11/07/2003 1:00AM

Banker's Gold to stand at Reigle Heir in 2004

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Tom Reigle thinks there's good reason to be enthusiastic about the addition of Banker's Gold to his Reigle Heir Farms roster in Grantville, Pa., for 2004.

"I feel so fortunate to have gotten this horse," Reigle said. "He's grand looking, the foals from his first two crops are running well, and he's got big crops coming up."

Banker's Gold, a 9-year-old son of Forty Niner, arrived in Pennsylvania in late October after launching his career at Airdrie Stud in Kentucky. Reigle has made similar arrangements with Airdrie over the past 10 years, bringing popular stallions such as Roanoke, Judge T C, and Patton - Pennsylvania's current leading sire - to the Mid-Atlantic region. Reigle believes Banker's Gold is a perfect fit.

"He's one of the nicer horses to stand in the region," Reigle said.

During his two years of competition, Banker's Gold won the Grade 2 Tom Fool Handicap at seven furlongs, beating accomplished sprinters Partner's Hero and Richter Scale. He also carried his speed to victory in the Grade 2 Peter Pan Stakes at 1 1/8 miles. Banker's Gold twice ran second in Grade 1 races - to Wild Rush in both the Metropolitan and Carter handicaps - while defeating the likes of Elusive Quality, Kelly Kip, Distorted Humor, and Frisk Me Now.

Banker's Gold retired with career earnings of $461,420 from 15 starts. His dam, the Nijinsky II mare Banker's Lady, was an earner of $594,297 who won five stakes, including the Grade 1 Ladies, Top Flight, and Shuvee handicaps. His second dam, Impetuous Gal, won the Matron Handicap and three other stakes. Others in the family include millionaire Ecton Park (also by Forty Niner), as well as Northern Fling, who carved an indelible mark on Pennsylvania's sire rankings in the late 1980's, leading the state lists three times.

From his first two crops to race, Banker's Gold has sired stakes winners Mr. Decatur and Jenny's Prospector, stakes-placed Sockitaway, and 29 other winners. He ranked 19th in the nation on the 2002 freshman sire list, with 12 winners and progeny earnings of $452,710, and is currently ranked fourth on Pennsylvania's list of leading sires.

The original syndicate retains ownership of Banker's Gold, who will stand the 2004 season for $3,500, with a discounted fee of $3,000 to Pennsylvania-registered mares.

Leading sire Nepal dies at 23

Nepal, who made his career at Upland Spring Farm in Unionville, was humanely destroyed on Oct. 13 due to infirmities of old age. The 23-year-old stallion was buried on the farm.

"He was a pretty cool horse," said Heather Hunter, who managed the stallion's career since his retirement to stud in 1987. Nepal, a multiple graded-stakes-winning son of Raja Baba out of the stakes-winning mare Dumtadumtadum (by Grey Dawn II), was Pennsylvania's stallion of the year a record seven times during the 1990's. His runners included graded-stakes winner Fabersham, who earned $645,467, and six-time stakes winner Le Grande Pos, who earned $613,156.

From 14 crops of racing age, Nepal sired 146 winners from 195 starters, with 11 stakes winners and 10 stakes-placed runners. This year, his son Guerdon won the Capital City Handicap at Penn National.

Maui Meadow Farm loses Foligno

Augustin Stables' Foligno, who moved to Maui Meadow Farm in 1994 after initially standing in Maryland, was put down on Oct. 21 due to laminitis. "He was one of Pennsylvania's good ones," said Charles Lyman of Maui Meadow. Foligno, a graded-stakes winner by Foolish Pleasure out of Zerelda (by In Reality), was 21.

Foligno sired seven stakes winners and three stakes-placed horses from 98 starters, including such hard-knocking Pennsylvania runners as Tonto Gusto, an earner of $451,589 who captured two stakes at Penn National, and three-time stakes winner Dutch Daulton. Swayo, winner of the 2000 and 2003 runnings of the Maryland Hunt Cup, is also a son of Foligno.