01/29/2009 12:00AM

Barkley gets his big break


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Though he has trained horses since 1994, Jeff Barkley is about to get the most significant opportunity of his career.

With trainer Larry Jones in the process of cutting down his stable - and possibly retiring at year's end - Barkley is positioned to become an important part of Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm Stable. Barkley currently has 18 horses at Maryland's Fair Hill training center, though even Porter admits it's not the most talented group.

"He's working with some very mediocre stock at best," Porter said Thursday by phone from Florida. "He's still got to run the horses where they can win. If they're $20,000 claimers, he's got full rein to run them where they can win."

Porter turned to Barkley when Jones told him late last year that he would not accept any 2-year-olds in 2009. Barkley, 47, had trained a few horses previously for Porter, had worked three years as an assistant to Jones, and employs a similar training system.

"Larry convinced me he's a good horseman, he can get a good horse and take him where he ought to go," Porter said. "Hopefully, it'll work out."

Blowing Kisses, who runs in Saturday's $65,000 Correction Stakes at Aqueduct, may be the best horse Barkley currently trains for Porter. Blowing Kisses won an allowance race at Philadelphia Park in December and finished a troubled third in the Interborough here on New Year's Day.

"The first time I ran her, she ran a nice race and won," said Barkley, who has 76 career victories, training mostly on the Kentucky and Prairie Meadows circuit. "She's capable; she's right there every time."

The true test for Barkley is likely to come later in the year when he gets a group of young horses Porter bought at auction last year. Porter has enjoyed tremendous success the last few years with the likes of Rockport Harbor, Hard Spun, Eight Belles, and current top-rated 3-year-olds Old Fashioned and Friesan Fire. Barkley hopes there are a few like that among a group of nine yearlings Porter bought last fall at Keeneland.

"They have the breeding, they sure look the part at this point," Barkley said. "So far, [Porter] has had pretty good success."

Trombetta's 3-year-olds shine

Mike Trombetta was scheduled to catch a 5 p.m. flight to Florida from Maryland on Thursday. He had plenty to think about on the trip.

In the span of a week, Trombetta unleashed a pair of good-looking 3-year-old maiden winners at Philadelphia Park. On Jan. 20, Perfect Song, a son of Pleasantly Perfect, won by 6 1/4 lengths. He ran six furlongs in 1:09.18 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89. On Tuesday, Trombetta won a six-furlong maiden race with Casa d'Oro, a son of Medaglia d'Oro, who ran six furlongs in 1:10.78 and earned a 74 Beyer.

Of Perfect Song, Trombetta said: "He showed me a little more speed than I thought he would have. Everybody's very excited about him."

Trombetta said he "really liked the manner" in which Casa d'Oro won. "He runs very professional for his first start, ran a credible time, and earned a decent number."

Though both horses have the breeding to run longer, Trombetta said he started them sprinting because, well, that's what he always does.

"Unless a horse shows no speed, I don't usually start them off any further than six or 6 1/2," Trombetta said.

Trombetta said his project this weekend is to plot out a course of action for both horses.

Meanwhile, Trombetta said Peace Town, winner of the Maryland Juvenile Championship at Laurel Park in his first start around two turns, will run in the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes here Feb. 7, provided he works well this weekend.

Trombetta said he wasn't planning on running Peace Town in the Maryland Juvenile Championship, but a suspected case of equine herpesvirus in Maryland in December prevented him from shipping the horse out of town.

"I had to forgo what plans I was making at the time," he said. "That race was staring us in the face. He hadn't run since October, and I thought it might be asking for just a bit much, but he handled it real well."

Others being considered for the Whirlaway are Haynesfield, Tranquil Manner, and Mike From Queens.

* Jockey Richard Migliore has re-hired Drew Mollica as his agent, replacing Jose Amy. Migliore and Mollica had a largely successful four-year run that ended in September 2005.

Migliore is in a three-way tie for ninth at the inner-track meet, with 11 wins from just 67 mounts.