01/29/2004 1:00AM

Foley finds new hot prospect


A year after nearly sweeping the stakes races for 3-year-old males at Turfway with Champali, trainer Greg Foley is back with another promising 3-year-old. His latest up-and-comer, Silver Minister, heads 14 entrants, including two also-eligibles, in Saturday's $50,000 WEBN Stakes at Turfway Park.

Champali and Silver Minister share many similarities. Both were purchased for moderate prices as yearlings, and each won the Turfway Prevue leading up to the WEBN for separate ownership syndicates under the management of Lloyd Madison Farms.

Champali went on to win not only the WEBN, but also the John Battaglia Stakes. He wound up finishing third in the Lane's End.

Silver Minister, a 3-year-old by Silver Deputy stretches out to two turns for the first time in the one-mile WEBN. Although untested beyond 6 1/2 furlongs, Silver Minister has a route pedigree. His dam, Mint Leaf, is a half-sister to Ide, who won the 1 1/16-mile Kentucky Jockey Club, among other graded stakes races.

Silver Minister's sprint races have been of high quality. He finished second in his debut to Wildcat Shoes, eventual winner of the Sugar Bowl Stakes at Fair Grounds, and after following that race with another second, has won two straight.

His Turfway Prevue score was his fastest race. He sped to the front in the mud, and steadily increased his lead, winning by five lengths. He earned an Beyer Speed Figure of 84.

While Silver Minister is trying to prove the ability to race effectively at a route, five entrants in the WEBN are already winners racing two turns. Commandment, Peter the Rock, Mister E.K., Kate's Genius, and Rubiano Lad have all won at a mile or longer.

Rubiano Lad is the only starter with multiple route victories, having won his maiden and an allowance at a mile. His most recent victory came Jan. 7 when he rallied from off the pace to post a 1 1/4-length victory over Commandment.

Although he earned just a Beyer Figure of 68 for that performance, Rubiano Lad finished well with a wide rally.

Silver Minister and Rubiano Lad will have to overcome an interrupted training schedule to win. They are based at Churchill Downs Trackside, where the track has been frozen for much of the last 10 days.

To maintain his fitness Silver Minister was shipped to Turfway to breeze over its track, which is less prone to freezing in cold weather. He worked five furlongs in 59.40 seconds on Wednesday.