02/03/2010 12:00AM

Contessa wouldn't mind Whirlaway delay

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Adam Cognialese
Eightyfiveinafifty runs away by 17 1/4 lengths in his most recent start.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - There are rumblings of a winter storm headed to the New York area for the start of the weekend, which could put Saturday's $100,000 Whirlaway Stakes for 3-year-olds in jeopardy of being rescheduled. If Saturday's card were to be canceled, the Whirlaway would move to Feb. 13, according to the New York Racing Association's racing secretary, P.J. Campo.

Trainer Gary Contessa said a one-week postponement wouldn't be so terrible for his speedy 3-year-old Eightyfiveinafifty, who is scheduled to make his first start around two turns in the 1 1/16-mile Whirlaway.

"That would be great," Contessa said Wednesday morning outside his barn. "Every week he gets smarter, every week he gets better." A postponement, said Contessa, "would give me another opportunity to work him long again, which I would really like to do."

"I'm ready to run and I'm ready to [train] another week if I have to," Contessa added. "It's not going to kill me either way."

Eightyfiveinafifty drew post 2 in a field of six entered for the Whirlaway, which will be run as the third race on the nine-race card. Eightyfiveinafifty, who will be ridden by Jorge Chavez, will be favored in the Whirlaway after winning a six-furlong maiden race by 17 1/4 lengths here on Jan. 9. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 105 for the effort, the highest number assigned a 3-year-old this year.

On Wednesday, Eightyfiveinafifty blew out three furlongs over Aqueduct's inner track in 34.21 seconds, galloping out a half-mile in 47.28.

"Effortless," Contessa said of the work.

In the Whirlaway, Peppi Knows will be making his first start since his runner-up finish in the Remsen. He was entered in the Count Fleet Stakes here on Jan. 3, but had to scratch when his trainer, Tim Kreiser, could not obtain workers' compensation insurance in a timely manner. He said Thursday that should all be taken care of by Saturday.

As for Peppi Knows, Kreiser said he is changing equipment and riders for the Whirlaway. Since Peppi Knows has a tendency to lug in, Kreiser will use a different kind of bit, known as a Haughton bit, which allows the rider more control.

"Riders like it, it gives them a little leverage," Kreiser said.

Speaking of riders, Peppi Knows will be ridden by Richard Migliore, who replaces Luis Belmonte, aboard for all three of the gelding's victories. Kreiser said owner Philip Messina wanted someone more familiar with Aqueduct's inner track.

Migliore, who suffered a concussion two weeks ago, is scheduled to return to the saddle on Friday when he rides What a Pear in the $60,000 Personal Girl Stakes.

Dominguez hunts new 3-year-old

Ramon Dominguez is on the search for a new 3-year-old after Winslow Homer suffered a stress fracture that will knock him out of the Kentucky Derby. Dominguez guided Winslow Homer to a good-looking victory in the Holy Bull Stakes two weeks ago at Gulfstream Park.

"It's certainly disappointing," Dominguez said. "He was my big 3-year-old. I was really excited after his last race, especially because he showed a different dimension. But it's part of the business. Sometimes something positive comes out of something negative and hopefully he'll come back bigger and stronger. Hopefully he'll have a lot of big races ahead of him."

Dominguez's quest to find a new 3-year-old will take him to Gulfstream Park on Saturday where he will ride Overcommunication in a one-mile allowance race. Overcommunication, a son of Unbridled's Song trained by Todd Pletcher and owned by Mike Repole, won a six-furlong maiden race by five lengths over Aqueduct's inner track on Dec. 26.

This is the third straight year that Dominguez lost a 3-year-old owned by Rick Porter's Fox Hill Farm. Last year, Dominguez lost the mount on Old Fashioned after giving the horse an indecisive ride in the Rebel Stakes. Old Fashioned eventually got hurt after running second in the Arkansas Derby and didn't make the Kentucky Derby.

Two years ago, Dominguez was the regular rider of the filly Eight Belles, and was named on her for the Kentucky Oaks. But her connections opted to run her in the Derby, where she finished second, but suffered fatal injuries galloping out. In the 2008 Derby, Dominguez rode Monba, the Blue Grass winner, who finished last.

Rodriguez makes a change

Jockey Rudy Rodriguez has given up riding horses to become a trainer.

Rodriguez, 37, won 221 races from 3,900 mounts in his riding career, which began in 1992. His biggest victory came in 2008, when he guided Frost Giant to an upset victory in the Grade 1 Suburban Handicap at Belmont. Rodriguez had just one winner from 25 mounts here this winter.

"I got to change," Rodriguez said. "I'm riding a lot of bad horses. I got three kids at home, I want to try to do the best I can for them. Hopefully, it pays off."

Rodriguez said he has three horses in his barn for owners Michael Dubb and Chip Acierno.

Besides riding in the afternoon, Rodriguez has been a main exercise rider for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr.

"He's not too happy, but he'll be okay," Rodriguez said. "I hope he can give me a hand. All the Dutrows have been very good to me."

* Jockey Jackie Davis was fined $500 by the stewards for inappropriate use of the whip in the seventh race at Aqueduct on Sunday. In that race, she struck her mount, Incredible Speed, in the face with the whip as she was lugging in down the backside.