09/02/2004 11:00PM

Watch Negotiator on surface switch


Because the stallion Sunday Silence stands in Japan, his offspring rarely race in North America. In fact, since 1999, only one of Sunday Silence's progeny has won a race in either the United States or Canada.

So it was a rare treat for fans at Delaware Park on Tuesday, when Negotiator, a 3-year-old colt sired by 1989 Breeders' Cup Classic winner Sunday Silence, made his first start since joining trainer Graham Motion's barn.

Unfortunately for those who made Negotiator the 5-2 favorite in a field of eight first-level allowance runners, he broke a step slowly and never was in contention.

He rallied mildly along the rail to finish fifth, beaten 6 1/4 lengths.

Considering the race was at six furlongs on the dirt, Motion said he was not discouraged. It merely confirmed his suspicion Negotiator prefers a longer distance race on turf.

"He was fairly well behaved, which was a concern of mine, and he started to pick it up a bit in the stretch," Motion said. "Plus, it was his first race since January and it was a good effort to take the rust off.

"It was obvious to me he did not like running on the main track or the distance. In Japan, his better efforts were on the grass. I think he should improve going longer on the grass. So, the next time he runs it will likely be going two turns on the grass."

In Japan, Negotiator won his maiden going a mile on turf in his career debut last September. But he failed to finish better than fourth in any of his next five starts, three on the grass and two on dirt, and owner Koji Maeda decided the horse might fare better in the United States.

"His agent in America, Steve Jackson, suggested sending him to me," Motion said. "They wanted to try him in America because his form in Japan had tailed off and they thought that a change of scenery might help him."

Silver Flower sticks to sprints

Motion often likes to stretch out his maiden winners to routes. But don't expect him to do that with Silver Flower, a 3-year-old first-time starter who won a six-furlong race by 3 1/2 lengths as the 6-5 favorite on Aug. 28.

Silver Flower, a son of Silver Deputy, covered the six furlongs on a fast track in 1:10.71 and earned a 77 Beyer Speed Figure.

"For now, I am going to keep him sprinting," said Motion, adding he intends to look for a suitable allowance race for Silver Flower. "He has shown considerable speed in the morning when I have worked him. I am not in a hurry to stretch him out at this point."

Silver Deputy has sired some successful longer distance horses, notably Silverbulletday, a champion filly at 2 and 3, and Archers Bay, a champion 3-year-old in Canada. But Silver Flower's dam, Cottage Flower, has produced foals whose success has been limited to sprints. The best of her foals, 4-year-old filly Elhew Midway, has won four races, all in sprints at six furlongs or less.