10/21/2009 11:00PM

Siblings turned out to be keepers


In the fall of 2006, five months after his father, B. Giles Brophy, had died, Eric Brophy was contemplating his future as an owner-breeder in Thoroughbred racing.

The younger Brophy had put the majority of his breeding and racing stock in the Keeneland November sale but made a last-minute decision to pull one mare out of the auction. The mare was the unraced Silverbobbin, who on Saturday will be represented by two of her progeny on the New York Showcase Day card at Belmont Park.

Slevin, a son of Belong to Me and a runner-up in three stakes for New York-bred 3-year-olds this summer, is a contender in the day's biggest race, the $250,000 Empire Classic. Silvercup Baby, a 5-year-old daughter of American Chance and a two-time stakes winner, will seek her biggest payday in the $125,000 Iroquois for filly and mare sprinters. Both horses are trained by Carl Domino.

"Obviously, it's pretty lucky," Brophy, 44, said. `"Anybody involved in this game, you feel like there are so many down moments that if you hang around long enough there are some cool things that are going to happen. It's definitely a lot of fun. I hope they run well. There are good horses in both those races, but just to make it to this point is pretty exciting."

Brophy, a former employee at Bear Stearns, was introduced to racing by his father, who was part-owner of 1991 Kentucky Derby winner Strike the Gold. The elder Brophy and Domino teamed to win the 1994 Empire Classic - when the race was worth only $75,000 - with Itaka.

"I got into the whole thing through him," Brophy said. "It was a father-son bonding thing. In his later years, when his health wasn't doing well, it was a nice way for us to connect.''

B. Giles Brophy is actually listed as the breeder of Silvercup Baby, a 5-year-old daughter of American Chance. At the time of that Keeneland November sale, Silvercup Baby had yet to start but had been training well enough for Brophy to want to keep her, so he didn't put her in the sale. He also decided to keep Silverbobbin, who in addition to Silvercup Baby had another horse in training that displayed ability, though that one never made it to the races.

"When I put them all in, I wasn't exactly sure what I was going to keep and what I was going to sell," Brophy said. "I said, 'I think I can handle keeping [Silverbobbin].' "

Brophy said he also had Slevin up for sale, but that horse brought a bid of only $16,000, just short of his reserve of $18,000.

Silvercup Baby finished second in each of her first three starts before winning a maiden race at Aqueduct in February 2007. After a bit of a layoff, Silvercup Baby won the Touch of Love Stakes at Belmont by a head in June. She emerged from that race with a cracked shin that kept her away from the races for a year.

Upon her return in June 2008, Silvercup Baby showed a lot of speed in her races but would tire. Earlier this year, she began to relax more, and it has paid off with three wins from her last five starts. That includes a one-length victory in the Union Avenue Stakes at Saratoga on Aug. 24. Domino said he is hoping that style helps her get seven furlongs.

"There's probably going to be a good pace," said Domino. "That shouldn't hurt her."

A couple of hours after Silvercup Baby runs, Slevin will seek to take down the Empire Classic. Twice offered for $50,000 in claiming races during the winter, Slevin has matured into a stakes-caliber gelding. He finished second in all three races that make up the Big Apple Triple Series: the Mike Lee at seven furlongs at Belmont, the New York Derby at 1 1/16 miles at Finger Lakes, and the 1 1/8-mile Albany Stakes at Saratoga.

In the New York Derby, Slevin was stuck along the rail and couldn't get out; otherwise, his connections felt he could have won. In the Albany, Slevin simply fell a neck short to Fiddlers Afleet, who came back to win the Oklahoma Derby earlier this month.

"He was getting to that horse, but if you don't win, it don't matter," Domino said.

Following the Albany, Slevin won a first-level New York-bred allowance race, overcoming a stumbling start and some crowding in upper stretch to get the victory. Though Slevin is a 3-year-old taking on older horses such as Future Prospect, Ruffino, and Naughty New Yorker, Domino said he feels his horse has matured through the year.

"As a younger horse, he was really little," Domino said. "Right now it seems like he's changing; even since Saratoga he's gotten a little rangier looking. But he's doing well. That's the most important thing."

Rain is in the forecast for Saturday, which may not be all bad for Slevin and Silvercup Baby, who have won on off tracks. For Domino, having siblings run in stakes races on the same day is nice, but, he said, "It'd be even nicer if we can win them both."

Slevin and Silvercup Baby are not the only siblings expected to run on Showcase Day. Full siblings Dr. V's Magic and Raffie's Treasure are also expected to run Saturday. Dr. V's Magic, a 5-year-old winner of the 2007 Empire Classic, is seeking a second victory in that race. Raffie's Treasure, a 4-year-old full sister to Dr. V's Magic, is expected to run in the Iroquois.

Both horses are by Raffie's Majesty out of the mare Treasure Always, and both are bred and owned by Majesty Stud. Dominic Galluscio trains both horses.