12/14/2004 12:00AM

Dean's list of freshman sires

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LAS VEGAS - With only two weeks remaining until the end of the year, it's time to take stock of this year's group of freshman sires, and as happens every year, they are an eclectic mix of speed and classic influences who should have an impact for years to come.

It is important to categorize the freshman stallions to evaluate their potential. It is unfair - and inaccurate - to gauge stallion success based solely on the 2-year-old form of every sire. The offspring of many stallions will be much more effective as they mature at 3 and older, stretching out to distances over one mile, while others are by stallions whose runners will be dramatically better on grass.

For example, the 2-year-olds by such sires as Lemon Drop Kid (by Kingmambo), Golden Missile (A.P. Indy), Stephen Got Even (A.P. Indy), Best of Luck (Broad Brush), Behrens (Pleasant Colony), Cat Thief (Storm Cat), War Chant (Danzig), and Crowd Pleaser (A.P. Indy) were never expected to have the kind of precocious speed of offspring by Successful Appeal or Yes It's True. Giant's Causeway and Fusaichi Pegasus both got off to a great start and their runners should be even better next year at 3.

Below is a partial list of freshman sires whose offspring held a distinct advantage at 2 and should continue to be best sprinting up to 1 1/16 miles. Future columns will focus on those freshman sires whose offspring will blossom at 3 and 4, stretching out on dirt or turf.

Successful Appeal: Even if you never saw Successful Appeal race, one look at his sire line (Valid Appeal-In Reality-Intentionally) would tell all you need to know regarding his offspring. The sire line is famous for speed, and true to form, his juveniles got off to a fast start, winning baby sprints early in the year, and continued winning at a high percentage throughout the year. Like past leading freshman sires Cherokee Run and End Sweep, Successful Appeal will have some runners win at 1 1/16 miles, but his offspring will be characterized by speed.

Yes It's True: Bred for speed top (Is It True) and bottom (Clever Trick) like Successful Appeal, Yes It's True was precocious at 2, winning four stakes. He has been in a ding-dong battle with Successful Appeal nearly the entire year and his foals should always be considered in races up to 1 1/16 miles.

Cape Canaveral: By Mr. Prospector and a full brother to 1995 2-year-old filly champion Golden Attraction, Cape Canaveral won three of his four starts sprinting and his runners were certainly expected to inherit that speed. His three stakes-winning juveniles include Megascape, Launch Sequence, and Roving Angel.

More Than Ready: By speed influence Southern Halo, More Than Ready was yet another win-early 2-year-old. He won four early-season juvenile stakes. He was a sprinter-miler whose class helped him finish second in the Blue Grass and Dwyer stakes and the Louisiana Derby at longer distances. His juveniles showed early and often. From 34 starters through Monday, 16 have won.

Precise End: By a former leading freshman sire, End Sweep, Precise End was good at 2, winning Woodbine's Display Stakes. He also finished third in three other stakes, including the Cowdin. At 3, he won the Bay Shore and was second in the Withers, and I tabbed him to be among the best freshman sires standing in New York. He exceeded expectations, and was not only the leading New York-based freshman sire (he has since been exported to Japan, like his sire and his grandsire, Forty Niner), but he ranks eighth among all freshman sires.

Sweetsouthernsaint: A son of the deceased speed influence Saint Ballado, Sweetsouthernsaint was undefeated in three starts at 2, including the What a Pleasure Stakes. His best runner is Better Than Bonds, who also won the What a Pleasure Stakes at 1 1/16 miles. With his early success, Sweetsouthernsaint should get better-quality mares and his Florida-bred offspring should continue to prosper in sprints.

Old Topper: By Gilded Time, a 2-year-old champion known for transmitting brilliance to his runners, Old Topper had high speed, and that made him an excellent 2- and 3-year-old sprinter. From a small crop of 35 juveniles, he had 17 starters, and 9 winners, including 2 stakes winners. Standing in California, he's likely to join established sires Bertrando, Cee's Tizzy, and In Excess as one of that state's best speed influences.

Catienus: Of the top 75 freshman sires (based on their progeny's earnings), 17 are by sons of Storm Cat, including Catienus. Catienus is the sire of 15 winners in his first crop, including stakes winner Kathern's Cat and stakes-placed Stephie's Cat. Because of his sire line (Storm Cat-Storm Bird-Northern Dancer), watch for his runners to take to grass.

Dance Master: Like many sons of speed influence Gone West (Mr. Prospector), Dance Master was a stakes winner at 2, winning the Bashford Manor. From only 9 starters, he is the sire of 5 winners, including Cowdin Stakes winner, Flamenco. He possesses a powerful HT2 (hidden turf top and bottom) pedigree with the cross of Gone West and Nijinsky II, and his runners should offer value on turf.

Lion Hearted: Not to be confused with Lion Heart, this sire has a knockout pedigree (Storm Cat out of stakes winner Cadillacing, a full sister to Easy Goer) and his Maryland-bred juveniles have impressed. He has sired 9 winners from 12 starters, including two stakes winners, Hear Us Roar and Chocolate Brown.

Western Expression: Another son of Gone West, he is a half-brother to King Cugat. While King Cugat (Kingmambo) achieved greater success on the track, Western Expression was bred for more speed, and his New York-bred 2-year-olds have shown speed on dirt and turf.