12/09/2005 12:00AM

Two nice Kentucky-breds earn Zia Park stripes

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - The semi-arid Southwest isn't the first place most people think of when considering a warm-weather racing experience. But the times they are a-changing.

The results from handle and attendance at the newly opened Zia Park in New Mexico clearly indicate that good horses are attracted to good purses, and that results in competitive racing.

For the finale of Zia Park's first season of racing, two Kentucky-breds - Real Dandy and Mr. Trieste - won the Zia Park Derby and the Zia Park Distance Championship, respectively. Both came to Zia Park's initial meeting with earlier stakes victories.

By winning the derby and the Distance Championship at Zia Park, Real Dandy and Mr. Trieste were confirming earlier estimations of their athletic ability.

Both colts were well-intended yearlings who brought solid prices. Neither, however, was especially precocious. Yet given the time to mature and come to their best form, Real Dandy, 3, and Mr. Trieste, 4, have proven themselves to be thoroughly useful competitors.

Real Dandy is a son of the Saint Ballado horse Yankee Victor, whose greatest success on the track was a victory in the Metropolitan Handicap of 2000. Retired to stud at Airdrie in 2001, Yankee Victor sired Real Dandy as part of his first crop of 74 foals, which were born in 2002.

The partnership of Thomas-Lakin-Kintz bred the Zia Park Derby winner from the Jade Hunter mare Berga, and sold Real Dandy as a yearling at the Keeneland September sale in 2003 for $75,000.

Becky Thomas, owner of Sequel Bloodstock and a well-known breeder, noted that the Thomas-Lakin-Kintz partnership bought Berga at the dispersal of Allen Paulson's breeding stock at Keeneland November in 2000 for $95,000.

At the recent Keeneland November breeding stock sale, Thomas and partners sold Berga for $280,000 to Ashwood Trace Far, and her foal of 2005 by Yonaguska to Man o' War Bloodstock for $200,000. When sold, Berga was in foal to first-year sire Strong Hope.

Thomas said that as she and her partners have expanded into standing stallions and owning a more diversified equine business portfolio, "we have added more mares, and because of that, we have had to have more cash flow."

Improving the liquidity of her operation entails selling more horses as weanlings and yearlings, rather than retaining them all for the 2-year-old sale market.

The sale of Berga and her foal were part of the cash-flow program, and the immediate beneficiary is Mike Ryan, who purchased the mare under the Ashwood Trace banner.

"Berga is an average-sized, long-bodied, correct mare who stands over a lot of ground," Ryan said.

He is still considering stallions for her next mating.

Well spotted in his racing, Real Dandy surely is going to raise the commercial profile of his dam. He won the West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer in August and has placed in two other graded stakes in 2005. To date, Real Dandy has won 4 of 19 races, with earnings of $819,935. He is Yankee Victor's leading earner. Yankee Victor stood at Airdrie Stud for $15,000 live foal until he was sold on Friday to the Korean Racing Association.

In contrast to the growing fortunes of Yankee Victor, the sire of Mr. Trieste is the deceased Old Trieste, who stood at Jonabell before his death in January 2003.

A multiple graded-stakes winner whose best victories came in the Swaps Stakes and Del Mar Breeders' Cup Handicap, Old Trieste stood for $25,000.

Old Trieste's best-known racers are Breeders' Cup Sprint winner Silver Train and Minister Eric, who won the San Fernando Stakes and ran second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile.

Minister Eric and Mr. Trieste are among the 44 foals in Old Trieste's first crop. Mr. Trieste was actually the first winner for Old Trieste, who raced for Gary Biszantz's Cobra Farm.

Cobra Farm bred Mr. Trieste in Kentucky from the Silver Deputy mare Angel's Tearlet, and Mr. Trieste is her first foal. The colt sold for $160,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Kentucky select yearling sale in 2002 and went into training with Ken McPeek.

After winning his second start, Mr. Trieste ran a half-dozen times in good Midwestern allowance races, with four finishes in the money. Then, Mr. Trieste was dropped into a claiming race at Ellis Park for his ninth career start and was claimed out of a victory there by current owner Richard Lueck for $30,000 in 2004.

Second in his first start for Lueck, Mr. Trieste has not lost again, and began his run of successes with the non-black-type Albuquerque Derby in September of last year.

Last weekend, the colt won his eighth consecutive race when he drew off to a four-length victory in the Zia Park Distance Championship. His winning streak has come while racing on the tracks of the sunny Southwest. He won two previous races at Zia Park in October and November.

To date, Mr. Trieste has won 10 of his 18 races and earned $331,292. He is unbeaten in five starts in 2005, including four stakes victories.

Mr. Trieste has a 3-year-old full brother named Prince Trieste.

Angel's Tearlet has a 2-year-old filly by Woodman named Tearful, a yearling colt by Elusive Quality, a weanling colt of 2005 by Grand Slam, and is in foal for 2006 to Pleasantly Perfect.