11/24/2005 12:00AM

Badge of Silver's best shot?

Owner Ken Ramsey wants a Grade 1 win for Badge of Silver, a 5-year-old.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - When owner Ken Ramsey transferred Badge of Silver to Bobby Frankel 15 months ago, he did it with hope that the Hall of Fame trainer could get the talented but fragile colt a Grade 1 victory.

To date, that hasn't happened. Badge of Silver's next - and possibly last - chance to score his first Grade 1 comes Saturday when he meets 10 rivals in the $350,000 at Aqueduct. The Cigar Mile tops a nine-race card that also includes a pair of Grade 2, $200,000 stakes for 2-year-olds. The Remsen, for males, and Demoiselle, for fillies, are both run at nine furlongs on the main track.

Badge of Silver's chances to win the Cigar Mile increased substantially Thursday morning when Lion Tamer - who beat Badge of Silver in this race last year - was not entered as originally planned. According to trainer Todd Pletcher, a sale of Lion Tamer is pending, and the ownership issue was not resolved by entry time.

"Right now the horse is okay, but I don't know who owns him," said Pletcher, who declined to reveal the potential buyer.

"There's been a contract signed, but the money apparently hasn't changed hands. He's sold for one of two things - to go to stud or possibly run in Dubai."

With Lion Tamer out, Badge of Silver will likely go favored under Jerry Bailey, who seeks his sixth victory in this race in what could be his final career appearance in New York, should he opt to retire at year's end. Badge of Silver, one of three horses carrying top weight of 118 pounds, breaks from post 6.

Badge of Silver, a 5-year-old son of Silver Deputy, began the year with graded stakes wins in the Hal's Hope and New Orleans handicaps. He got hooked in a speed duel when second in the National Jockey Club Handicap at Hawthorne in April, and bled when finishing sixth in the Stephen Foster Handicap at Churchill on June 18. He hasn't run since, but Frankel doesn't see the 161-day layoff as problematic.

"He's ready," said Frankel, who will also start the late-running Mass Media in the Cigar Mile. "He might be over-ready. He's breezing very good."

Badge of Silver has been plagued with foot and ankle issues throughout his 12-race career, but Frankel believes those problems are behind him for now.

Though the Cigar Mile drew 11 horses, there isn't a ton of speed in the field. Badge of Silver will most likely be forwardly placed under Bailey. Scrappy T, one of just two 3-year-olds in the field, and Value Plus, who drew post 11, could also be involved in the early pace.

Scrappy T's last victory came in April's Grade 3 Withers, a one-turn mile at Aqueduct. He has been second in three stakes since, including the Preakness. In the 1 1/8-mile Discovery, on Breeders' Cup Day, Scrappy T found himself on the lead and was run down by Magna Graduate, who was scheduled to run in Friday's Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs.

"I think he's a better horse when he gets a horse to run at," Robby Bailes, the trainer of Scrappy T, said. "Unfortunately, he found himself on the front end last time."

Norberto Arroyo Jr., who was aboard for the Withers win, is back aboard for the Cigar Mile.

Though Lion Tamer won't run, Pletcher will still start three horses in the Cigar Mile. Host, a Grade 1 winner on turf, may be the most interesting of the trio as he returns to dirt for the first time in 19 months. He won a Group 1 race on dirt in Chile and finished third in the 2004 Excelsior Handicap here behind Funny Cide and Evening Attire.

Host finished a troubled seventh in the Breeders' Cup Mile, and has trained well in the interim. John Velazquez rides. Pletcher also sends out Purge, who figures to stalk the pace under Garrett Gomez.

Stakes winners Silver Wagon, Imperialism, and Gygistar are all better suited to the one-turn mile than the races they have run in lately. Silver Wagon finished second to Ghostzapper in the Grade 1 Met Mile in May. Imperialism and Gygistar finished eighth and ninth, respectively, in the six-furlong Breeders' Cup Sprint.

The field

Cigar Mile Handicap
Purse: $350,000; 1 mile; Grade 1

1Straight LineJ. Santos11420-1
2HostJ. Velazquez1148-1
3Scrappy TN. Arroyo Jr.1155-1
4BaileroC. Lopez11230-1
5ImperialismJ. Valdivia Jr.11812-1
6Badge of SilverJ. Bailey1182-1
7PurgeG. Gomez11510-1
8Mass MediaA. Solis1185-1
9GygistarJ. Castellano11510-1
10Silver WagonC. Velasquez1175-1
11Value PlusJ. Bravo11420-1

* Odds by Art Gropper