Updated on 09/17/2011 8:50PM

The makings of another fairy tale


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Stop us if you've heard this one before.

A group of friends from upstate New York puts up a sum of money to buy racehorses. They land on a New York-bred who takes them on the ride of their lives, winning the Kentucky Derby and Preakness and putting their names and faces in every newspaper in North America.

Okay, so Preferred Pals Stable has a way to go before reaching the heights of Sackatoga Stable, the group that owned 2003 champion 3-year-old Funny Cide. But they're on the right track.

Preferred Pals parlayed a win by Sort It Out in last Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes into a tidy profit when it sold a majority interest in the 3-year-old New York-bred to Robert McNair's Stonerside Stable. Preferred Pals retained an interest in Sort It Out in hopes of making it to the Kentucky Derby.

Preferred Pals is a 15-member group headed by Larry Paltrowitz, an attorney based in Glens Falls, less than 20 miles from Saratoga.

"They've had greater success," Paltrowitz said. "Maybe Sort It Out will beat that."

Preferred Pals made some noise last year with My Snookie's Boy, who finished second to Lion Heart in the Long Branch and Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

Allen Iwinksi trains for Preferred Pals. Paltrowitz said he was hoping Iwinksi would be retained as trainer of Sort It Out, but he wasn't overly disappointed when he got three-time Kentucky Derby winner Bob Baffert instead.

"The opportunity with Stonerside presented itself, and everything else we wanted was there in terms of partnering with a quality operation and being able to maintain an interest in the horse," Paltrowitz said. "The goal for both of us in this partnership is to move him forward and have him participate in the Triple Crown."

Preferred Pals was conceived in December 2001. Paltrowitz, who owned Standardbreds for more than 20 years, was at a cocktail party where some of his friends were lamenting their losses in the stock market.

"I said the only fun I ever had losing money was watching my Standardbreds run," Paltrowitz said.

While his friends were not interested in the harness game, they were willing to go as partners if Paltrowitz ever decided to buy Thoroughbreds. Paltrowitz said each pal put up $10,000. In March 2002, they claimed Telescam for $25,000. The horse finished next to last in two starts for Preferred before being claimed for $20,000. Other purchases went better.

The second horse they claimed was Private Lap, who won 5 of 11 starts and finished a neck behind Bowman's Band in the Brandywine Handicap at Delaware. Preferred Pals sold Private Lap after that race. Dashboard Drummer won his first three starts at 2, including the Grade 3 Sapling. He was also third in the Grade 1 Champagne.

Preferred Pals purchased Sort It Out from his breeder, Lewis Lakin, last October after he won his maiden in his fourth career start.

Preferred Pals wasted no time spending some of its Sort It Out money, claiming the 3-year-old He's Hurr Cuelee's for $50,000 out of Thursday's third race at Aqueduct.

Wallace says Sort It Out is for real

With Iwinski in Florida most of the winter, assistant Brad Wallace handled the day-to-day training of Sort It Out. Wallace said he firmly believes Sort It Out is a serious Kentucky Derby contender.

"I would not doubt that he could win at a mile and a quarter with good stock," Wallace said. "I do hope they go to the Derby. I wish them luck."

Wallace, 45, has served as Iwinski's assistant for seven years. When Iwinski takes a leave of absence at the end of April to begin treatments for hepatitis C, Wallace will take over the training of many of his horses, including about eight owned by Preferred Pals.

"Larry mapped it all out Sunday night and told me what his wishes were for the summer," Wallace said. "We'll try to make it come true for him."

Papua seeks third straight Hollie Hughes

Papua joined a not-so-exclusive club when he won his second straight Hollie Hughes Handicap for New York-breds last year. While he was the fifth horse to win consecutive runnings of that race, Papua will seek to become the first to win it three straight times on Sunday.

Despite going winless in eight starts since last year's Hollie Hughes, Papua was assigned high weight of 123 pounds. On Dec. 19, Papua finished third behind Don Six in the Grade 3 Gravesend, but he was a nonfactor in the Paumonok despite getting a hot pace to close into.

Papua will be ridden by Richard Migliore, who was aboard for four of Papua's last five wins.