Ridge in the Isadorable Stakes in February at six furlongs. With this race at 1 1/16 miles, Big Miss has plenty of time to take advantage of any speed duel. But, she's never won in five starts over this turf course.

Deerwood Lass, who will break from the rail under rider Romualdo Santos, comes off a fast-closing second to Brennan D at five furlongs. Three horses from that race, including Brennan D, have come back to win or run well this week.

Weepecket and Harleys Gold both have speed, and with the tight turns of the course making it hard on closers, either could be dangerous if able to gain a clear early lead.

Brown Id Girl and Repriced Fame complete the field.

As in every Massachusetts-bred stakes race, there is no place or show wagering.

Call Me Mr. Vain piling up wins

Call Me Mr. Vain won for the eighth time this year last Wednesday to take the lead in wins in North America. The 9-year-old horse finished second to Frisk Me Now in the Grade 2 Iselin Handicap at Monmouth in 1999.

The locally based Tejano Couture was among the national leaders last year with 11 wins.

Call Me Mr. Vain has improved over the course of the year, starting off his campaign in $4,000 claiming races and working his way up to the $8,000 group he beat most recently for trainer Carlos Figueroa.