02/15/2002 1:00AM

Kashatreya flatters Cohn

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Kashatreya, a veteran sprinter on the New York circuit, shoots to win the $75,000-added Hollie Hughes Handicap for the third time Sunday at Aqueduct.

Kashatreya, an 8-year-old, won the Hollie Hughes in 1999 and 2000. A gelding who races for his 90-year-old breeder, Seymour Cohn, Kashatreya nearly pulled off a Hollie Hughes triple last year by finishing second behind multiple stakes winner Say Florida Sandy.

Kashatreya, who is trained by John Hertler, has been a reliable sprinter for his connections since first arriving on the scene as a

2-year-old during the summer of 1996. Before his juvenile season had ended, Kashatreya stamped himself as a stakes horse with his win in the restricted Sleepy Hollow, at a whopping 133-1. He also finished second in the Damon Runyon as the favorite.

Kashatreya, a son of Daring Groom, spent most of his 3-year-old season sidelined with EPM, a virus that attacks the central nervous system. Successfully treated for the virus, he made only two starts in 1997, winning once in an allowance race.

In addition to his restricted stakes scores, Kashatreya has also been competitive in open stakes, winning the Grade 2 True North in 1999 over that year's sprint champion, Artax.

Cohn's gelding also used his patented late closing kick to win the Grade 2 Fall Highweight in 2000.

Hertler, who has trained horses for Cohn for the last 10 years, said it's a pleasure having a horse like Kashatreya in the barn.

"He always tries and gives a good effort," Hertler said, "and on some days, he does some very good things."

Kashatreya, which in Hindi means the upper caste in government and the military, heads into the Hollie Hughes with a record of 9-6-5 in 42 starts and $522,442.in earnings.

Kashatreya's dam, Douce Carotte, a 14-year-old daughter of Caro, is currently in foal to New York stallion Western Expression, who stands at Highcliff Farm in Delanson, and will be bred back to Mighty, who stands in Kentucky, this season.

Douce Carotte is one of two dozen mares owned by Cohn, who has been breeding horses for almost 50 years.

Another of Cohn's mares, Talentina, is a half-sister to millionaire Dixie Dot Com and to Cherokee Crossing, the dam of one of the country's top Triple Crown contenders, Siphonic. Talentina recently foaled a colt by Miesque's Son, who is a half-brother to Group 1 winner Kingmambo. Cohn, the chairman of the board at Sylvan Lawrence Company, a real estate business in New York City, stands three stallions at Highcliff: Mesopotamia, Daygata, and Hidden Vice. Cohn also stood Kashatreya's sire, Daring Groom, in New York until the stallion's death a few years ago.

Private Emblem top N.Y. Triple Crown nominee

Nine New York-bred 3-year-olds are among the 405 nominees to the early closing of the Triple Crown.

Heading the list is Private Emblem, the winner of the Black Gold Handicap on the grass at the Fair Grounds on Jan. 4 for trainer Steve Asmussen and owners Bob Zollars and James Cassels. Private Emblem, a son of Our Emblem, out of the Halo mare Merion Miss, is being pointed to the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park on March 2.

Private Emblem was bred Dr. Doug Koch's Berkshire Stud and Oak Cliff Stable and was purchased by Zollars and Cassels for $35,000 at the 2000 Keeneland September yearling sale.

Meanwhile, Lord ofthe Thunder, a son of Saint Ballado, blew the doors off his rivals in a pair of statebred races this winter at Aqueduct.

Lord ofthe Thunder, out of the Deputy Minister mare Astarte, was bought for $240,000 as a yearling by Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable in Saratoga at Fasig-Tipton's preferred sale.

Lord ofthe Thunder was bred by Barbara Brewer, the secretary-treasurer of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders Inc. and the owner of Onteora Farm in Canandaigua.

Trainer Dick Lundy was preparing Lord ofthe Thunder for the Whirlaway on Feb. 9 at Aqueduct when he suffered a minor injury. Lundy said, providing all goes well with the colt's training, Lord ofthe Thunder would be a candidate for the $200,000 Gotham on March 17.

Sherm, who was bred by John Hettinger's Akindale Farm, was outstanding in his debut on Jan. 30 at Aqueduct, when he romped in a restricted maiden race by 15 1/2 lengths in a sharp 1:11.70 for six furlongs.

Trainer Gary Contessa worked Sherm, who is owned by West Point Stable, on Friday at Aqueduct, and the colt covered five furlongs in 1:01.90. After the work, Contessa said the plans for Sherm, a son of A. P. Jet, are up in the air, but he hasn't ruled out the Gotham.