01/09/2002 1:00AM

Injured Bienamado is retired


ARCADIA, Calif. - Bienamado, the top turf marathoner in California the last two years, has been retired following the discovery of a suspensory injury last week, trainer Paco Gonzalez said on Wednesday.

Co-owner John Toffan said Bienamado would stand at stud this winter, even though the breeding season starts in a month and no arrangements with a stud farm have been finalized.

"We're looking for a place to stand him," said Toffan, who owns Bienamado with Trudy McCaffery and Robert Sangster. "I want to breed him to a few mares."

A 6-year-old, Bienamado retires with 8 wins in 16 starts and earnings of $1,261,009. Plagued by minor injuries during his career, Bienamado never made more than five starts in a season.

"He was a star-crossed horse," Toffan said.

In 2001, Bienamado won 3 of 5 starts, including the Grade 1 San Juan Capistrano Handicap at Santa Anita and the Grade 1 Charles Whittingham Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Bienamado began his career in England with trainer Peter Chapple-Hyam. At 2, Bienamado won one stakes - the Group 3 Prix de Conde in 1998 in France. At 3, he was winless in four starts, but finished second to Fantastic Light in the Group 2 Great Voltigeur Stakes at York, England, and second to Montjeu in the Group 2 Prix Niel at Longchamp, France.

Bienamado joined Gonzalez's barn at the end of 1999, but back problems kept him out of training until the middle of 2000. For Gonzalez, Bienamado won 6 of 9 starts, all in stakes. He was unplaced in the 2000 and 2001 Arlington Million and ninth after a poor start in the 2001 Santa Anita Handicap, his lone start on dirt.

In his final start, Bienamado finished seventh in the Arlington Million last August, emerging with an injury that kept him out of training until December.

He was attempting a comeback when the injury was detected.

"He ran a lot of good races," Gonzalez said. "The San Juan Capistrano was a big, big race. He never quit."

Time to prove it

I Love Silver's third-place finish in the Grade 1 Malibu Stakes on Dec. 26 has left him with something to prove in Saturday's $200,000 San Fernando Breeders' Cup Stakes at Santa Anita.

Run over 1 1/16 miles, the Grade 2 San Fernando is an opportunity for * to show that he is more than a late-running sprinter. Although he won over a mile around two turns in the Skywalker Handicap last November, the 4-year-old I Love Silver's best races have been in sprints, including a seven-length win in an allowance race at Del Mar and a third in the Grade 1 Ancient Title Breeders' Cup Handicap.

In the Malibu, I Love Silver closed from last in a field of 13, losing by 2 3/4 lengths to Mizzen Mast.

The perception of the gelding's ability at two turns could change in the San Fernando, the middle leg of the Strub Series for 4-year-olds. Trained by Dean Greenman, I Love Silver will be at the back of a large field, and should have ample pace to follow.

"They're talking a full field, so someone has to go to the lead," Greenman said. "They weren't making up ground on opening day [in the Malibu]. I don't think anyone closed like my horse did."

Unlike last year, when Tiznow won the San Fernando, Saturday's race lacks a standout. The probables include Bring Home Thegold, Discreet Hero, Fancy As, Mo Mon, Momentum, Orientate, Reef Diver, Stormin' Heaven, and Western Pride.

Momentum, the winner of the Grade 3 Native Diver Handicap against older horses last month at Hollywood Park, is the likely favorite.

I Love Silver has experience over 1 1/16 miles on this track, having finished second in the 2001 San Felipe Stakes to Point Given. The Skywalker remains his lone stakes win. He was ridden that day by Eddie Delahoussaye, who has the mount on Saturday.

"He's proven around two turns in the Skywalker," Greenman said. "That race set up perfect for him and I hope it will again."

* Came Home, the winner of the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes last summer at Saratoga, worked six furlongs in 1:13.60 on Wednesday. He is expected to make his 3-year-old debut in the $150,000 San Vicente Stakes over seven furlongs on Feb. 2.


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