08/12/2001 11:00PM

Germany's Silvano thriving on U.S. soil


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - It came as no surprise to see Silvano playfully bouncing back to Arlington's quarantine barn after cantering about a mile Monday morning during his first piece of exercise on American soil.

A long plane journey from Germany on Saturday apparently had sapped little of Silvano's energy.

By Silvano's standards, this was a short trip. Silvano has traveled the world this year, training in Italy over the winter, then shipping to Singapore, Dubai, and Hong Kong for an extended spring campaign before returning to Germany in May. He is not done yet, either. If Silvano runs well in the Million, he'll head to Belmont for the Man o 'War, and if he runs well there, he's off to Australia for the Group 1 Cox Plate.

"He's such a brilliant traveler," said Simon Stokes, a former German steeplechase rider who serves as an assistant to trainer Andreas Wohler. Stokes also is the racing manager for Silvano's owner, Gestut Stiftung Fahrhof, one of Germany's leading owners. On Sunday, Silvano's 3-year-old full brother, Sabiango, won the Group 1 Grosser Kolner Preis at Cologne.

The Million's 1 1/4-mile distance should fit Silvano perfectly. Both Silvano's wins this year, one in a Group 1, came at the Million distance, and American handicappers should note that the horse has been at a disadvantage in his several tries over 12 furlongs. "That's a tick too far for him," Stokes said. "Two thousand meters [about a mile and a quarter] - that's his best race."

Silvano put in his last major work for the Million at Wohler's training base near Bremen the Tuesday before shipping here. Silvano hasn't raced since May 12, when he finished fifth in Singapore after bruising his foot a week before his race. He has been back in serious training for six weeks, and gives the appearance of an animal at the peak of fitness, with good muscle tone, a fine coat, and an abundance of personality.

Silvano is rated the best European hope in Saturday's Million. Three other Europeans, Caitano, Muakaad, and Compton Bolter are due Tuesday. All will be stabled in Arlington's quarantine barn but are free to train with other horses if blood samples examined at a USDA lab in Ames, Iowa, test negative for disease.

A major shipment of West Coast-based horses arrives Wednesday, including likely Million favorite Bienamado, who worked Sunday at Santa Anita, going five furlongs in 1:00 with Chris McCarron up. Trainer Paco Gonzalez said Bienamado galloped out six furlongs in 1:12.40.

Other Californians include White Heart, who worked on the Del Mar turf Monday, going four furlongs around the dogs in 51.20 seconds; Eddie Read winner Redattore, who works Tuesday; and United Nations winner Senure.

Hap, the likely second choice and lone East Coast-based Million hope, will arrive Thursday.

Strut The Stage a no-brainer for Frostad

Mark Frostad, the trainer for the powerful Canadian owner Sam-Son Farms, also helps pick out prospective sales purchases for his owners. Plucking Strut The Stage from the Keeneland September Sale two years ago required little thought, Frostad said. "It was a pretty simple thing. He's from the immediate family of Chief Bearhart."

Chief Bearhart, a foal of 1993, won $3.21 million and the Breeders' Cup Turf while racing for Frostad and Sam-Son. From what he has shown so far, Strut The Stage could be a horse of comparable quality.

The colt runs here Saturday in the Grade 1 Secretariat, one of three Grade 1 starters on the day for Sam-Son and Frostad. Quiet Resolve and Only to You will be longshots in their respective races, the Million and the Beverly D.

But Strut The Stage must be considered a serious threat in his race. By Theatrical, Strut The Stage has raced five times in his career, all on turf, and tasted defeat only in the Summer Stakes late last summer. "He came out of the Summer with a shin [injury). He wasn't right, so we put him away," Frostad said. "He's had it pretty easy up here" in Canadian races. "He hasn't had to dig in at all."

Strut The Stage should have no trouble getting the Secretariat's 10 furlongs, and will come with a strong run if he settles in behind other horses. "The important thing is to get him covered up. He's very European. He has a great explosive move."

Todd Kabel will ride all three horses for Frostad. Quiet Resolve, second in the Breeders' Cup Turf last year, looks to bounce back from a disappointing race in the July 22 Hong Kong Jockey Club, a race in which Frostad said the gelding bled through Lasix. "He can only get five cc's of Lasix up here, though," Frostad said. "He'll have more at Arlington, and that should help."

Package Goods maybe in Secretariat after all

With the defection of Kalu, and with Proud Man unlikely to start, Package Store, the colt who was close to being excluded from the Secretariat a week ago because he lacked graded stakes earnings, probably will get into the race.

Package Store finished second in his last two starts, both Grade 3 turf stakes at Belmont Park. The horse that beat him by a length in the July 15 Lexington Stakes, Sharp Performance, also is coming for the Secretariat, along with Navesink, a head behind Package Store in the Hill Prince and the subsequent winner of the Grade 3 Kent Breeders' Cup.

That list typifies the depth of the field lining up for the $400,000 Secretariat, this country's top 3-year-old grass race. Besides the group of strong East Coast 3-year-olds, Startac is coming from the West, and Mizzen Mast,

Group 1-placed in France, arrived Saturday. Mizzen Mast, trained by Criquette Head-Maarek and to be ridden by Jerry Bailey, was out for an easy canter Monday morning and has settled in nicely here.

* American Derby winner Fan Club's Mister, bound for the Secretariat, worked five furlongs on dirt here Sunday in 1:01.40 with jockey Randy Meier up. Royal Spy, another Secretariat runner, worked a half-mile in 53 seconds.