01/07/2002 1:00AM

Valid Appeal dead at 30


LEXINGTON, Ky. - Valid Appeal, the pensioned stallion who helped build Mockingbird Farm's homebreeding empire, was euthanized Saturday because of the infirmities of old age at 30. He has been buried at the Mockingbird/Tartan cemetery alongside such greats as Dr. Fager and Dark Mirage.

Farm officials said that though Valid Appeal had enjoyed good health throughout his retirement from the breeding shed, he had begun to decline in recent days.

Valid Appeal, sire of successful young stallion Valid Expectations and 85 other stakes winners, stood at Mockingbird after his retirement from racing in 1976 and was pensioned there in October 1997. When farm owner Harry T. Mangurian, Jr., sold the property to Eugene Melnyk last month, the deal included a provision that Valid Appeal would remain to live out his days in his paddock.

Valid Appeal, by In Reality, was a full brother to 1973's champion 3-year-old filly, Desert Vixen. Valid Appeal had a creditable career at the races, winning his sole stakes in the Grade 2 Dwyer Handicap and placing in four others.

But his lasting influence came through his career as a stallion. Valid Appeal sired Grade 1 winners K.J.'s Appeal, Stormy But Valid, Mighty Appealing, Proud Appeal, and Southern Appeal, among countless other graded stakes-winners. With 21 crops to race so far, Valid Appeal has progeny earnings in excess of $45 million.