09/19/2002 11:00PM

Sweet Samantha in Concord - but bigger date awaits

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SALEM, N.H. - If you use a $25,000 stakes as a workout leading to bigger things, you better have a pretty nice horse. Color trainer Herman Kinchen confident as he sends Sweet Samantha as the favorite in Sunday's Concord Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at Rockingham Park.

Sweet Samantha, who is owned by Tolland Farm, has raced only once and will take on a full field in Sunday's six-furlong stakes. But because her debut was a resounding victory at Saratoga, Kinchen is already looking down the road.

"To be honest, I was going to just work her this weekend and run back next Sunday in New York," said Kinchen. "Then I saw this race and figured I could give her a little more experience, and I'll probably still send her down there next week."

The Sept. 29 race Kinchen is pointing for is the Joseph A. Gimma Stakes for New York-breds at Belmont Park.

Sweet Samantha's first trip to New York was impressive. She debuted with New York-breds and romped by 22 1/2 lengths, covering the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:19.98 - good for a 74 Beyer Speed Figure.

With a smattering of maidens or recent maiden winners lined up against her, a loss at the Rock would be a surprise. And while a defeat could conceivably hurt her value, Kinchen is not in the least bit worried.

"I bought her at Ocala in April, and I went there looking for a New York-bred," said Kinchen. "The bidding came down to me and another guy I know. He ended up getting her, but wanted another horse later in the sale. I ended up buying this filly off him. He got the filly he wanted; we all made a few dollars. Now he came back to me and offered $125,000 for her - and he was too low."

Suffolk to honor McCarron

Jockey Chris McCarron didn't throw a going-away tour after his retirement announcement earlier this year, but Suffolk Downs will hold a party for the Boston-born jockey when the track opens the fall meeting Sept. 28.

McCarron, who has been the guest of honor on two past occasions at Rockingham, where he won two Mass Caps and which is a short trolley-ride from his native Dorchester, Mass., will autograph commemorative posters for fans and award a trophy for the day's featured race, the Highland Happening Stakes.