10/11/2001 11:00PM

It took dealing to keep Siphon in Kentucky


LEXINGTON, Ky. - You's victory in the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont last weekend made her a favorite for both the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies and for the 2-year-old filly championship. And the victory of Siphonic in the Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland stamped that son of Siphon as a contender for the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

These results provoked cheering at the Airdrie Stud of Brereton and Libby Jones, since the sires of both these graded winners stand at their farm, as well as Silver Hawk, who also had a Group 2 winner in France over the weekend. You is the best racer yet sired by the Kris S. stallion You and I, a winner of the Metropolitan Handicap, and Brereton Jones said that "with six stakes winners this year, You and I is certainly doing more than holding his own and is getting noticed. He puts a good shoulder, head, and neck on his offspring, which makes them attractive yearlings."

You was bred in Kentucky by Dolphus Morrison, who sold the filly to Edmund Gann before she had earned black type. She did that in her next start, the Adirondack Stakes at Saratoga, and in the Frizette, You proved beyond any doubt that she is a very talented filly.

With Siphonic, Airdrie's freshman sire Siphon got his first graded stakes winner, and he has Jones feeling very optimistic. Although a Brazilian-bred horse with one of the least familiar pedigrees possible, Siphon was a hit with Kentucky breeders and buyers, averaging $98,692 for his first weanlings and $128,210 for his first-crop yearlings.

Part of the reason for Siphon's popularity is that he is a much-needed outcross for essentially any line in American breeding. And a second reason for breeders' interest in Siphon is that he is such an impressive animal. A big bay with a blaze down his face, Siphon is a brawny beast. He has the length and bone and muscle mass that distinguishes a horse of immense power, and he used his power for impressive shows of speed on the racetrack. Like the best horses, he could carry his speed a distance, winning the Hollywood Gold Cup and Santa Anita Handicap at 10 furlongs.

He was the horse who set up Cigar's defeat in the Pacific Classic and ended that champion's string of victories. In that race, Siphon set the pace and then ran with Cigar through a mile in 1:33.60. Dare and Go passed them both in a final quarter of 26.20 seconds, because the top pair had expended too much energy on each other to cope with another challenge in the stretch.

Jones was there for that race, but his interest in Siphon had begun much earlier. "I was so taken with Siphon after a race at Hollywood that I went back to the barn with him," he said. "And before he had a Grade 1 victory here, I was able to acquire a right of first refusal on the stallion rights to Siphon from his breeder, Mr. Linneo Eduardo de Paula Machado."

Subsequently, Siphon proceeded to win at the Grade 1 level and prove himself one of the most durable and competitive horses of the late 1990's.

"After that, a lot of people were wanting to stand him, but Mr. Paula Machado honored his commitment, which was only a verbal agreement," Jones said. "He wanted to keep the Southern Hemisphere rights to the horse and sold only the Northern Hemisphere rights."

This posed a modest problem for Jones. "I don't like shuttling stallions," he said. "But I was able to persuade him that we should postpone the shuttling until Kentucky breeders got familiar with Siphon.

"So he didn't shuttle the first two years, after which he was supposed to shuttle down to South America. But then Mr. Paula Machado sold half of all his horse interests to Dee Hubbard, including half of that interest in Siphon."

This didn't entirely eliminate the question of shuttling, but it offered a possible solution, Jones said,

"By this time, I was so high on Siphon from what I'd seen from this horse that I just had to keep him here if possible," Jones said. "Then the other syndicate members and I were able to step up and buy the Southern Hemisphere rights to Siphon. We didn't buy them to use but to keep him here."

As a result, Siphon has never shuttled. Jones also revealed that the syndicate had received another offer that would have taken Siphon out of the country for a year-long lease, but that too was declined. Breeders like the horse, and access to him is somewhat limited, but a season to Siphon will be auctioned for charity on Oct. 18.