01/05/2007 12:00AM

Jazil second in comeback

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - It was hardly the happy homecoming his connections were hoping for. But Belmont Stakes winner Jazil's second-place finish in a second-level allowance race at Aqueduct on Friday was hardly a disaster, either.

Away from the races for nearly seven months, Jazil rallied from last to finish second, 2 1/4 lengths behind a loose-on-the-lead Take the Bluff in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race over Aqueduct's inner track. It was Jazil's first start since winning the Belmont Stakes on June 10. He is believed to be the first horse to win a classic and later run over Aqueduct's winterized inner track.

Settling into last in the six-horse field, Jazil launched a five-wide rally around the second turn under Fernando Jara and into the stretch but was no match for Take the Bluff, a horse who was 2 for 19 coming into this race. His last victory came on June 9, the day before Jazil won the Belmont.

Take the Bluff ($8.50) covered the 1 1/16 miles over a good inner track in 1:44.77.

McLaughlin called the loss "disappointing," but not totally unexpected.

"You want to win every time we lead him over there," McLaughlin said. "I thought his class would be able to overcome a few obstacles. He was five wide on this turn coming home and it's tough on these tight turns to make up that kind of ground, and he wants further. We got him back to the races, and we'll look for bigger and better things, and we have all year to go. We weren't cranking him up just to win a two-other-than; we were using it as stepping-stone."

Fernando Jara, Jazil's regular rider, said he was pleased with the colt's performance.

"I was very happy with his race," Jara said. "He hadn't run in seven months. He was pretty tired at the end, and that was good to see. Now that he has a race, he's going to get better."

McLaughlin had shipped Jazil and stablemate Invasor to New York from south Florida after several cases of equine herpesvirus were detected in several parts of that state. McLaughlin feared a possible statewide shipping ban if more herpes cases were detected, and he plans to send Invasor and/or Jazil to Dubai for the $6 million Dubai World Cup on March 31.

McLaughlin plans to run Invasor in the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 3, while Jazil will be pointed to the Grade 2, $350,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap on March 3. McLaughlin said if Invasor makes it to the Dubai World Cup, Jazil would most likely stay home.

McLaughlin said that if no further cases of equine herpesvirus are detected, then Jazil and Invasor will likely ship back to the Palm Meadows training center in Florida in about two weeks.

Achilles of Troy working toward comeback

Achilles of Troy, a multiple stakes winner over the inner track last year, picked up the pace in his bid to come back from injury as he worked four furlongs in 47.91 seconds Thursday at Aqueduct. It was the third-fastest breeze of 19 recorded at the distance. It was Achilles of Troy's third breeze since Dec. 17.

"He wasn't even exerting himself," said Ernie Paragallo, the authorized agent for his family-owned Paraneck Stable. "In his previous works, the riders were a little scared to let him go too quick too early, so he would go off slow and come home fast. He came home good again."

Paragallo said Achilles of Troy would not be ready until February. Achilles of Troy has not run since being vanned off the track in last year's Gotham. After attempting to train for the Wood Memorial, Achilles of Troy was found to have a soft-tissue injury to a foreleg.

Sports Town likely for Whirlaway

When the connections of Sports Town attempt to stretch out their promising 3-year-old colt, they will do it at Aqueduct in the $65,000 Whirlaway Stakes here on Feb. 10.

Tonja Terranova, the assistant trainer to her husband, John, said keeping the still-immature colt in familiar surroundings is a better situation for him than shipping to south Florida.

"He's just still a big baby - he's learning so much," Tonja Terranova said. "First time he ran, he put on a show in the paddock. Keeping him here will allow us to work on his development."

After finishing third in his debut, Sports Town has won two straight races, both at six furlongs. The Whirlaway, at 1 1/16 miles, will be his first start around two turns.

Abscess sidelines Ferocious Fires

Ferocious Fires, the undefeated New York-bred, was forced to scratch from a Dec. 29 allowance race here due to a foot abscess, trainer Tony Dutrow said.

Dutrow doesn't view the injury as anything major and is hoping to train the horse up to the Hollie Hughes Handicap on Feb. 18.

"It's not a big deal, but he's not perfect," Dutrow said.

Ferocious Fires, a son of Lite the Fuse, won all five of his starts in 2006, including the Mr. Leader Stakes.

* Jockey Alan Garcia won four races on Friday's card from five mounts. Garcia's wins came aboard Wakeup With Makeup ($3.90), It's a Monster ($12), My Aiken Cat ($8.10), and Sunset Cocktail ($16.40). His final mount, Self Made Man, finished third.