02/14/2005 12:00AM

Galloping Grocer's cut only minor

Owners Bob Levin (left) and Larry Paltrowitz lead Sort It Out and jockey Tim Thornton to the winner's circle after the Whirlaway Stakes on Saturday.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Galloping Grocer lost a horse race on Saturday, and perhaps a few supporters, but did not lose much ground to the other leading Kentucky Derby candidates who ran over the weekend. More importantly, though, Galloping Grocer did not lose the opportunity to make amends quickly.

Trainer Dominick Schettino said Monday that Galloping Grocer suffered only superficial cuts to his left hind leg as a result of apparently being stepped on during the running of Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes, a race in which he finished fourth, beaten 1 3/4 lengths. Schettino further said that Galloping Grocer would not miss any training time and could make his next start in the Fountain of Youth on March 5 at Gulfstream Park.

"He's fine, it's superficial," Schettino said. "It looked a lot worse till we took off the bandages and cleaned it up. He's not going to miss any training. He's healthy, he's sound. He came out of it super, to be honest.''

It was unclear when Galloping Grocer was stepped on in the Whirlaway. Jockey Aaron Gryder felt it might have been around the half-mile pole. It is noteworthy that trainer Jennifer Pedersen said her horse, Daddy Joe, lost his left front shoe during the race. Daddy Joe was racing behind Galloping Grocer down the backside.

In his first start since finishing second in the Remsen last Nov. 27, Galloping Grocer dueled with Diamond Wildcat through six furlongs in 1:11.27, and though he had the lead in upper stretch, Galloping Grocer faded late behind Sort It Out, who won by a neck over Naughty New Yorker. The final time was 1:43.32 for 1 1/16 miles. Sort It Out earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 95.

While Schettino will stick to his plan to get Galloping Grocer to the May 7 Kentucky Derby, the connections of Sort It Out must now develop a plan to get there.

Sort It Out, owned by the Preferred Pals Stable, was not an early Triple Crown nominee, though the stable's managing partner, Larry Paltrowitz, said he would most likely pay the $6,000 late nomination fee by the March 26 deadline.

Trainer Allen Iwinski said he has received several offers for Sort It Out, a New York-bred son of Out of Place whose second dam, Abrade, is a full sister to the 1988 Kentucky Derby runner-up, Forty Niner. Iwinski said the ideal scenario would be to sell half of Sort It Out with Iwinski continuing as trainer.

"We have plenty of offers and even some strong partnerships," Iwinski said Monday from Florida. "We do not have one with me still training the horse."

Iwinski, who is suffering from hepatitis C, said he would postpone a planned leave of absence from training scheduled for the end of April to train a Kentucky Derby contender. He also said he would bow out gracefully if the right deal came along.

"It would be a big opportunity for me, but I certainly won't let my ego get in the way of business," Iwinski said.

Iwinski said that if he and his owners kept Sort It Out, he would like to run the horse in the second week of March and then come back in the April 9 Wood Memorial. The only race of note on March 12 is the Louisiana Derby, which is run at 1 1/16 miles at Fair Grounds. Iwinski said he would prefer the race were 1 1/8 miles.

"My feeling is being around the horse and watching him progress, he is going to be better the further he goes," Iwinski said.

Pat Kelly, the trainer of Whirlaway runner-up Naughty New Yorker, said he has also received calls asking if his colt was for sale. Kelly said owner Peter Schiff would prefer to keep him.

Kelly said he was unsure where and when Naughty New Yorker would run next. The Gotham, a one-turn mile run March 19, is a possibility, as is waiting for the Wood. Kelly is not keen on shipping out of town.

"It's February, the inner track's still open, we got a long way to go," Kelly said. "We're trying to keep him healthy and do our best under the circumstances."

Robert Bailes, trainer of Whirlaway third-place finisher Scrappy T, said he is pointing his horse to the Gotham.

Pedersen 'psyched' about Pavo

Though Daddy Joe finished seventh in the Whirlaway, it was far from a lost weekend for Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable. Saturday at Laurel Park, Amazing Buy won the Wide Country Stakes for 3-year-old fillies by a nose, while Mr. Sword, a 3-year-old colt, won an allowance race by 9 1/2 lengths.

On Sunday morning, Pavo worked four furlongs in 47.31 seconds over Aqueduct's inner track in preparation for next Saturday's $75,000 Fred "Cappy" Capossela Stakes at six furlongs.

"He's really set for this weekend," Pedersen said of Pavo. "I'm so psyched."

On Dec. 18, Pavo won the restricted City Zip Stakes at six furlongs. In his last start, he finished a well-beaten fourth in the Count Fleet Stakes going a mile and 70 yards.

A short field is expected for the Capossela. Distinctive Trick and Maddy's Lion are the only others considered definite. Benjamin Baby, Hottothetouch, Summerland, and Timely Impulse are possible.

Meanwhile, Pedersen and Paragallo will plot out a course for Amazing Buy and Mr. Sword. Amazing Buy, who nearly blew a four-length lead in the stretch of the Wide Country, could run next in the Busher at Aqueduct on Feb. 27.

Meanwhile, Mr. Sword earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 90 winning his second consecutive race. A son of Rizzi, Mr. Sword will likely be kept sprinting. He is nominated to this weekend's Capossela and he could be wheeled right back.