11/04/2005 1:00AM

Retribution makes debut for Hertler


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - John Hertler already trains one of the better New York-bred turf horses in Dave, with whom Hertler won the West Point Handicap at Saratoga. Three weeks ago, Hertler took over the training of another talented New York-bred grass runner in Retribution, who heads a deep field in Sunday's $100,000 Cormorant Stakes at Aqueduct.

Run at one mile on the turf, the Cormorant is one of four stakes on Sunday's card restricted to progeny of New York-based stallions. The other three are the $100,000 Perfect Arc for fillies and mares at a mile on turf, and the $125,000 Great White Way for juveniles and the $125,000 Fifth Avenue for juvenile fillies, both on dirt at six furlongs.

, previously trained by Gary Contessa, has 3 wins and 3 seconds from 6 turf starts against New York-breds. Contessa had a falling out with the principals who make up Retribution's ownership group, Our Canterbury Stables, and Retribution was transferred to Hertler.

"He came in excellent condition," Hertler said. "I hope I can do as well with him. He's got speed, he's quick, he'll probably be up close."

The Cormorant overfilled, as 13 were entered for turf and two more were entered for the main track. Only 10 will be permitted to run on the grass.

Unnerving, a 4-year-old, has run three solid races since being gelded. Most recently, Unnerving won an entry-level allowance race and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 89. Unnerving was beaten one length by Pa Pa Da in this race last year.

, trained by Juliane Brida, has run a couple of races this year that would be good enough to win this. That includes a July 16 performance at Belmont when he won a statebred allowance race by two lengths going one mile.

are hoping the softer company negates their preference for dirt. In his only turf try, West Virginia finished last behind Kitten's Joy in the Palm Beach Stakes at Gulfstream. Win With Beck won the off-the-turf Mohawk last out and is only 1 for 6 on turf.

The Perfect Arc lacks a true favorite. Waytotheleft may try to wire the field, though she is suspect at the distance. Forbidden Sea could work out a ground-saving trip from the rail after losing significant ground when fourth to Champagne Ending last out. Champagne Ending was 46-1 in her turf debut when she beat Forbidden Sea. Tiffany's Rodeo, the Flying Zee Stable entry of Square Dancing and Contenders Emotion, Ihaveadate, and Tomorrows Lady complete the field.