09/09/2005 12:00AM

Silver Tango still as good as gold


Phil Capuano's homebred Dale's Prospect, trained by Capuano's son Dale, capped off an eventful week with a rousing victory in the Taking Risks Stakes on Labor Day at the Timonium State Fair.

The first stakes victory for Dale's Prospect came just seven days after the 4-year-old chestnut gelding finished fourth in an overnight stakes at Delaware Park. But the chart of that race doesn't tell the whole story. Dale's Prospect lost a shoe and slipped, nearly going down.

"Jeremy Rose thought he broke down and was going to pull him up," Phil Capuano said. "But when Dale's Prospect started running again, Jeremy went on with him. Watching the tape of the race, it looks like the horse nearly did a split. I don't know how Jeremy stayed on."

Still, Dale's Prospect finished less than five lengths behind the winner.

Although Dale's Prospect was nominated to the Taking Risks at Timonium, the prospect of coming back quickly seemed unlikely. He had damaged his hoof after losing the shoe. Capuano credits longtime blacksmith Ronald Magill with basically creating a new foot for the horse.

"He worked magic," Capuano said of Magill.

After a few days of taking care of the foot and watching Dale's Prospect jog at his Bowie base, Capuano, who supervises his son's Bowie shed row, found Dale's Prospect to be "100 percent sound."

Sent off as the 3-5 favorite in the Taking Risks, Dale's Prospect got up to win by a neck over Hands On in the 6 1/2-furlong stakes for Maryland-breds.

A son of Pioneering, Dale's Prospect was unraced at 2 after fracturing a cannon bone, but has been on the board in 13 of 16 starts since his winning debut on June 27, 2004, collecting 7 wins and earning $191,264.

Dale's Prospect is the latest success from the fortuitous 1990 purchase of Silver Tango, one of the Capuanos' all-time best runners. Capuano spotted the filly in the Fasig-Tipton Midlantic open 2-year-olds in training sale, but missed the daughter of Silver Badge in the sales ring. Bred by Jeanne Begg, Silver Tango didn't meet her reserve, however, and Capuano was able to buy her privately for $3,800.

Capuano had tremendous success with another Silver Badge offspring, the $693,524-earner Silano, who was trained by Dale. This time, Phil gave a boost to his son Gary Capuano's career by giving him Silver Tango to train.

Silver Tango won her maiden in her only start at 2, then proceeded to win 5 of her next 6 starts, including four stakes, before appearing in Pimlico's Black-Eyed Susan Stakes.

"Someone offered to buy her before the race," said Capuano. "But the track came up muddy, and she exited the race with chips in both knees."

The deal was off.

After surgery, Silver Tango returned to race three more years. She made a total of 47 starts, won 17 races, 10 in stakes, and earned $473,242. But more importantly, she has become a solid producer for the Capuanos.

"All her foals are good looking and correct," noted Capuano.

Silver Tango's first foal, a daughter of Unbridled named Untangled, was sold as a yearling for $160,000. Untangled showed promise but was injured before getting to the races. As a broodmare, she has produced Full, a champion in Panama.

Silver Tango is also the dam of stakes-placed Scarlet Tango, a French Deputy filly. Silver Tango has 10 foals, including a yearling colt by Lil E. Tee and a weanling filly by Black Tie Affair, both bred in Dale Capuano's name. Phil Capuano sent Silver Tango back to Pennsylvania stallion Lite the Fuse this year, and plans to foal her back in that state.

The Capuanos were also instrumental in the success of Silver Tango's half-sister Sentimental Tango (by Sentimental Slew), purchased by Phil Capuano as a yearling in 1991 for $4,800.

"She was so crooked, Gary didn't really want her," said Phil Capuano. "But he decided to take her."

Sentimental Tango then was offered to a client, Gerald Dickens, and proceeded to win 3 of her first 5 starts at 2, including the Smart Angle Stakes.

Dickens eventually sold Sentimental Tango and her first foal, a yearling filly by Broad Brush, to Milton P. Higgins III. The filly, Merengue, became a graded stakes winner of $334,070. Merengue's 2003 foal, a colt by Point Given, was sold by his breeders, Higgins and Dr. Thomas Bowman, for $290,000 as a yearling last year. The coltwas sold again at the Barretts 2-year-old sale in March for $750,000. Merengue's current yearling, a colt by Elusive Quality, is set to sell on Monday, the first night of Keeneland's September yearling sale.