10/12/2004 12:00AM

Eurosilver starts anew

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Gary I. Rothstein/Equi-Photo
Eurosilver (left), finishing second to Wynn Dot Comma in the Swale, is one of 10 in the Perryville.

LEXINGTON, Ky. - Eurosilver has generated big news at the last two Keeneland meets. Last fall, he became a favorite for the 2004 Kentucky Derby with an eye-popping victory in the Breeders' Futurity. Last spring, he fell ill to a mysterious infection, thus becoming the most notable defection on the Triple Crown trail.

Now here it is, fall again, and once again Eurosilver is making headlines at Keeneland. He will make his first start in seven months when he runs Thursday in the $100,000 Perryville Stakes.

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Carl Nafzger is the new trainer of Eurosilver, having replaced Nick Zito in mid-May following a split between Fustok and Zito. Nafzger has been very pleased with the progress Eurosilver has made since he was approved for a return to serious training in mid-July.

"He's been steady the whole time," said Nafzger. "He's hit every deal right. We wanted to get started and thought the Perryville looked like the right spot."

Over the last three months, Eurosilver has not skipped a beat in his training, which began at the Skylight Training Center east of Louisville before Nafzger assimilated the colt into his main string at Churchill Downs. Monday, Eurosilver wrapped up his preparations for the Perryville, breezing a half-mile at Churchill in 47.40 seconds.

Nafzger said he and Fustok have no immediate goals for Eurosilver, whose last race resulted in a narrow defeat in the seven-furlong Swale Stakes at Gulfstream Park on March 13.

"I've got to see a race before I even think about anything else," said Nafzger. "Truly, we haven't thought beyond this. We've got a lot of things to do Thursday. After that, we can think about all the other stuff."

Nafzger said he "heard 25 different stories" about the infection that knocked Eurosilver off the Derby trail in early April. In late March, right after Zito had the colt shipped to Keeneland from Palm Meadows in south Florida, Eurosilver developed a slight protrusion atop his head, just behind an ear, and also came down with a fever and registered an elevated white-cell blood count.

"All we know is that it was an infection that eventually got into his lungs," said Nafzger. "Where it came from, or exactly what it was, nobody seems to know."

Eurosilver was sired by Unbridled's Song, who is by Unbridled, the 1990 Kentucky Derby and Breeders' Cup Classic winner who was the main force behind Nafzger being voted the Eclipse Award for top trainer that year. But nostalgia is irrelevant, said Nafzger.

"I don't care if it's a son or a grandson of Unbridled, or anything else, really," he said. "If the horse can run, and it's in my barn, that's when I get excited."

Zito is in a position to spoil the comeback race for Eurosilver. Zito is the trainer of Commentator, who makes his stakes debut after winning his first three starts, all of them against statebred company, by a combined margin of more than 27 lengths. Commentator has a blazing turn of foot and recorded a 106 Beyer Speed Figure in his latest win.

The Perryville is the eighth of nine races on an excellent Thursday program that also includes three allowances (races 6, 7, 9). First post is 1:15 p.m. Eastern.