05/28/2006 11:00PM

Silver Train reaffirms love of track with Met Mile win

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Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Silver Train and Edgar Prado hold off a late-charging Sun King to win Monday's Met Mile.

ELMONT, N.Y. - It was a happy homecoming for Silver Train, who returned to his favorite surface and to the winner's circle in Monday's Grade 1, $600,000 at Belmont Park.

Racing at Belmont for the first time since winning last year's Breeders' Cup Sprint, Silver Train took over from pacesetter Mass Media just outside the eighth pole, opened up a clear lead in deep stretch, and just held off a late-running Sun King to win the Met Mile by a head. It was 2 3/4 lengths back to Mass Media in third.

Bandini, who was bumped at the start, finished fourth. Wilko, Sir Greeley, and New York Hero completed the order of finish.

The result further confirmed Silver Train's affinity for Belmont. He is now 4 for 6 at Belmont, including three graded stakes victories, and 1 for 8 everywhere else. Because of his success at Belmont, Dutrow had circled the Met Mile for Silver Train last fall.

"How often do you see things work out like that?" Dutrow said. "I'm talking about the Met Mile after the Breeders' Cup win, and it happened. There were a lot of question marks about this horse out there, but he just loves this track. That's why we got the job done today."

Silver Train came into the Met off two subpar efforts. He finished seventh of nine in the Richter Scale Breeders' Cup Handicap at Gulfstream in March and second of three in an allowance race at Aqueduct last month.

Dutrow said Bobby Frankel, the trainer of Mass Media, told him Mass Media would be sent to the front from the rail. Indeed, Javier Castellano sent Mass Media to the lead, and Edgar Prado had Silver Train just off his flank through fractions of 22.78 seconds and 44.84. Silver Train drew on even terms at the five-sixteenths pole and began to edge away after six furlongs in 1:08.90.

Sun King, who was last through the opening half-mile, came with a late run that just fell short. Silver Train, a son of Old Trieste owned by Buckram Oak Farm, covered the mile in 1:34.27 and returned $6.60. He was a slight favorite over Bandini.

Nick Zito, the trainer of Sun King, had mixed emotions.

"I guess if we had to lose, we lost to the right horse," Zito said. "But it's frustrating."

Dutrow said he may try to stretch Silver Train out to 1 1/4 miles in the Grade 1, $400,000 Suburban Handicap here on July 1.