01/03/2002 1:00AM

Affluent has the promise of royalty on top and bottom


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Following her victory in Santa Anita's La Brea Stakes, Affluent has now won a Grade 1 stakes on turf (the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup at Keeneland) and one on dirt. If this isn't enough to make this chestnut daughter of Affirmed a special filly, she is also the best descendant of champion Bayakoa yet to race.

Bayakoa, who was twice the Eclipse Award winner as champion older mare, won a dozen Grade 1 stakes in the U.S., as well as another in her homeland, Argentina. In all, Bayakoa won 21 races and more than $2.8 million, most of it for Frank and Janis Whitham, who purchased her and brought her to race in America with trainer Ron McAnally.

When Bayakoa retired, she went to live in Kentucky at Frank Penn's Pennbrook Farm outside Lexington. Penn recalled that "Bayakoa was a typical tough racemare. She'd run herself fit in the paddock, and she never really let down the way you'd expect with a broodmare. She wasn't mean or anything, but she had a mind of her own, and we adjusted to her, rather than trying to make her fit our way of doing things."

Her determined attitude didn't stop Bayakoa from having nice foals, and Trinity Place was her first offspring. Bayakoa produced four foals at Pennbrook before her 1997 death from laminitis. In addition to Trinity Place, Whitham has Bayakoa's last foal, the Broad Brush mare Arlucea, as a broodmare at Pennbrook. Penn said that Whitham "has quietly been developing a very good broodmare band. We have a good bunch of 2-year-olds and yearlings by sires like Pulpit and Kingmambo. And in addition to the Bayakoa family, the Whithams also have a top Secretariat mare named Listen Well."

Just now, however, the stars are the two daughters of Bayakoa, and of course, her granddaughter Affluent. Janis Whitham is the owner and breeder of Affluent, the first foal out of Bayakoa's unraced daughter Trinity Place, by Strawberry Road.

Penn noted that "people have been trying to buy Affluent ever since she won the Queen Elizabeth, but when you can win Grade 1's on dirt and turf, it's hard to let one go. The Whithams are a wonderful Kansas ranching family. They're very low-key but real sportsmen. Mrs. Whitham sure enjoys her horses, and it's not very often you get one like Affluent."

The two Grade 1 successes by Affluent have made Trinity Place that much more special. A chestnut daughter of two bays, Trinity Place "looks more like Strawberry Road than Bayakoa," Penn said. "Trinity Place is probably a little shorter than Bayakoa but has the same rear end." Trinity Place also showed some ability in training with McAnally, but a training injury sent her home to be a broodmare.

In that role she has done her relations proud, producing a multiple Grade 1 winner as her first foal. The 10-year-old Trinity Place also has a 3-year-old at the track with McAnally. Named Sunset Place, the colt is by Gilded Time and has run second in his only start to date. Penn said, "He's a good colt. He and the yearling colt by Quiet American are both good-looking horses." Trinity Place doesn't have a 2-year-old, but she is in foal on a May 7 cover to Honour and Glory, the leading freshman sire last year when his first crop included the champion 2-year-old filly, Caressing. Trinity Place is booked to Thunder Gulch for this year.

The Whithams breed to race, as some of their matings with Bayakoa clearly indicate. Strawberry Road was never a commercial sire with a lot of hype, but he did quite well with the mares provided to him by Allen Paulson and other breeders interested in breeding to a tough, sound racehorse. He repaid their confidence with such champions as Escena and Ajina, as well as the Whithams' high-class racer Mud Route, and Trinity Place is yet another recommendation for the policy of trying to breed solid racehorses.

Not only were Strawberry Road and Bayakoa tough as boot leather, but their daughter Trinity Place was then bred to another multiple champion in Affirmed. A winner of 22 races and three championships over three years of campaigning, Affirmed was twice Horse of the Year and won the Triple Crown in 1978. At stud he has sired 78 stakes winners, and although he died last year, his story is not over. With such good racers as Affluent to carry the torch, the great old names will live for generations to come.