01/18/2007 12:00AM

New York Hero returns in Aqueduct Handicap


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - New York Hero won three of his first five career starts, including the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes, which put him on the Triple Crown trail. But that was four years ago. Since then, New York Hero has gone 3 for 31 without a victory of note.

That explains in part why Ernie Paragallo, the authorized agent for his family-owned Paraneck Stable, has decided to bring New York Hero back to the races at age 7.

"To be a stallion worth anything, he has to do more," Paragallo said.

The fact that New York Hero has been training so strongly in the morning is the reason Paragallo has opted to bring New York Hero back in Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap. Paraneck Stable paid a $1,000 supplemental fee to run in the Aqueduct, which will be New York Hero's first start since he finished last in the Grade 1 Metropolitan Handicap in May.

"There's no allowance race for him. He's ready now," said Paragallo. "Norberto [Arroyo] breezed him for me and said he's better now than he's ever been in his life. He said find a spot for him."

Paragallo had nominated New York Hero to next weekend's Paumonok Handicap at six furlongs, but Arroyo told Paragallo that six furlongs might be a tougher race.

"He said he might be able to relax better going 1 1/16 miles," Paragallo said.

The Aqueduct Handicap is run at 1 1/16 miles over the inner track. New York Hero earned the best Beyer Speed Figure of his career under those same conditions, recording a 111 when he won a fourth-level allowance race by five lengths in February 2004.

The Aqueduct will be a tall task for New York Hero. He will oppose the seven-time stakes winner Naughty New Yorker and in-form allowance runners Mayan King and Liquor Cabinet.

Meanwhile, the current stars of the Paraneck Stable put in workouts Thursday morning in preparation for their next engagements.

Achilles of Troy, who has not run since last year's Gotham, worked five furlongs in 59.46 seconds at Aqueduct. It was the fastest move of seven, by at least two full seconds.

"The light bulb went on," Paragallo said. "We thought he worked in about 1:03. He wasn't even moving. He was going nice and easy."

Achilles of Troy, who won the Count Fleet and Whirlaway over this track last year, is expected to make his return in February.

Pink Viper, who won this year's Count Fleet, breezed six furlongs in 1:14.14. Paragallo said Pink Viper would run next in either an allowance race, the Whirlaway on Feb. 10, or the Miracle Wood at Laurel Park on Feb. 3.

Golden Dreamer, the 3-year-old filly who won the Ruthless last out, worked six furlongs in 1:14.53. Paragallo had previously said Golden Dreamer would most likely make her next start in Florida, but that is subject to change.

"I haven't figured it out yet," Paragallo said.

Joey P. on the comeback trail

Joey P., the multiple stakes-winning New Jersey-bred, is working his way toward a return to the races after having a throat problem cleared up.

On Thursday morning, Joey P. worked three furlongs in 36.89 seconds over the Belmont training track, the best of 13 at the distance. On Jan. 11, Joey P. worked three furlongs in 37.14 seconds.

Joey P. has not run since finishing seventh in the Icecapade Stakes at Monmouth Park on Sept. 4, which was Joey P.'s third consecutive poor performance. After the race, a decision was made to stop on Joey P. to work on a throat issue.

"He showed signs in the summer of a little breathing problem," trainer Ben Perkins Jr. said. "Even in the race on Haskell Day, he didn't seem 100 percent, and the next time it was starting to get to him, so we thought we'd correct it."

Perkins said he hopes to get Joey P. back to the races during the inner track meet.

Perkins also worked recent allowance winner Wild Jam, who went four furlongs in 50.46 seconds. Wild Jam is nominated to next Saturday's $65,000 Paumonok Handicap, but Perkins said he isn't sure whether the horse will run in that race.

Amonte Sr. to ride again

Jockey Frank Amonte Sr., 71, on Saturday will make another bid to become the first rider over age 70 to win a Thoroughbred race. Amonte will ride Eightyninecentsday, whom he rode to a last-place finish here Jan. 6 for his son, trainer Frank Amonte Jr.

Saturday's race is a $15,000 claiming affair for horses who have never won two races. The Jan. 6 race was a first-level allowance race for New York-breds.

Amonte is believed to be the oldest jockey to have won a race; he rode Cuff the Quote to victory at the Northampton Fair on Sept. 4, 2005, a day before his 70th birthday. Willie Clark also rode a winner at age 69.

* Sports Town, prepping for his two-turn debut in the Whirlaway Stakes on Feb. 10, worked five furlongs in 1:02.11 over the Belmont training track. Under exercise rider Simon Harris, Sports Town ran three furlongs in 38 seconds and got his last quarter in 24.11.