07/07/2005 11:00PM

Lycius proving a valuable import


The profile of New York sire Lycius continues to rise in the wake of Palladio's victory in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby last weekend.

Palladio, who added the $350,000 Ohio Derby to his score in the Victoria Park Stakes three weeks earlier at Woodbine, is the 30th known stakes winner for Lycius.

He is also the 13th group or graded stakes winner for the stallion, whose progeny earnings are more than $1 million for 2005 and more than $13.7 million for his career.

Palladio's first-place check for the Ohio Derby was $210,000, sending his earnings to $362,386 with a record of 4-0-1 in eight starts.

A son of Mr. Prospector, Lycius stands at Mill Creek Farm in Stillwater, N.Y., for a fee of $6,000 live foal.

Lycius, winner of the Group 1 Middle Park Stakes and classic-placed during his racing career in Europe, earned more than $500,000 racing in top company.

Out of the Lyphard mare Lypatia, he is a half-brother to three stakes winners, including Akabir, winner of the Grade 2 Dixie Handicap, and Tereshkova, winner of the Group 3 Prix de Cabourg in France.

Lycius was formerly owned by Sheikh Mohammed al Maktoum, and stood in Ireland before coming to the United States in 1999.

He is now owned by Steve Belkin, an entrepreneur and philanthropist in Boston, and has been at Mill Creek Farm since the 2002 breeding season.

Belkin has started 26 companies during his career, and his first, TNT Vacations, is taught as a case study at Harvard Business School. He employs more than 200 people at his Trans National Group.

A trustee of the Boston Medical Center, Belkin recently became the majority owner of both the Atlanta Hawks of the NBA and Atlanta Thrashers of the NHL.

Belkin, through his B. E. Stables, has raced graded stakes winners such as Buffalo Dan and Ammy Hils.

According to the manager of B. E. Stables, Donna Janis, Belkin has shifted his emphasis to breeding and stallions in recent years.

"We were attracted to Lycius because he sires class, stamina, and speed," said Janis. "We felt bringing him to the United States would give his progeny a chance on dirt. We feel justified now that Palladio and his other American runners have stepped up and shown those factors."

So, too, with Hello, the diminutive son of Lycius who won the Grade 3 Generous Stakes as a 2-year-old and placed in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Derby the following season in California.

Hello was a champion in Italy, as was Lycius's daughter Slap Shot, a champion in three seasons who also placed in the Group 1 Prix de l'Abbaye de Longchamp.

Lycius is also gaining stature as a broodmare sire.

Stakes winners produced by his daughters include Nebraska Tornado, a multiple Group 1 winner in France; Flower Alley, winner of the Grade 2 Lane's End Stakes; and Cactus Ridge, the unbeaten juvenile who won the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Futurity in 2003.

Flower Alley, a prominent 3-year-old this season, finished second in the Grade 2 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park last weekend.

The first crop of New York-sired runners by Lycius are 2-year-olds of 2005.

Trainer Gary Contessa went to $95,000 to acquire a New York-bred filly by Lycius at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Company 2-year-olds in training sale in March. She is out of the Cozzene mare Cozzekiki, who is a half-sister to New York-bred Raffie's Majesty.

Raffie's Majesty finished third to Coronado's Quest and Victory Gallop in the Grade 1 Travers Stakes in 1998.

"We came to New York because of the awards program," said Janis. "We felt the people who managed the program understand racing and know how to promote it. Looking at all the programs, we could have moved him anywhere. But hands down, New York was the choice."

Anne Morgan, the manager of Mill Creek Farm, is expecting nearly 40 foals by Lycius this year.

She and Janis agree that Lycius has been a bit under the radar screen, having been perceived as a turf sire.

"The people who come to see him really love him," said Morgan. "They are impressed that he is a very correct Mr. Prospector with a physical presence. His foals have an intelligent eye, coupled with incredible balance as babies."

In addition to Palladio, Lycius is represented by stakes winner Glorious Prospect and stakes-placed Tikram in 2005.