11/04/2004 12:00AM

Top local female riders in contest


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - Sports fans around New England have had good reason to root for their favorites on the road lately. And there's an opportunity to place a few legal wagers on more locals come Saturday night, when riders Tammi Piermarini and Jill Jellison head to Hoosier Park for the fourth annual Female Jockey Challenge.

The two are perennial leaders among jockeys on a circuit famous for giving female riders more opportunity than at other tracks. Piermarini is currently fourth in the Suffolk Downs standings and has won nine races over the past four programs. Jellison needs only eight more wins to move into third on the list of all-time victories by a female jockey, behind only Julie Krone and Patti Cooksey.

Piermarini and Jellison, both New Englanders, have longer r?sum?s than the 10 fellow jockeys they will compete with in the six-race series, and both have also taken part before in these contests, in which talent helps, but fast horses help more.

"I'm just hoping for a live mount," said Piermarini, who won races at Gulfstream Park this past winter. "I've been in these before, thinking I'm going to do well, and they couldn't find me. It's all about getting some live horses."

Piermarini has been scouting the competition. She says the only other competitor she's met before is Liz Morris, who made a short trip to Gulfstream last season.

Jellison once traveled to Japan to ride with a group of female jockeys in a series of races. She and Piermarini have ridden graded stakes winners and have won races at most of the major Eastern tracks, including Saratoga and Belmont. Jellison was off her mounts Wednesday at Suffolk to ride at The Meadowlands.

Considering how hot Piermarini has been over the past week, it was a tough decision to make her first trip to Indiana.

"It hurts to give up some horses around here with the way things have been going," said Piermarini. "But they're making it fun. We had a choice of a free pedicure, manicure, facial, hydrotherapy, or massage. We both chose the pedicure. We figured this is night racing and they might be trying to trick us with the massage. We might end up too relaxed and fall asleep out there."

Tap Into Fame vs. Ask Queenie again

Stakes racing returns to Suffolk Saturday with 3-year-old Massachusetts-breds fillies running a mile and 70 yards in the Louise Kimball Stakes.

The race shapes up well for Ask Queenie, who won at Aqueduct at the end of last year but has been second or third in all six races in 2004, many in tougher competition than she'll find in this restricted event.

Tap Into Fame and leading jockey Joe Hampshire should pose a strong challenge. Tap Into Fame won her maiden by 10 lengths two starts ago. This will be her first race around two turns. She finished third behind Ask Queenie in a 2-year-old stakes last year.

Cindarullah is trying to bounce back from some poor form that sent her to the sidelines in September. She placed in two statebred stakes early in the season, but tailed off through the summer.

* With 13 racing days left in the meet, jockey Winston Thompson has made the chase for the riding title competitive, storming to within six victories of Hampshire's lead.

Thompson has won 14 races since Oct. 23, with two triples and a four-win day last week.