06/16/2002 11:00PM

Seeking Daylight a star on rise


ELMONT, N.Y. - The handicap division, which at one point this season appeared lackluster, took on a notable infusion of quality over the weekend with the victories of Seeking Daylight in Belmont Park's $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap, Street Cry in the $750,000 Stephen Foster at Churchill Downs, and Milwaukee Brew in Hollywood Park's $500,000 Californian Stakes.

These were impressive victories, too. Seeking Daylight, who was not the favorite, won by more than eight lengths. Street Cry, who was not the favorite, won by 6 1/2 lengths. Milwaukee Brew was favored and won by only a head, but hadn't started since upsetting the Santa Anita Handicap three months ago. He confirmed that form with his tally in the Californian.

Seeking Daylight, a 4-year-old colt by Seeking the Gold who is owned and was bred by Edward P. Evans, may have posted the most significant score of the day.

A promising 2-year-old who won both his starts that year with gusto, he fractured a cannon bone in training for his 3-year-old campaign last year and was sidelined for a full year. The surgery, performed by Dr. Stephen Selway, was successful and Seeking Daylight won at a mile at Aqueduct this spring in exciting fashion. That's why his fourth-place finish in the Westchester Handicap, at a mile, was disappointing to his people.

The operation for the repair of the fractured cannon bone, by the way, involved stablizing the cannon bone by the insertion of three screws to hold the bone together. One of the pioneers of this procedure was the late Dr. Jacques Jenney of the University of Pennsylvania. This Swiss-born veterinarian took a leaf from surgeons in his country who were repairing fractures of skiers with the screw technique. Dr. Jenney saved Calumet's Tim Tam with screws after the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner shattered sesamoids in the Belmont Stakes.

We mentioned that there was disappointment in Seeking Daylight's camp when he was beaten in the Westchester.

"Edgar Prado came back after the race and said that the colt wasn't happy about being placed just off the pace," trainer Mark Hennig said. "The Westchester was run like a sprint, with fractions of 22 and change, 44 and change. Seeking Daylight wanted to settle in stride first and then come on. That's how he ran in the Brooklyn, and it was a big performance for him."

Seeking Daylight raced the sloppy nine furlongs of the Brooklyn in 1:46.35, equaling the track record set by Formal Gold in 1997 and matched by Running Stag in 1999. Hennig sees the colt as a true distance type, with a pedigree to support that position. The dam, Play All Day, is also the dam of Hedonist, winner of the 1998 Santa Anita Oaks.

Seeking Daylight is likely to make his next start in the 1 1/4-mile Suburban Handicap on July 6.

"It should be a much tougher race," Hennig said, "but Seeking Daylight came out of the Brooklyn nicely and we're looking forward to the next step along the way."

We're going to hear more and more from the Evans stable in the seasons ahead. He has some 85 broodmares in production, a number of them stakes winners he's raced. Bred to top stallions, they are getting horses who can achieve, like Seeking Daylight.