06/02/2006 12:00AM

Met Mile win punches Silver Train's ticket to Vinery


LEXINGTON, Ky. - When colts are being assessed as stallion prospects, no racing quality is more highly regarded than being a tip-top miler. And the race of choice for conferring that distinction in the U.S. is the Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont Park.

It should surprise nobody, then, that Silver Train, winner of the Met Mile on Monday, will be going to stud at Vinery for the 2007 breeding season. The timing of the deal is similar to one made last year, when a portion of the breeding rights in 2004 Horse of the Year Ghostzapper was sold to Jess Jackson. Ben McElroy, co-general manager of Vinery, confirmed that the farm had purchased the breeding rights to Silver Train and probably will syndicate him as a stallion.

Last year, Ghostzapper won his only start of 2005 in the Met Mile, and his fee as a stallion - after an unbeaten championship season in 2004 - was set at $200,000 live foal. The stud fee for Silver Train, who was the 2005 Breeders' Cup Sprint winner, will be determined by the end of the year, McElroy said.

"It would be very speculative to say anything about the likely stud fee right now," McElroy said. "From what he has already accomplished, he will be above the $20,000 range, but anything further will depend on how he finishes out the year."

A 4-year-old son of the A.P. Indy stallion Old Trieste and the Cormorant mare Hidden in Thestars, Silver Train has won twice at the Grade 1 level. These are the races that make stallions, that bring the winners to the attention of a national audience of breeders, and that help to ensure a large book of good mares.

Even before his Met Mile victory, Silver Train was a serious stallion prospect because of his Breeders' Cup success. And the Breeders' Cup is the event that brought him to the attention of Vinery.

"I went down to the saddling paddock to see Lost in the Fog, and this horse was a couple of horses behind him, and I was very taken with him physically," said McElroy.

A number of farms were interested in Silver Train after the Breeders' Cup last fall but were unsuccessful in working out a deal with Buckram Oak, the Florida-based operation owned by Mahmoud Fustok. In February, Fustok was killed when he was accidentally struck by a car. The racing stable of Buckram Oak is being transferred to the ownership of Kassem Masri and will operate under the name of Four Roses Stable. Silver Train will finish his racing career this year under that stable name, then be transferred to Vinery for stud.

"We began negotiations for the horse about a month before the Met Mile and worked with Hansley Albina in the Buckram Oak group to organize the deal, which we completed a couple of weeks before the race," McElroy said.

The acquisition is a "great boost for Vinery," McElroy said. "He will be a welcome addition to our stallion roster. The breeder base in Kentucky likes the miler type. At the sales, if a breeder brings up a nice individual by a stallion with Silver Train's race record, yearlings will bring what they're worth."

A good-looking horse by a stallion who showed great speed racing and training, Silver Train himself brought a good sale price as a yearling. Bred in Kentucky by Mulholland Farm, Silver Train sold at the 2003 Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select sale for $140,000.

Silver Train was one of a series of stakes horses whom Buckram Oak purchased from Mulholland Farm, beginning with Illinois Derby winner Natural Selection, Joe Mulholland Sr. said.

"Silver Train was a good-looking yearling," he said. "We had two by Old Trieste. Both were nice horses, and we were afraid that buyers would look at both, take the one they liked best, and knock the other one. So, we decided to split them up and sell Silver Train at Fasig-Tipton and the other at Keeneland September."

The other colt brought $425,000, also bought by Buckram Oak.

Mulholland, 83, bred Silver Train in partnership with his sons Joe Jr. and John. They came to breed Silver Train after Joe Mulholland Jr., the farm's conformation man, selected the broodmare Ridden in Thestars at the 1998 Keeneland November sale.

"Usually, when we buy a mare we have to pick race record or conformation but can't get both," said Joe Mulholland Jr. "But this mare had both. She's a little light on pedigree, but Cormorant's a good broodmare sire. When I told Dad how much I paid for her, I thought he was going to die."

His father agreed.

"I thought she would bring less, but he paid $90,000 for the mare out of John Mayer's consignment from Nursery Place," said Joe Mulholland. "But she's been worth it, and she's in foal now to Giant's Causeway on an April cover."

Ridden in Thestars has a Johannesburg filly for 2006.

Ridden in Thestars cannot return to Silver Train's sire, Old Trieste, because he died in January 2003 at age 8.

Although Old Trieste died young, he has proven himself one of several good stallions by A.P. Indy, who is becoming increasingly recognized as an important sire of stallions and who also is the sire of this year's Preakness winner, Bernardini. Last year, Vinery purchased Cigar Mile winner Purge (by the A.P. Indy stallion Pulpit) as a stallion prospect, and McElroy said, "Purge was extremely popular, and the sons of A.P. Indy are versatile sires who are getting quality."