11/27/2001 12:00AM

Unbridled juveniles excel

Email

LAS VEGAS - Racing and breeding was dealt a severe blow this year with the death of superstar stallion Unbridled and his daughters, 1998 champion 3-year-old filly Banshee Breeze and Exogenous, a leading candidate for champion 3-year-old filly this year.

As a racehorse and stallion, Unbridled was a star, and his death at 14 on Oct. 18 is a crippling blow to a U.S. breeding industry that has been devoid of stamina influences for decades. There are some stout bloodlines heavily slanted toward turf racing, but there are few stallions with an ability to impart stamina on dirt. With only seven foal crops to race, Unbridled achieved astounding success and had a reputation for siring large animals like himself that improved with maturity and distance.

Unbridled got off to a great start at stud with his first crop, which featured Unbridled's Song and Grindstone. Despite physical problems, Unbridled's Song displayed rare talent, won the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, and is a prominent young stallion. Grindstone emulated his sire by winning the Kentucky Derby and is also a young sire. Unbridled's second crop include Ladies Handicap winner Unbridled Hope. Banshee Breeze and the amazon stakes-winning filly Manistique are members of his third crop. Unbridled's powerhouse 1997 crop include champion 2-year-old Anees, Preakness Stakes winner Red Bullet, Travers Stakes winner Unshaded, Tampa Bay Derby winner Wheelaway, and Philip H. Iselin Handicap winner Broken Vow.

The loss of Unbridled was underscored last weekend when his undefeated 2-year-old daughter Belterra won the Golden Rod Stakes at Churchill Downs and his 2-year-old colt Saarland won the Remsen Stakes at Aqueduct.

Belterra was especially impressive in victory. In only her third race and first over a sloppy surface, Belterra looked completely professional, rating behind the speed, angling out five wide on the turn, and drawing away to an authoritative 4 1/2-length victory over Alcibiades Stakes winner Take Charge Lady, who was the narrow favorite over Belterra.

Tempera is the likely 2-year-old filly champion based on her Breeders' Cup Juvenile victory, but Belterra is a budding star and must now be considered a legitimate threat for the premier races for 3-year-old fillies next year - the Kentucky Oaks, Coaching Club American Oaks, and Alabama Stakes. Belterra's female family produced champion grass mare Miss Alleged.

When Unbridled was moved to Claiborne Farm a few years ago, it was only natural that the Phipps family, whose broodmares have resided at the legendary farm for decades, would breed to Unbridled. Saarland is a result of mating one of their prized broodmares, Versailles Treaty, to Unbridled. Versailles Treaty won the Alabama Stakes and finished second in the Breeders' Cup Distaff twice, in 1991 behind champion Dance Smartly, and in 1992 behind champion Paseana. Considering his pedigree, Saarland was not expected to be a force at 2, and his late development bodes well for his 3-year-old year. He may not have the brilliance of Johannesburg or the turn of foot of Repent, but he possesses a pedigree full of quality that is meant to be most effective at 1 1/4 miles.

Good weekend for freshman sires

Freshman sires Louis Quatorze, Pulpit, and Smoke Glacken had a good weekend. Louis Quatorze's most exciting juvenile, Repent, overcame trouble to win the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. Heavily favored off his excellent second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, Repent saved ground for most of the 1 1/16-mile stakes, checked approaching the half-mile pole, and found himself behind a wall of horses. When the rail path opened in mid-stretch, Repent shot through and pulled away easily. Repent proved in this race that he can handle adversity and a sloppy track.

Also running into trouble but not faring quite as well was Silent Fred, another son of Louis Quatorze who finished third in the Remsen Stakes behind Saarland and Nokoma. Silent Fred, a half-brother to stakes winner Unbridled Hope was making a bold bid in deep stretch when he checked right behind Nokoma. Silent Fred was coming off a maiden victory over repeat winner, Orchard Park (Hennessy).

Nokoma was making only his third start and also was coming off a maiden victory. His sire, Pulpit, is also the sire of stakes winner Essence of Dubai, and his runners are beginning to assert themselves as they stretch out in distance. Nokoma comes from a prolific female family that has been very much in the news lately. Nokoma is a half-brother to Blue Avenue, the dam of Kurofune, winner of last Sunday's Japan Cup Dirt (where Lido Palace was unplaced) and Astarita Stakes winner Bella Bellucci, who finished third in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Nokoma is also a half-brother to stakes winner Brought to Mind.

As champion sprinter, Smoke Glacken's runners were expected to be precocious and fast, and his first crop came out sizzling this year. Smok'n Frolic was one of his early runners, winning a maiden race in May, and then capturing the Fashion Stakes despite stumbling at the start. She found one mile no problem when she easily won the Tempted Stakes, and last Saturday she scored a 4 1/2-length wire-to-wire victory in the Demoiselle Stakes at 1 1/8 miles.

Runners by Louis Quatorze and Pulpit were expected to excel at distances over one mile, and while Smok'n Frolic's ability to get 1 1/8 miles is a surprise, it just may be that she is more advanced than her rivals at this stage of their careers.

Smoke Glacken's runners should still be most effective up to 1 1/16 miles.