07/15/2003 11:00PM

Silver Bid fresh, in top form

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CHICAGO - Silver Bid is not the kind of horse that knows when to say when. Put a saddle on this guy and take him to the racetrack - morning or afternoon - and he's ready to rumble. His competitive fire is admirable - up to a point. Then, it starts to do damage.

"You look at his workouts and you'll see a lot of bullets," said Joel Berndt, who trains the 5-year-old Silver Bid for Gene Young and Terry Renfrow when the horse races in Chicago. When he runs at Fairmount Park, Young takes over the training. "It has taken us this long, but he puts so much into his morning gallops and works. Before his last race, we didn't work him at all."

A fresher and brighter Silver Bid turned in one of the best performances of his career here July 5. Silver Bid, an Illinois-bred, beat open allowance horses by 3 1/2 lengths, zipping six furlongs in 1:09.20.

"Oh yeah, it was a little bit surprising," Berndt said.

With Berndt's newfound focus on slowing down Silver Bid's training, the horse is a serious threat to win his second straight open company race in Arlington's Friday feature, another six-furlong optional claiming sprint.

While many horses wilt in the mid-summer heat, Silver Bid relishes warm weather. He's at his best racing during July and August at Arlington, his favorite track. "He likes the harder track up there than at Hawthorne or Fairmount," Berndt said.

Silver Bid, with jockey Carlos Montalvo, will have to be at this best once again. In addition to racing at a distance - 6 1/2 furlongs - perhaps a tick beyond his best, he faces five talented rivals, including a Louie Roussel-trained entry of Gold Taker and Bright Valour. And even if only one of those two starts, Roussel could have the favorite.

Gold Taker is the only horse in the race with the early speed to match Silver Bid, and he led all the way easily winning a 5 1/2-furlong allowance race over slightly lesser competition in his last start.

Bright Valour ran a flat race when he finished sixth in the Hanshin Handicap in his last start, but beat similar horses in a pair of allowance wins earlier this year. A one-run closer at this trip, Bright Valour needs an honest early pace for his best chance.