03/13/2002 1:00AM

Bien Bien dead at age 13


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Bien Bien, a top turf horse of the early 90's and sire of millionaire Bienamado, died on Tuesday morning, apparently of a heart attack, at Kirtlington Stud in England.

Bien Bien, a 13-year-old Manila horse, collapsed immediately after covering a mare, Kirtlington representative Ruth Morley said.

"The one comfort is that it was quick," she said. "It was quite a shock for us."

Kirtlington had stood the stallion since 2000, when his owners, John Toffan and Trudy McCaffery, sent him there. This year, Bien Bien was booked to 30 mares, of which he had covered six at the time of his death.

Preliminary necropsy findings suggested that the stallion died of a heart attack caused by a ruptured aorta, according to Christopher Budgett, manager of Kirtlington.

"He was in good shape, outwardly," Budgett said.

Bien Bien, a son of the Graustark mare Stark Winter, earned $2,331,875 at the racetrack in a career that featured victories in four Grade 1 races: the 1992 Hollywood Turf Cup, 1993 Hollywood Turf Handicap, and the 1994 San Juan Capistrano Invitational and San Luis Rey Stakes. He also finished second in the 1993 Breeders' Cup Turf.

His son Bienamado, now 6 and standing his first season at Cardiff Stud Farms in California, is Bien Bien's best runner to date. Winner of half his 16 starts, Bienamado duplicated two of his sire's wins by taking the 2000 Hollywood Turf Cup and 2001 San Juan Capistrano. He earned more than $1.2 million, making him by far the best earner for his sire.

From five crops to race, Bien Bien has progeny earnings in excess of $2.4 million.