03/01/2008 12:00AM

Paragallo lures Ferriola out of retirement

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Pete Ferriola, a three-time leading trainer on the New York circuit who has not saddled a horse since 2001, is coming out of retirement to become a private trainer for Paraneck Stable.

It is unclear when Ferriola will officially take over as the stable's trainer, but he confirmed Saturday that he will begin training shortly. Ernie Paragallo, the authorized agent for his family-owned Paraneck Stable, said he was waiting to hear from Ferriola regarding when he could be in New York. Ferriola currently lives in Springhill, Fla., just north of Tampa.

Ferriola, 65, will train the bulk of the Paraneck horses, with Joey DeMola retaining about 12 to 15, according to Paragallo. Louis Albertrani had been training for Paraneck before he and Paragallo parted company in mid-February. Currently, DeMola trains all of Paraneck's horses, including Magical Forest, who won a maiden race Saturday.

Ferriola became a candidate for the position after Paragallo read a story on the NYRA website that quoted Ferriola as saying he would "absolutely" be interested in training again. Ferriola stopped training in 2001 due in part to health reasons as well as the fact that many of his clients were getting out of the game.

"I'm excited, sure," Ferriola said Saturday by phone from Florida. "There's a lot of work to be done, it looks that way to me. The horses, they'll pick up their feet. We'll jack them up a little bit."

Ferriola said the prospect of working for Paragallo was very intriguing because he has access to some well-bred horses. Also, Paraneck has been first or second in starters on this circuit the last four years.

"I probably wouldn't come back if it wasn't for Ernie and his stable," said Ferriola, who has won 1,129 races in his career. "The guy puts up money. He needs some of the right people. I can get the right people that are going to help him out. Some of the people that want to come back that were with me in the '90s are still around and they're dying for me to come back."

The Paraneck Stable has gone through a litany of trainers since the early 1990s. Ferriola, who was NYRA's leading trainer in wins in 1987, 1991, and 1992, will be the highest profile conditioner the stable has retained as its regular trainer, though Paraneck did have Nick Zito train a few horses in the late '90s.

"Hopefully he brings his knowledge," Paragallo said when asked what Ferriola brings to the operation. "He's a good horseman."