01/11/2010 12:00AM

Contessa has big plans for Eightyfiveinafifty

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Indian Burn wins the Ruthless on Sunday - the first stakes win for Cross Sabres Farm.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Can a legitimate Kentucky Derby candidate emerge from the frozen tundra that is Aqueduct in the winter? Trainer Gary Contessa hopes so.

Eightyfiveinafifty, who won a six-furlong maiden race over the inner track Saturday by 17 1/4 lengths while earning a 105 Beyer Speed Figure, will try to make it to Louisville via Queens. Eightyfiveinafifty will make his next start Feb. 6 here in the $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes - a two-turn race at 1 1/16 miles - followed by the Grade 3, $250,000 Gotham on March 6, and, if worthy, the Grade 1, $750,000 Wood Memorial over Aqueduct's main track on April 3.

"The Whirlaway I think will be a very easy race for him," Contessa said Monday by phone from his home in upstate New York. "Then we have our chance in the Gotham to get plenty of graded money to get in the Derby."

Contessa said last week that he took stalls at Gulfstream Park this winter with Eightyfiveinafifty in mind. But Eightyfiveinafifty, who last Aug. 1 finished third in his debut to eventual Hopeful winner Dublin, injured a hock in the fall and Contessa did not ship the horse south as originally planned. Contessa believes it takes a horse about a month to acclimate to Florida and he said now the horse just doesn't have that time. Contessa could have pointed Eightyfiveinafifty to the seven-furlong Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream on Feb. 20 followed by the Florida Derby on March 20.

"I think he could win the Hutcheson no question, but then his first chance going two turns is going to be against killers in the Florida Derby," Contessa said. "He seems to like Aqueduct, he doesn't mind the cold. I'm going to stay in New York and take this route and see what comes."

Eightyfiveinafifty, a son of Forest Camp - who never won beyond six furlongs - was visually impressive Saturday, making the lead soon after the start under Jorge Chavez, turning back some mild pace pressure from the heavily bet Avenging Spirit, then opening up around the turn and into the stretch. Eightyfiveinafifty ran six furlongs in 1:10.85 with Chavez taking him in hand and looking back for the competition the way he used to when he rode Beautiful Pleasure a decade ago.

"It's rare to have a horse this good in your barn and when you're the only one that knows how good he is and you keep telling people," Contessa said. "We've all had horses that we thought were great horses and were suddenly very average. I didn't want that to be the case. I'm glad I'm right."

Ordinarily, Contessa would sell a horse like Eightyfiveinafifty. Throughout his career he has sold young horses, most notably Peace Rules, who finished third in the 2003 Kentucky Derby and who won three Grade 1 stakes and more than $3 million for Edmund Gann and Bobby Frankel. Contessa owns Eightyfiveinafifty with his wife, Jennifer, and several partners who have told Contessa they want to keep the horse.

"I want to keep him," Contess said. "I never trained a horse of this magnitude. For all the horses I sold - big-ticket horses Peace Rules, National Pride, Citrus Kid - none of them are in the same class or category as this horse from a training standpoint.

"I have Derby fever off what I saw the other day, absolutely. Interestingly enough I have a group of owners who would like to go for the ride."

Contessa said he has already had significant offers for the horse, but believes it will take another effort akin to Saturday's before he and his partners would get an offer they couldn't refuse.

"He's by Forest Camp - I don't think anybody in the world would give me $2 million off his maiden win," Contessa said. "He'll have to do it again. I have no doubt in my mind he'll go two turns. I think he could very well be the big horse."

Owner gets first stakes win

Carolyn Vogel's Cross Sabres Farm earned its first stakes victory Sunday when Indian Burn rallied from last under Richard Migliore to win the $65,000 Ruthless Stakes by 1 1/4 lengths over Argent Affair.

According to Wes Carter, racing manager for Vogel, Indian Burn is part of the first crop of seven yearlings purchased by Vogel in 2008.

"This is a fairly new operation; she's very enthusiastic about it," Carter said Monday from South Carolina. "It's kind of growing on her a little bit."

Indian Burn is one of two horses Vogel has with trainer John Hertler. Vogel also has horses with Seth Benzel in New York and Ken McPeek in Florida. Indian Burn, a daughter of Indian Charlie, sold for $125,000 at the Keeneland September yearling sale.

"I think she's got the potential to be a tremendous broodmare down the road," Carter said. "She's a leggy kind of horse, vetted very good, got a good throat. Just the type of horse that we liked - one that's bred to go long."

Indian Burn, who broke slowly, ran six furlongs in 1:14.05 in the Ruthless. It is unclear whether Indian Burn will run back in the Dearly Precious Stakes at six furlongs on Feb. 14 or attempt to stretch out to 1 1/16 miles in the Busher Stakes on Feb. 13.

"I think her best is going to be a mile and a sixteenth, but I'll leave that up to John," Carter said.

Hertler, who said that Indian Burn missed some time following her Oct. 23 maiden win due to a temperature, came out of the race in good order.

Cohen escapes injury

Jockey David Cohen is expected to resume riding Wednesday at Aqueduct after taking off his final four mounts Sunday following a spill.

Cohen was aboard A Saint Among Us, who took a bad step and fell while galloping out after finishing third in Sunday's second race. Cohen rode the third race, then took off the rest of the day due to general soreness.

Cohen, riding his first full meet on this circuit, has 24 wins, good enough for second-place in the jockey standings. Ramon Dominguez, who rode 13 winners on four cards last week - he rode Saturday at Gulfstream - sits atop the standings with 30 victories.