10/07/2003 11:00PM

Farewell day for Sir Bear

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MIAMI - Sir Bear, who retired earlier this year at 10 with earnings of more than $2.5 million, will return to the track one last time as the feature attraction during the annual Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation ceremony on Saturday's Festival of the Sun program at Calder.

Sir Bear was a three-time Grade 1 winner and one of the most popular horses to race in south Florida over the past decade. He currently resides on a farm in nearby Davie, Fla., located just a few furlongs from the home of his owner-breeders, Barbara and Al Smollin.

Sir Bear looks as fit now as he did during his glory days, which included victories in the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap, Grade 1 Cigar Mile, and Grade 1 Metropolitan Mile. He is ridden three or four times a week, either by Barbara or his regular exercise rider, Felicity Waugh, or lunged for a half-hour by Al Smollin.

"He's doing great," said Al Smollin, a practicing veterinarian at Calder. "He looks like he's ready to run. He'll probably get on his toes a bit when he hits the track Saturday. We'll bring him in Friday and ride him around the training track Saturday morning so he doesn't get too hyper. Hopefully that will help. But I'll be ready to tranquilize him if I have to."

Sir Bear retired sound. He had a chronic bleeding problem that got progressively harder to control as he got older. He was trained throughout his career by Ralph Ziadie.

"As good as he looks there is no temptation to put him back in training," said Al Smollin. "Even if he could go back, Barbara wouldn't allow it. She spends most of her day out at the farm playing with him and then goes back again at night to clean his stall."

The Thoroughbred Retirement Foundation is a non-profit organization dedicated to the humane retirement and treatment of Thoroughbred racehorses and is wholly supported by donations from private citizens and the racing industry. The TRF operates a Florida division farm at the Marion County Correctional Institute in Ocala.

* Neither French Village nor Sir Oscar is a candidate for an Eclipse Award even if either should complete a sweep of the the Florida Stallion Stakes series on Saturday. But four previous Stallion Stakes winners did win an Eclipse, including Brave Raj, who became 2-year-old filly champion in 1986.

* While the finales of the Florida Stallion Stakes series, the My Dear Girl and In Reality, are now run on the same day, that wasn't always the case. In the past, the two races were separated by one week, which gave trainers with a talented filly a chance to run their horse in both divisions. In fact two horses, Lucky Touch in 1983 and Regal Princess in 1986, each ran in four divisions of the Stallion Stakes.