06/15/2002 12:00AM

Seeking Daylight impressive in Brooklyn


ELMONT, N.Y. - Seeking Daylight, who missed his entire 3-year-old campaign recovering from a broken leg, began to make up for lost time Saturday when he romped to an

8 1/4-length victory in the Grade 2, $250,000 before 6,306 at Belmont Park.

Country Be Gold, a 23-1 shot, rallied from last to get second by a neck over 40-1 shot Griffinite. It was another half-length back to 6-5 favorite E Dubai.

Over a sloppy, speed-favoring track, Seeking Daylight covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:46.35, equaling the stakes record for the distance set by Formal Gold in 1997 and matched by Running Stag in 1999. This was the 34th time in the 114-year history of the Brooklyn that it was run at nine furlongs.

"He's always been a nice horse," trainer Mark Hennig said. "He got hurt and missed his 3-year-old year or he might have had something to say in that division."

Seeking Daylight ($15.20), a half-brother to graded stakes winners Hedonist and Zaha, won his first two starts before breaking his cannon bone in January 2001. Dr. Stephen Selway surgically repaired the leg, and Seeking Daylight returned to the races in February. He had a win and a second in four starts before the Brooklyn and was coming off a fourth-place finish in last month's Westchester Handicap.

Jockey Edgar Prado, who felt he had Seeking Daylight too close to a fast pace in the Westchester, kept his colt in fifth position, but only a couple of lengths off Dayton Flyer, who set fractions of 22.33 seconds and 45.09 seconds. Seeking Daylight advanced into contention around the turn, tipped four-wide turning for home, and accelerated under only mild encouragement.

Hennig said Seeking Daylight would be considered for the $500,000 Suburban Handicap on July 4.

* Van Minister, the longest shot in the field of five, rallied from last to run down even-money favorite Miesque's Approval in deep stretch and win the Grade 3, $109,300 Hill Prince Stakes by a half-length. It was 1 1/2 lengths back to Westcliffe in a field reduced to five by three scratches.

Mike Luzzi kept Van Minister ($28.20) in last behind a dawdling pace of 25.81 seconds, 51.69, and 1:17.32 established by Smoked Em. Miesque's Approval, making his first start last Nov. 24, took the lead at the three-eighths pole, repelled a challenge by Westcliffe in midstretch, but could not hold off Van Minister.

Van Minister, a 3-year-old owned by Our Sugar Bear Stable and trained by Carlos Martin, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:54.42 over soft turf.