02/09/2006 12:00AM

Last soft spot for 'Achilles'

Email
Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Achilles of Troy, cruising to a 14-length win in the Count Fleet, is a big favorite in Saturday's Whirlaway.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Owner Ernie Paragallo is hoping to get one more easy race into Achilles of Troy before hitting the Triple Crown trail in earnest next month. On paper, at least, Saturday's $65,000 Whirlaway Stakes should fit the bill.

, the 14-length winner of last month's Count Fleet Stakes, meets six challengers in the Whirlaway, which at 1 1/16 miles is only 40 yards farther than the Count Fleet. He will be ridden by Ramon Dominguez.

"If he's a legitimate classic-type horse, you got to beat those type of horses if you don't get in trouble," Paragallo said. "With Dominguez on him, you don't expect to get into trouble."

With Achilles of Troy starting to look like a serious 3-year-old, Paragallo replaced jockey Alan Garcia with Dominguez for the Whirlaway. Dominguez has worked Achilles of Troy twice and figures to work out a stalking trip from post 6. At 122 pounds, Achilles of Troy concedes four to six pounds to the rest of the field.

, a New York-bred stakes-winning sprinter, and Eye for Style, a front-running two-turn winner at The Meadowlands, are in posts 1 and 2 and should provide Achilles of Troy the targets he prefers. Psychotic Reaction also showed speed in both of his two-turn races.

"It looks like a bunch of sprinters," Paragallo said. "Hopefully, he'll be able to track them."

Achilles of Troy, trained by Jennifer Pedersen, had a perfect trip in the Count Fleet, sitting two lengths behind dueling leaders who went a half-mile in 46.10 seconds. Achilles of Troy made an eye-catching move to the front under Garcia around the far turn and won handily despite switching back to his wrong lead in the stretch.

Paragallo said he chose to keep Achilles of Troy in New York just to get him some more experience.

, who won the Damon Runyon Stakes for New York-breds in December, finished 15 1/2 lengths behind Achilles of Troy in the Count Fleet. Trainer Joe Lostritto said he believes a wide trip cost him a better showing that day.

"He's definitely a closer," Lostritto said. "The question is how far back does he have to be? He's ready for this race. If we get a good trip, I think we'll win it."

Rob'em Blind was beaten 5 1/2 lengths by Achilles of Troy on Dec. 29, then came back 16 days later to win his maiden by 3 1/2 lengths. Both of those starts came for Gary Contessa, the leading trainer at this meet.