02/07/2002 12:00AM

Whirlaway field an intriguing assortment

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JAMAICA, N.Y. - If the past is an indicator of the future, Saturday's Whirlaway Stakes at Aqueduct will have little impact upon the Triple Crown. The only winner of the Whirlaway, first run in 1980, to win one of the spring classics was Prairie Bayou, the 1993 Preakness winner.

What happens this year remains to be seen, but in the meantime an interesting group of 3-year-olds entered the $75,000-added Whirlaway. The nine-horse field includes a stakes-placed runner, a couple of colts with impressive two-turn wins who are making their stakes debuts, and two English imports.

D'Coach, owned by Star Racing Stable, finished second as the favorite to the now-sidelined Iron Deputy in the Count Fleet last month. D'Coach, a Dehere colt, came from off the pace with a late run but didn't threaten Iron Deputy, who was a 2 3/4-length winner.

"I thought his last race was really good," said Buzz Tenney, an assistant to D'Coach's trainer, Shug McGaughey. Iron Deputy, Tenney said, "is a nice horse and got the jump on us and we couldn't catch him. It's not like the winner was stopping; he kept running."

Javier Castellano, who won the Whirlaway last year aboard Regal Shivers, rides D'Coach. McGaughey's closer drew post 8 and needs a lively pace up front.

Saratoga Blues, who drew the rail, and Smoked Em in post 2, could give D'Coach an assist.

Saratoga Blues and Smoked Em will be making their stakes debuts after winning their last two starts in routes while showing early speed.

Tony Dutrow, a high percentage stakes trainer, sends out Saratoga Blues, a winner of a first-level allowance at the Big A on Dec. 20. Dutrow, a winner of two stakes at Aqueduct this year, said Saratoga Blues, a son of Twining, has the looks of a good one.

"He's got all the tools," Dutrow said.

Similarly, Smoked Em's trainer, Todd Pletcher, likes what he has seen from his Smoke Glacken colt. Smoked Em won a two-turn maiden race at Aqueduct in December by 8 1/2 lengths after stumbling at the start and quickly recovering. Pletcher's colt came back on Jan. 20 to win his first start against winners while under early pressure.

"He really has a good mind and an efficient way of getting around the track," Pletcher said. "So far his races have been pretty encouraging."

Adding some intrigue to the Whirlaway is Goshin's Lad and More Specific. Both horses make their first starts on this side of the Atlantic after winning dirt races in England over left-handed courses.

The Sewickley Kid, Dr. Rockett, Flo's Bo, and Storm Commander complete the field.

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