10/09/2003 11:00PM

Before jumping aboard Eurosilver's bandwagon . . .

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Anyone who saw the way Eurosilver won the 1 1/16-mile Breeders' Futurity at Keeneland has to admit that he was visually impressive. Sixth early, he made a powerful move on the far turn and then swept past the leaders and pulled away to score by 4 3/4 lengths.

Eurosilver is talented, and could become an outstanding runner by the time he becomes a 3-year-old and takes aim on next spring's Triple Crown races. There are a couple of points, however, that haven't yet been made by the observers who have already climbed onto his bandwagon.

First, there is a misconception that Eurosilver deserves added credit for defying the speed bias that is often present at Keeneland. There is only one problem with that - there was no speed bias at Keeneland on Oct. 4. In fact, none of the seven races run on the main track that day was won by a front-runner.

Saint Waki was a closer in eighth place when he stormed home to win a seven- furlong race. Five of the six other main track races, including the Grade 2 Breeders' Futurity, were won from mid-pack. Rupert Herd was fourth of eight at the first call when he won a 1 1/16-mile race. Savannah Hanna was fifth of 12 at the first call when she rallied to win a 6 1/2-furlong sprint. Ellieonthemarch was sixth of 12 at the first call in a 1 1/16-mile race, and may have made her move too soon when she grabbed a one-length lead down the lane and held on to win by a nose. Like Eurosilver and Ellieonthemarch, Pro Prado also won from sixth in a large field when he was victorious in a 6 1/2-furlong race. The only horse who was near the lead at the first call and won was A Little Gold, who was only a head behind the leader and won a seven-furlong race by 6 3/4 lengths.

Eurosilver fans are also overlooking the pace of the Breeders' Futurity. The race was fast early, and slow late. The last 2 1/2 furlongs of the Futurity were covered in 32.96 seconds, while 2-year-old maiden fillies finished up in 32.53 in the race won by Ellieonthemarch. I'm not suggesting that Ellieonthemarch is anywhere near as good as Eurosilver, since the final time of her race was more than three seconds slower. But the slow late fraction in the Futurity set the race up to be won by a closer. In fact, closers dominated the race. The horses who were 6-8-7-9-10 at the first call all capitalized on the favorable pace scenario when they rallied to finish 1-2-3-5-6.

Given a mid-pack trip on a day when most of the winners on the main track won with that same running style, and given help from a slow late fraction that favored closers, Eurosilver enjoyed a near-perfect set-up.

Keeneland has not routinely favored closers at this meet, but it has been much fairer to all running styles than usual. Throw out Oct. 4, and draw a line through Oct. 8, when four of the seven races on the dirt were won by front-runners, and the results from Oct. 3 and Oct. 9 look like most race results on most days at most U.S. tracks. The results on Oct. 5 were fair to all running styles. Horses with early and tactical speed often fared well, but all running styles enjoyed some success.