01/22/2008 12:00AM

Iwinski gets back into action


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Allen Iwinski is easing back into the horse-training business, but it isn't by choice. Away from the game for nearly three years because of illness, Iwinski is back at Gulfstream Park this winter with eight horses. He could have more.

"I could fill this barn up with horses if I had the stall space," Iwinski said standing outside Barn 4. Gulfstream management, he said, "really cramped my style. They made it very difficult."

Iwinski, who could have had more stalls had he been willing to stable at the Palm Meadows training center, hasn't been to Gulfstream - or anywhere else for that matter - since 2005. The 55-year-old Iwinski suffered from hepatitis C, a viral disease that can lead to permanent, and in some cases fatal, liver damage and had to undergo treatment for a second time in the spring of 2005. Since returning to training late last year he has had three runners, including the touted Go Swiftly who finished fifth in a maiden race Monday.

Iwinski was found to have hepatitis C over a decade ago. He said Monday he feels pretty good.

"My liver's in pretty good shape," said Iwinski, who has 1,576 career victories. "The virus is gone, and I just hope it stays gone this time, because I can't deal with taking that treatment again."

Iwinski said a combination of the medications ribavirin and interferon really took a toll on him.

"The medication really made me sick," said Iwinski, who noted that a third medication made him dizzy. "It has a ton of side effects, most of them I could deal with - the flu-like symptoms, the nausea. The thing I really had a difficult time dealing with was the severe depression. It's really bad. Every time you close your eyes you have all these suicidal thoughts . . . I just hated it. I just hope it doesn't come back, because I never want to go on that treatment again."

Meanwhile, Iwinski hopes to stage a comeback of his own. He moved from the Northeast to Ocala, Fla., and bought a farm where he houses broodmares and weanlings. He has about 20 2-year-olds as well as a handful of older horses at J.J. Crupi's nearby farm, where he spent some time during his recuperative period.

Iwinski said he has maintained several of his previous clients, including Preferred Pals Stable and Wachtel Stable.

Iwinski, who won training titles at Philadelphia Park and Delaware Park, said he would prefer to have one division of horses and said he has 36 stalls at Belmont Park promised to him by the New York Racing Association's racing secretary, P.J. Campo.

Iwinski said he plans to do some claiming down in south Florida, but is hopeful that he can ultimately upgrade his stock.

"I will be doing some claiming early on," he said. "Once we have all the clientele involved in putting young horses together to get really good horses, then I'm going to start getting away from the claiming."

Mott plots course for 3-year-olds

Trainer Bill Mott has begun mapping out a program for his 3-year-olds that he hopes can get one or more to the Kentucky Derby.

Mott has what he feels are five potential Derby types, topped by graded stakes winners Court Vision, Majestic Warrior, and Z Humor.

Court Vision, who won the Grade 2 Remsen in November at Aqueduct, is being pointed to the Fountain of Youth here on Feb. 24. Court Vision worked three furlongs in 37.40 seconds on Jan. 17 at Payson Park and was scheduled to breeze again on Wednesday.

Majestic Warrior, who won the Grade 1 Hopeful last summer, was credited with his first workout since last fall on Saturday when he went three furlongs in 39.80 seconds at Payson Park. Mott said Majestic Warrior would be pointed to a race in March, though did not identify which one. The Grade 3 Tampa Bay Derby on March 15 is a possibility.

Majestic Warrior resumed training in early December after being given November off when it was discovered he had a hoof-wall separation.

"If things go smoothly, he should be ready to run in March, so anything in March is a possibility," Mott said. "We probably want to go a mile plus."

Z Humor, who dead-heated for win in the Delta Jackpot, is being pointed to the Sam Davis Stakes at Tampa Bay on Feb. 16. Mott had thought about the Risen Star at Fair Grounds on Feb. 9, but owner Ahmed Zayat has another horse for that race in Z Fortune.

Mott is also high on Alaazo, an A.P. Indy colt who won a two-turn maiden race at Monmouth Park last summer but has not run since, and Riley Tucker, who got beat a nose in the Arlington-Washington Futurity last fall. Both of those horses will be ready to run in February, Mott said.

Mushka unlikely for Kentucky Oaks

Mott said that Mushka, winner of the Demoiselle Stakes in November, has suffered a setback and likely won't be ready to run until the Belmont meet, meaning she would miss the Kentucky Oaks. Mott wouldn't be specific about the injury, but did confirm that Mushka has been taken out of training.

"She won't make anything down here," Mott said.

Zito's bandwagon getting crowded

At this rate, trainer Nick Zito may have to break out the white plastic fencing he had in Louisville in 2005 when he ran five horses in the Kentucky Derby.

On Monday, the Zito-trained Fierce Wind rolled to a 5 1/4-length first-level allowance win at Gulfstream. In going gate to wire to defeat Southern Terminus, Fierce Wind covered 1 1/8 miles in 1:52.29 and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89. He has now won both of his starts around two turns after losing his first two starts sprinting.

"He was one of our 2-year-olds that really trained nice at Saratoga; just the sprint races didn't fit him," Zito said. "Once we got to Calder and had the two-turn race, it worked out good. He's a nice colt, well-bred; he's got a future."

Zito said Fierce Wind could be a Florida Derby horse. Fierce Wind adds to the potent list of Zito 3-year-olds that includes newly crowned 2-year-old champion War Pass, Anak Nakal, Bordeaux Bandit, Aquarian, Web Gem, and Cool Coal Man.

* Grade 1 winner Benny the Bull, the likely favorite for Saturday's Sunshine Millions Sprint, worked five furlongs in 1:00 Tuesday morning at Palm Meadows. It was the fastest of 17 moves at the distance.