04/18/2002 11:00PM

Roman Dancer a Triple threat

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The performances by two 3-year-old New York-breds last weekend were an excellent advertisement for the Empire State's breeding program.

Private Emblem, bred by Dr. Doug Koch of Berkshire Stud in Pine Plains, N.Y., and by Oak Cliff Stable, rolled home a 4 1/2-length winner in the $500,000 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park, securing himself a berth in the Kentucky Derby.

A few hours earlier, Roman Dancer, bred by Jerry Nielsen, the president of the New York Thoroughbred Breeders, and his wife, Joanne, won his first graded stakes in Aqueduct's Grade 3 Bay Shore Stakes.

Private Emblem will try to become the first New York-bred to win the Kentucky Derby.

Roman Dancer, who is based in California, is taking a different path.

The Kentucky Derby is an unrealistic target for Roman Dancer - who has run only in sprints this year - said his trainer, Christopher Paasch. Instead, Roman Dancer, an earner of $267,949, is a likely candidate for the Big Apple Triple, a three-race series for 3-year-old New York-breds.

The Big Apple Triple gets under way with the $100,000-added Mike Lee at Belmont Park on June 29. The seven-furlong Mike Lee is followed by the $125,000-added 1 1/16-mile New York Derby at Finger Lakes on July 27 and the nine-furlong $150,000-added Albany at Saratoga on Aug. 21.

Roman Dancer's breeders own a dozen mares that they board at their farm, Sunnyfield, located near Bedford, N.Y. Last year, the Nielsens were recognized as New York's top breeders by the NYTB.

The Nielsens, who also bred Roman Dancer's half-brother, New York-bred grass champion I'm All Yours, usually sell their colts and keep their fillies. In an unusual move for the Nielsens, they sold Roman Dancer, a son of Polish Numbers, as a weanling. Typically, the Nielsens hold on to their sale prospects until they are yearlings, so the horses have more time to mature. But Jerry Nielsen said Roman Dancer was an advanced weanling.

"He was a pretty nice weanling; very well made and very well developed," Jerry Nielsen recalled. "He looked great, but the pedigree wasn't much."

Roman Dancer, who is out of Phalanopsis, a Cormorant mare the Nielsens bred and raced, was sold by the Nielsens for $35,000 as a weanling at Keeneland's November sale. Roman Dancer was sold again as yearling for $60,000 and then was pinhooked as a 2-year-old at Fasig-Tipton's February sale in Florida, where he was acquired for $150,000 by his current owners, Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez.

Phalanopsis will drop a Dixie Brass foal this spring and also has a Crafty Prospector yearling filly. Last year, the Nielsens purchased a daughter of Phalanopsis, Stunt Girl, who is now in foal to Is It True. The unraced Stunt Girl was bred by the Nielsens and sold by them as a yearling.

Phalanopsis's career as a broodmare wasn't exactly on the fast track until she had her fourth foal, I'm All Yours, a restricted stakes winner and earner of $287,630.

Nielsen said, "The funny thing is, I tried to convince my wife it was time to move [Phalanopsis] on, but she always said, 'No, someday she'll have a runner.'"

Stallion Stakes time

The 2002 New York Stallion Stakes start on Sunday at Aqueduct, with runnings of the $100,000 Park Avenue and the $100,000 Times Square. The Park Avenue is for 3-year-old fillies at one mile and the Times Square is for 3-year-old colts and geldings at one mile.

The Stallion Stakes is restricted to the progeny of New York-based stallions, but doesn't require eligible runners to be New York-bred.

In the fall, four Stallion Stakes events are scheduled at Aqueduct. Total purses for this year's series is $650,000.

New registration deadlines

The New York State Thoroughbred Breeding and Development Fund has created new deadlines for stallion registration.

Effective immediately, stallion registration forms are due Dec. 15. The cost remains $250. Registrations postmarked Jan. 1 and later will cost $500. No forms will be accepted after Feb. 15.

Registration for new stallions entering the state will continue to be accepted up to 30 days after the sire's arrival and will cost $250.

Statebreds bring $585,000

Four New York-breds sold for a total of $585,000 at Tuesday's 2-year-old sale at Keeneland.

The highest-priced New York-bred was a Smart Strike filly bought for $250,000 by Canadian trainer Roger Attfield. Bred and consigned by North Wales Farm, the filly is out of Dior's Angel, a graded stakes-placed filly.

The other New York-breds sold were a $200,000 Dixieland Band colt, bred by Barry Schwartz and purchased by Japanese interests; a $100,000 Quiet American filly bought by Dinwiddie Farm; and a $35,000 Cherokee Run filly.