11/03/2006 1:00AM

Pa Pa Da vs. Retribution in Cormorant


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - The winners of the last two runnings of the Cormorant division of the New York Stallion Stakes, the front-running Retribution and the stretch-running Pa Pa Da, figure to have a major say in the outcome of Sunday's renewal.

The $75,000 Cormorant, scheduled for turf, is one of four stakes on the card restricted to the progeny of New York stallions, along with the $75,000 Perfect Arc for fillies and mares on turf and two $100,000 six-furlong dirt sprints for 2-year-olds, the Great White Way for colts and geldings and the Fifth Avenue for fillies.

Previously run at a mile, the Cormorant and Perfect Arc were lengthened to 1 1/16 miles this year. The extra distance could work to the advantage of Pa Pa Da, who won this race on good turf in 2004. Pa Pa Da has been somewhat erratic throughout his career, but invariably runs well on this turf course, where he recorded his career top Beyer Speed Figure (100) winning an allowance against open company in 2005, and ran second in the Grade 3 Fort Marcy Handicap this past spring.

Pa Pa Da - and everyone else in the oversubscribed field - must catch the speedy Retribution, who wired this race a year ago and has been in top form lately, including a front-running score at 25-1 in the Ashley T. Cole at Belmont. Pa Pa Da never fired in the Cole and finished far back, but trainer David Donk feels the race wasn't a true bill.

"I chalked it up to his dislike of Belmont," he said. "He really likes the course at Aqueduct. I definitely think he's doing as well as when he won this race two years ago."

Other contenders include Continental Reins, who was third, beaten a half-length, in the Mohawk Handicap two weeks ago; Metro Meteor, a winner of four turf sprints this season; and the 3-year-old Classic Pack, a four-time stakes winner on dirt and turf who makes his first start against older rivals.

Perfect Arc: Anyone could take it

The Perfect Arc division includes the top five finishers in a division of the Stallion Series at Saratoga (who are winless from a combined 13 starts since then): Peg's Prayer, Follow My Dream, Baby Gray, Artistic Express, and Fairytale Story. Fairytale Story is part of a Flying Zee Stable entry with the improving Classic Expression.

Also in with a chance in this wide-open race are Tamberino, a probable pace factor from the inside; the soft-turf-loving Inter Galactic, who won a claiming race Wednesday; Higher Incentive, who comes off three Polytrack races in Kentucky; and Dorothy's Destiny, stretching out from turf sprints.