12/05/2002 1:00AM

Top statebreds go head to head

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EAST BOSTON, Mass. - The two best 2-year-old Massachusetts-breds will finally meet when Mr. Meso faces the filly Jill's Layup in Saturday's $30,000 Norman Hall Stakes at Suffolk Downs.

The accomplishments of Mr. Meso and Jill's Layup indicates significant progress for the Massachusetts breeding program as both won major juvenile stakes races here against open company. Mr. Meso won the DeSpirito Stakes against colts. Jill's Layup won the Mom's Command Stakes against fillies.

There are five others in the Hall. The competition is a far cry from Jill's Layup's last race, when her Amelia Peabody Stakes win led to an $80,000 minus pool and a win wagering-only policy for all Massachusetts-bred races for the rest of the season.

Mr. Meso will be the likely favorite considering his main challengers are female. He won his maiden at Rockingham in September, then bounced back from a fourth-place finish in an allowance in his first race here to win the DeSpirito for trainer Lori Lockhart.

"I always liked this horse ever since we first got him," said Lockhart. "He's just always been fast. I was confident going into the open stakes, but his problem is he keeps running into bad luck. I'm probably more worried going into this race with Jill's Layup in there."

Jill's Layup has lost just once, finishing second to the region's best 2-year-old filly, Sweet Samantha, in the Concord Stakes at Rockingham. Her 84-year-old trainer, Edward Stone, called her chances in the Amelia Peabody as close to a sure thing he has ever had in his career. She got the job done, but got a stern test from Glory Be Good.

Glory Be Good will be making just her second career start. She is trained by Michele Nydam, who owns her with Robert Pergakis. She had seven-furlong workout last week, and her work pattern looks very similar to that of her debut, where she lost to Jill's Layup by just 1 1/4 lengths.

Happy Scamper, Dustins Mozart, For Love of Matt, and Lilly Be Nice round out the field.

Hampshire's streak ends

Joe Hampshire's streak of consecutive days with at least one victory ended Tuesday when he went 0 for 5, but he has no reason to lament considering his wife, Kim, gave birth to their son, Josiah IV, on Thanksgiving Day.

During the 24-day run, Hampshire won 38 races, with 10 multiple-win afternoons. He won four races on Monday's card. Six times he needed to win the final race of the day to keep the streak alive. He's a lock to win his sixth consecutive Suffolk riding title and is threatening the 300-win mark for the year with 11 programs remaining.

* Suffolk will race Dec. 30 to make up for the snowed-out program that had been scheduled for Nov. 27. First post will be 12:45 p.m. Eastern. The track was planning on remaining dark for live racing from Dec. 24 through the opening of the 2003 meeting on New Year's Day.