02/09/2005 1:00AM

Iwinski has one who likes it longer


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Allen Iwinski will take his previously announced leave of absence from training horses at the end of April. That is, of course, unless he has good reason to stick around for another five weeks.

That reason would be if Iwinski had a 3-year-old that could take him through the Triple Crown races.

While it remains to be seen if Sort It Out is Kentucky Derby material - he wasn't even nominated to the Triple Crown series - he could be one of the more intriguing players in Saturday's $75,000 Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct. The Whirlaway, run at 1 1/16 miles, is expected to draw a 10-horse field, including the highly regarded Galloping Grocer.

Sort It Out, a New York-bred son of Out of Place, has won over the inner track in his last two starts, including a 6 1/2-length score against open company on Jan. 26. Two races back, Sort It Out ran down a loose on the lead Storm Thief.

Iwinski credits Sort It Out's success to running in route races. At 1 1/16 miles, Sort It Out has three victories and a second-place finish. Under a mile, he is 0 for 4.

"We knew all along this horse was going to improve around two turns," Iwinski said Wednesday from Florida. "The further he went the stronger he got."

When Sort It Out beat open company, he was running back on just 17 days' rest. The Whirlaway will make the fifth time Sort It Out has run on less than three weeks' rest.

"He's run closer together than I normally run horses," Iwinski said. "They usually tend to lose weight, and at one point they need more time. This horse has been putting weight on. He's been moving forward mentally, physically, and his performance on the racetrack has indicated a horse that is moving forward."

Iwinski announced last summer that he would need to take at least one year off from training to undergo treatment for hepatitis C, a viral disease that can lead to permanent and, in some cases, fatal liver damage. Iwinski said that at the end of April horses under his care would be transferred to other trainers, including some of his assistants such as Brad Wallace, who runs Iwinski's Aqueduct operation.

"The owners are well aware of what's going on," Iwinski said. "When it gets a little closer, everybody is going to decide whether they're going to stay with my assistants or not."

Middle Earth arrives for Whirlaway

Middle Earth, a European-based 3-year-old maiden running in the Whirlaway, was released from quarantine Tuesday afternoon and took up residence in Nick Zito's Belmont Park barn. He galloped a mile over the training track on Wednesday.

Middle Earth's connections were pleased with how the horse shipped from England, and planned on giving him a workout on Thursday. A wintry mix of rain and snow was forecast for Wednesday night, however, putting that move in jeopardy.

"We'd work him over seven furlongs, quickening up the last few furlongs," said Chris Bonner, assistant to trainer Andrew Balding and who also serves as Middle Earth's exercise rider. "We do need to get a good blow into him."

Shaun Bridgmohan has been booked to ride Middle Earth, who will remain in the United States after this race and be transferred to Nick Zito.

Espinoza hospitalization precautionary

Jockey Jose Espinoza was kept overnight in Jamaica Hospital for observation after he was briefly knocked unconscious as a result of a spill in Wednesday's first race.

Espinoza was aboard His Majesty Boots, who clipped heels with another horse less than a sixteenth of a mile out of the gate. Espinoza was unseated and hit the ground hard. He was removed from the track on a stretcher and taken to the hospital.

X-rays and a CAT scan were negative.

Frank Sanabria, Espinoza's agent, said he hoped that Espinoza would be able to ride by Saturday. Espinoza was listed to ride four horses on Thursday and one on Friday.

Since the stewards could not determine whether His Majesty Boots clipped heels with Little Primo or Fifteen Wall, they took no action against any horse.

Dasl Cammy tops Friday feature

Dasl Cammy has improved with each of her three starts under trainer Scott Lake. Further improvement would likely result in a second straight victory in Friday's $45,000 New York-bred second-level allowance feature.

Dasl Cammy romped to an 8 1/2-length victory in an entry-level allowance race on Jan. 29, just two weeks after finishing second behind repeat winner Previous Selection. Dasl Cammy looks like she could do it from on or off the pace under Richard Migliore. The only negative is that Dasl Cammy must carry top weight of 123 pounds

Gary Contessa sends out the coupled entry of Angel in Harlem and Wild Cee. They finished second and seventh as the 7-10 favorites in a similar spot on Jan. 28.

Too Many Bubbles, who stumbled when third in her last start, is another threat.