01/08/2007 1:00AM

Silvertand, breeder, dies


John Martin Silvertand, breeder of the 2005 Preakness and Belmont Stakes winner, Afleet Alex, died in Florida at age 61 after a lengthy battle with cancer. He died Sunday in West Palm Beach, according to the Palm Beach Post.

Silvertand gave credit for the mating that produced Afleet Alex to John Devers and Jim Hatchett, who bred Northern Afleet to Maggy Hawk in a foal-share agreement. But by the time Afleet Alex was born on May 9, 2002, Devers had sold Maggy Hawk to Silvertand, making Silvertand Afleet Alex's breeder of record. As part of their agreement, Devers and Silvertand jointly owned the colt at his birth, with the ultimate owner to be decided on a coin toss. Devers won the toss and sold Afleet Alex privately as a weanling.

In the same year Afleet Alex was foaled, doctors told Silvertand that he had terminal liver cancer. Silvertand credited Afleet Alex's emergence as a Triple Crown race contender with extending his life.

"It's certainly helped keep me focused," he said in June 2005.

Afleet Alex also finished third in the 2005 Kentucky Derby and was named that season's champion 3-year-old.

Silvertand was a native of England, where his family developed Southwell racecourse. Funeral arrangements were pending.