02/14/2006 1:00AM

Fast, but they lack Derby breeding

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Two-time stakes winner Achilles of Troy lacks the breeding to succeed at the Derby distance.

LAS VEGAS - Speed is beguiling and racing fans love a fast horse. Dr. Fager and Ruffian were forces of nature and achieved superstar status because of their incredible speed. The great breeders of yesteryear, such as James Keene, E.R. Bradley, William Woodward,

E.P. Taylor, Lord Derby, H.H. Aga Khan, Marcel Boussac, and Federico Tesio all planned matings that incorporated speed and stamina for the classics.

Once upon a time, racing was truly the sport of kings. The wealthy breeders and owners raced against each purely as sport. To this end, they strived to improve the breed. But breeders of today are breeding strictly for speed with very little regard to stamina. After decades of this practice, horses by stallions that were never expected to succeed at 1 1/4 miles are winning the Kentucky Derby.

Among the horses on the Derby trail are Achilles of Troy, Da Stoops, Henny Hughes, Keyed Entry, R Loyal Man, Too Much Bling, and Your Tent or Mine. But it is unlikely any of them will be at their best at the Derby's 1 1/4-mile distance.

Achilles of Troy

Runaway winner of the Count Fleet and Whirlaway Stakes over Aqueduct's inner dirt track, Achilles of Troy has been impressive beating up suspect competition. While there is no doubt he has talent, he reminds me much more of Galloping Grocer than Smarty Jones. His late sire, Notebook, did sire middle-distance runners, but his forte was speed. In fact, Achilles of Troy's entire tail-male sire line (Notebook-Well Decorated-Raja Baba-Bold Ruler) is renowned for speed. Achilles of Troy not only has Notebook as his sire, but also speed influences Relaunch (In Reality), and Really Cooking (Hilarious) as his first two damsires.

Da Stoops

Winner of the Sunshine Millions Dash, Da Stoops is by Distorted Humor, whose son Funny Cide won the Kentucky Derby. While Funny Cide inherited a great deal of stamina from his female family (which happened to be the same female family as his rival, Empire Maker), Da Stoops has names like Habitony and Raise a Native up close in his pedigree, suggesting much more speed than stamina.

Henny Hughes

The most accomplished colt of this group is Henny Hughes. Winner of his first three starts at 2, including the Tremont and Saratoga Special, he ran second to First Samurai in the Hopeful and Champagne Stakes and second to Stevie Wonderboy, after trying to wire the field, in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile. By pure speed sire Hennessy, his first two damsires - Meadowlake and Hagley - are also strictly sources of speed, so there is little to suggest he will succeed at 1 1/4 miles.

Keyed Entry

Keyed Entry looked like Dr. Fager winning the Hutcheson Stakes over First Samurai, but that does not necessarily equate to success at the Derby distance. By top-class miler Honour and Glory (Relaunch), Keyed Entry has more going for him, however, than the other six colts listed here.

In addition to the speed he inherits from his sire, he does get stamina points from both his damsire, Cryptoclearance (sire of Belmont Stakes winner Victory Gallop and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Volponi), and his second damsire, Avatar (winner of the 1975 Belmont Stakes). Keyed Entry is also an RF (Rasmussen Factor), as he is inbred 4x5 to the superior broodmare Grand Splendor, a pedigree pattern that is usually an indicator of high class.

R Loyal Man

Winner of the recent Pasco Stakes at Tampa Bay Downs, R Loyal Man is another colt bred to be most effective up to 1 1/16 miles.

By speed influence More Than Ready (Southern Halo), he does inherit some stamina from his damsire, Wild Gale, who was third in both the 1993 Kentucky Derby and Belmont Stakes.

Too Much Bling

Winner of last weekend's San Vicente Stakes, Too Much Bling also finished third behind First Samurai and Henny Hughes in the Hopeful Stakes.

By sprint champion Rubiano, he also has two strong speed influences as his first two damsires - Formal Dinner (Well Decorated) and Green Forest (Shecky Greene).

Your Tent or Mine

Winner of the Hollywood Prevue Stakes, Your Tent or Mine gained national attention running second to Brother Derek in the Hollywood Futurity. But Your Tent or Mine has a pedigree that is top-heavy with speed. From the first crop of Forest Camp, a top-class 2-year-old who was best up to one mile, he is out of a mare by another source of speed, Prospector's Music.