02/20/2003 12:00AM

Silver Deputy, Will's Way sires of moment

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - Despite freezing temperatures and more than an inch of ice that felled trees and resulted in severe damage to power and telephone lines and miles of board fencing, the stallions at Fred Seitz's Brookdale Farm kept the farm warm with their 3-year-old colts' results this weekend.

Badge of Silver impressively won the Risen Star at Fair Grounds to give his sire, Silver Deputy, a contender in the run-up to the spring classics, and Lion Tamer, who won the Hutcheson Stakes at Gulfstream, became the first stakes winner for multiple Grade 1 winner Will's Way.

Badge of Silver, now unbeaten in three starts, began his career in a 4 1/2-furlong maiden race at Keeneland last April. One of the most impressive maiden winners of the spring meet, drawing off to win by nine lengths, Badge of Silver did not race again until last month, when he won an allowance at Fair Grounds by seven lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 108. He earned the same figure for the Risen Star win.

Considering the colt's relative inexperience, his connections are hoping for better than average improvement in the next 60 days. Should that happen, Badge of Silver will be very tough to stop.

By the sire of champion filly Silverbulletday, Badge of Silver has shown some of the filly's qualities - high speed and early maturity - and clearly is not inconvenienced by 1 1/16 miles.

In addition to sharing speed and class, Badge of Silver exists in part because of Silverbulletday. Ric Waldman, syndicate manager for Silver Deputy and his sire Deputy Minister, said, "Silverbulletday was the one who really put Silver Deputy on the map as a sire of national influence, and after she ran, the foals of 2000 were the first ones bred from significantly better mares."

Silver Deputy did not start off with elite mares. Even so, Silver Deputy made an enormous splash as a freshman sire, holding the lead most of the year until nosed out by Forty Niner near the end of the year.

The performance of his initial crops, from books of mares that were not from the top of the tree, made believers of enough breeders that the young stallion made his way south to Kentucky, where he covered books of useful mares until Silverbulletday made him a star.

Silverbulletday also showed that Silver Deputy's progeny were not limited to shorter distances, as the Kentucky Oaks and Alabama were among her four Grade 1 wins. Archers Bay, out of a mare by French classic winner Val de l'Orne, won a pair of Canadian classics.

Waldman said, "Clearly, they'll go farther than people thought they would, but the female family has a lot to do with that, as well as how they are trained."

Badge of Silver's pedigree offers every hope that he will be able to carry his ability classic distances, as he is out of the Silver Hawk mare Silveroo. Silver Hawk was a classic horse by Roberto who ran second in the Irish Derby and third in the English Derby at 12 furlongs. In addition, Badge of Silver's second dam is by High Tribute, a son of Prince John.

Bred in Kentucky by the partnership of Oratis Thoroughbreds, Liberation Farm, and Trackside Farm, Badge of Silver is the third and last foal of his dam, who died after colic complications.

The partners sold Badge of Silver at the 2001 Keeneland September yearling sale, where Ken and Sarah Ramsey paid $85,000 for him.

Silver Deputy is a firmly established stallion, who has sired seven champions. On the other hand, Will's Way, the sire of Lion Tamer, is only beginning his career at stud. Not an early-maturing horse himself, Will's Way (by Easy Goer-Willamae, by Tentam) showed excellent form winning the Travers and Whitney, and his offspring are taking time to develop.

Breeders, ever in tune with the demands of the sales market, are not known for waiting on stallions. Following Lion Tamer's race, however, Brookdale Farm owner Fred Seitz said, "We are picking up a few more mares. It's improving dramatically." That is what one top horse can do for a young stallion.

"Typically [Will's Way's] offspring are medium-sized, well-balanced, and athletic horses," said Seitz. "They are very smooth individuals and very good movers."

At the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July select yearling sale a year and a half ago, Lion Tamer created quite a stir, as bidder John Fort went to $180,000 to secure the colt. Lion Tamer later sold privately to Michael Tabor.

Bred in Kentucky by Paul Smith, Lion Tamer was the highest-priced yearling by his sire.