04/12/2002 11:00PM

Trying to keep it in family


EAST BOSTON, Mass. - African Princess will try to make Patriot's Day a family day when she attempts to stay undefeated in the $30,000 African Prince Stakes for Massachusetts-bred 3-year-old sprinters Monday at Suffolk Downs.

African Princess will have to take on males in the six-furlong contest, but she has looked impressive so far in her two previous races, including a 5 1/4-length victory in the Mystery Jet Stakes two weeks ago.

Owned by John Kirby and trained by his son Tim Kirby, African Princess is out of a dam, Africaner, who is a half-sister to the horse for whom the race is named. With African Princess's full sister, Dr. Desai, entered in the First Episode Stakes on Saturday, it was a busy weekend for the Kirbys and their homebreds.

Vernon Bush, who rode Dr. Desai and African Princess in his first two stakes races since making a comeback to the saddle earlier this year, will try for a similar double this holiday weekend.

Storm Lad figures to be a difficult rival for African Princess as he makes his fifth career start. He exits a runner-up effort in the Collegian Stakes against open company. Both of his losses came behind local champion Stylish Sultan, who was shipped to New York for the $150,000 Bay Shore Stakes on Saturday's Wood Memorial undercard. Storm Lad was an easy victor in his other two races when Stylish Sultan wasn't around.

Trainer Lori Lockhart, who races Storm Lad, a son of Storm of Angels, for her father, Lloyd, will fit him with blinkers for the first time.

Maximum Reward will be a likely pacesetter in the African Prince after showing speed in a third-placed effort with allowance company April 3. Jockey Joe Hampshire will take the return ride on the colt for trainer John Rodriguez.

Genuine Regard, who is still a maiden after three starts this year, was also entered by Rodriguez and will be part of an entry for the Broadwell Farm.

* Suffolk enacted a 2 percent purse increase effective with its latest condition book. Combined with a stakes boost enacted at the beginning of the year, average daily purses at Suffolk rose to $100,000 for the first time in several seasons.

* Apprentice Jockey Helena Keaveney will remain out of action indefinitely after returning to her native Ireland because of the death of her mother.