02/26/2004 1:00AM

Silver Wagon out with injury


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The Kentucky Derby trail claimed another victim Thursday when X-rays revealed that Silver Wagon had chips in the upper joint of his left knee. Silver Wagon, who finished third in the Fountain of Youth Stakes, had been pointing for the $1 million Florida Derby on March 13.

Silver Wagon, owned by Mahmoud Fustok's Buckram Oak Farm, became the second Calder-based Kentucky Derby hopeful to be sidelined by injury since competing in the Fountain of Youth on Feb. 14. Second of June, beaten a neck by Read the Footnotes in the Fountain of Youth, came out of the race with a condylar fracture in his cannon bone and underwent surgery the following day.

"He came back fine from his work on Monday and still shows no visible signs of any lameness," said Silver Wagon's trainer, Ralph Ziadie on Thursday. "I do a routine leg check on every one of my horses each morning, and when I checked him yesterday I felt a little pressure and some heat in his left knee. I had my vet X-ray him just to be safe, and that's when we discovered the chips."

Ziadie said subsequent X-rays also revealed a spur in Silver Wagon's right knee.

"We have a couple of options, but the logical choice would be to remove the chips surgically and hopefully have him back later this year," said Ziadie, adding that the decision will be made on Friday after further consultation with Dr. Mark Cheney.

"This is a very big disappointment for me," said Ziadie. "I expected a big race out of Silver Wagon in the Florida Derby. All you can do is accept it and hopefully make the right decisions for the horse's future."