04/25/2005 12:00AM

Silent Witness wins 17

Hong Kong Jockey Club
Owner Archie da Silva celebrates Silent Witness's 17th straight victory.

Silent Witness set a modern-era record at Sha Tin on Sunday when he scored his 17th career victory without a loss in the Group 2, $384,600 Queen's Silver Jubilee Cup.

The victory of Silent Witness, accomplished in his first try at a distance as long as seven furlongs, breaks Ribot's undefeated mark of 16 victories, as well as the 16-race winning streaks of Citation and Cigar. Breaking from the rail, Silent Witness led throughout at odds of 1-20, cruising more than three lengths clear at the furlong pole before jockey Felix Coetzee eased up late. Silent Witness, a son of El Moxie, crossed the line 1 3/4 lengths in front of Town of Fionn, getting the seven furlongs on good to firm ground in 1:21.80 for trainer Tony Cruz.

Rumors of a proposed match race at Santa Anita between Silent Witness and Breeders' Cup Classic winner Ghostzapper have been swirling in recent days, but Silent Witness's owner, Archie da Silva, wasn't making any promises.

"We have yet to meet with the American representatives," da Silva said in reference to Ghostzapper's owner, Frank Stronach, "so we don't know what distance it would be at or what surface. If it's turf, we'll beat him, but if it is on dirt, we could run on that, too. Let's wait and see, but nothing has been decided."

All of Silent Witness's 17 victories have come on the Sha Tin turf course between five and seven furlongs. The 6-year-old Australian-bred gelding will go next in the Champions Mile at Sha Tin on May 14. That is the first leg of the Asian Mile Challenge, a two-race series that concludes in Tokyo on June 5 with the Yasuda Kinen.

Also on Sunday's card, another local Hong Kong hero, Vengeance of Rain, took the $1.79 million Queen Elizabeth II Cup at the expense of a top-class international field.

The winner of the Hong Kong Derby last out on March 13, Vengeance of Rain landed the Group 1 QEII Cup by three-quarters of a length over South African invader Greys Inn. Ridden by Anthony Delpech and trained by David Ferraris, Vengeance of Rain, a New Zealand-bred son of Zabeel, was the 9-2 second choice behind Australia's favored Grand Armee, who weakened to finish 11th of 14, beaten 8 1/4 lengths. Dubai Sheema Classic and Hong Kong Cup winner Phoenix Reach was fifth, Singapore International Airlines Cup winner Epalo was seventh, and Dubai Duty Free winner Elvstroem was ninth as the winner covered the 1 1/4 miles in 2:01.80.

Ferraris will keep Vengeance of Rain at home for now, stating that his next outing will come May 29 in the Group 1 Hong Kong Champions & Chater Cup at 1 1/2 miles at Sha Tin.