02/13/2006 12:00AM

Tougher horses await 'Achilles' in Florida

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OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Having dominated the modest 3-year-old crop in New York, Achilles of Troy is now headed to Florida to continue his preparation for the Triple Crown series. But instead of heading to Gulfstream Park, Achilles of Troy will continue his preparations at Classic Mile Park, a training center located in Ocala.

Trainer Jennifer Pedersen said Monday that Achilles of Troy is scheduled to van to Ocala on Friday, where he will join about 60 other Paraneck Stable horses - mostly babies - at Classic Mile. By training Achilles of Troy at Classic Mile, Pedersen and Ernie Paragallo, the head of Paraneck, are not beholden to any racetrack with a 3-year-old race. According to its website, Classic Mile is a 1 1/2-hour van ride from Tampa Bay Downs and a 4 1/2-hour van ride from Gulfstream.

While Achilles of Troy has three consecutive wins, including two stakes, he has no graded stakes earnings. If more than 20 horses are entered for the Kentucky Derby, the field is based on earnings in graded stakes.

In addition to seeking graded earnings, Achilles of Troy will get a chance to meet stiffer competition.

"He hasn't met anything yet,'' said Pedersen, who added that Achilles of Troy came out of the Whirlaway in good order.

Paragallo has said he would consider running Achilles of Troy next in either the Grade 2, $300,000 Fountain of Youth Stakes on March 4 or the Grade 1, $1 million Florida Derby on April 1. Both races are at Gulfstream. There is also the

Grade 3, $250,000 Tampa Bay Derby on March 18.

Pedersen is expected to head south with Achilles of Troy, though Paragallo has also hired trainer Michael Lerman to oversee the Classic Mile division.

Achilles of Troy won the Whirlaway by 4 3/4 lengths and ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.28 - the second fastest of 27 Whirlaways - while being geared down the final sixteenth of a mile. He earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 103.

Meanwhile, Paragallo said Saturday that he is likely to ship impressive maiden winner Scanlon's Song to Oaklawn Park for the Southwest Stakes on Feb. 20.

Paragallo is so high on Scanlon's Song that when asked if he intended to run Achilles of Troy in the Wood Memorial here on April 8, Paragallo said: "I got the other one for the Wood. The Wood I already got marked in the win column.''

Will Papua seek Hughes four-peat?

Mike Hushion wasn't intending to have Papua attempt to gain a fourth straight victory in the Hollie Hughes Handicap, which will be run on Sunday. But after watching the way Papua worked last Friday the trainer may be rethinking those plans.

Papua, who has not raced since finishing third in the Hudson Handicap last Oct. 22, worked four furlongs in 49.20 seconds over the training track. It was the seventh fastest of 47 works at the distance and a much sharper move than Papua's previous half-mile move.

"It was very encouraging the way he worked [Friday] morning,'' Hushion said. "He made me think about it. He finished good over that cuppy track. It'd just be fun trying it.''

The 7-year-old Papua has won each of the last three runnings of the Hollie Hughes as the favorite. In 2004, he won the race off a two-month layoff. He then proceeded to lose his next nine races before taking the 2005 Hollie Hughes. He is 1 for 5 since.

Papua was assigned high weight of 119 pounds for the Hollie Hughes. Hushion is already planning to run Casper Peterson, a winner of his last two races, in the Hollie Hughes. With Casper Peterson a front-runner and Papua a closer, it could make for a nice entry. "They complement each other nicely,'' Hushion said.

Others pointing to the Hollie Hughes are Big Apple Daddy, Bold Decision, Introspect, Melodeeman, Oz, and Storm Boot Gold.

Short field likely for Capossela

The racing office received only 13 nominations for Saturday's $65,000 Fred "Cappy'' Capossela Stakes for 3-year-olds at six furlongs. Three of the 13 raced in last Saturday's Whirlaway.

Thus, a short field is expected for the Capossela, likely headed by Strummer, the four-length winner of the Jimmy Winkfield Stakes last month. Among the likely challengers are Book Bishop and Like Now. Book Bishop won a maiden race for $75,000 claimers while Like Now is coming off a front-running allowance win over the inner track on Jan. 12.