02/06/2006 1:00AM

Horatius dies in sleep at age 31


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Horatius, sire of champion sprinter Safely Kept, has died at age 31 in Maryland.

The pensioned stallion died in his sleep in his paddock on Feb. 3 at Charles and Cynthia McGinnes's Thornmar in Chestertown, Md.

Horatius had been pensioned since 2001, when arthritis in his hips made him too unsteady to breed. The Proudest Roman horse spent his entire breeding career at Thornmar.

Col. W. Randolph Tayloe bred Horatius in Florida from his unraced Cohoes mare True Charm. Trained by James W. Murphy for Dr. Philip Torsney, Horatius competed for five seasons, racing until he was 6. He earned $383,899 from a record of 18-13-4 in 54 starts. He won seven stakes. His biggest win came in the Grade 3 Riggs Handicap in 1979, and he also equaled Monmouth's one-mile course record of 1:35 in winning the 1980 Red Bank Handicap.

As a sire, Horatius was known for getting tough, versatile runners as well as outstanding steeplechasing, three-day event, and show-jumping horses. Among his top runners were 1990 champion sprinter Safely Kept; graded winners Algar and Oliver's Twist, the latter the runner-up in the 1995 Preakness; and numerous other stakes winners. Horatius never stood for more than $3,500.

"It was very sad for us, because he really did make our farm," said Charles McGinnes, who said Horatius had spent the morning lying in the sun and died sleeping.

Capote colt tops sales work tab

A Capote colt out of stakes winner Jive Talker (Time for a Change) topped the eighth-mile work tab at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co.'s final under-tack show at Miami's Calder Race Course on Sunday.

The Capote colt, Hip No. 104, worked an eighth in 10.20 seconds at the preview, the last before the company's select 2-year-old auction, which was to be held Tuesday at noon.

Two colts worked the afternoon's fastest quarter-mile time of 21.20 - Hip No. 25, a Silver Charm-Ziggaraut colt, and Hip No. 78, an Is It True-Fortunate Chick colt.

* Fasig-Tipton's one-day Midlantic winter mixed sale, its catalog thinned by scratches due to equine herpesvirus restrictions mandated by the company, suffered declines from a year ago across the board Monday at Timonium in Maryland.

Led by the $39,000 mare Christmas Strike, the auction declined 36 percent in gross to $514,700 for 117 lots sold. Last year, 112 were sold. Average fell 39 percent to $4,399, and median dropped 50 percent to $2,000.