11/30/2001 12:00AM

Wildenstein's impact is still felt


JAMAICA, N.Y. - Like a final salute for a job well done, statistics for the French racing season of 2001 honor the late Daniel Wildenstein as that country's leading owner, the ninth time he earned that distinction.

Wildenstein, an art dealer with an international business who died a few weeks ago in Paris, built one of the world's great racing stables and raced some of the greatest champions of our time. One of the finest was the American-bred Allez France, a remarkable filly by Sea-Bird who won such stakes as the Arc de Triomphe, the French Oaks, and the French 1,000 Guineas. Then there was another exceptional Wildenstein filly, Pawneese, trained by Angel Penna, who won the Epsom Oaks, the French Oaks, and beat the colts in the King George and Queen Elizabeth Stakes at Ascot.

Wildenstein's Sagace finished first in consecutive Arc de Triomphes but was disqualified in a controversial ruling and placed second in the 1985 running. Another great filly, and like Allez France and Pawneese a French horse of the year, was All Along. Winner of the important Prix Vermeille at 3, she came to North America in the fall of 1983 after winning the Arc, and won the Turf Classic at Belmont, the Rothmans International at Woodbine, and the Washington D.C. International at Laurel and was voted Horse of the Year in America, too.

Wildenstein had 135 horses in training this year, including two in California with Bobby Frankel. One of them, a filly named Rolly Polly, won the Safely Kept Handicap at Hollywood Park last week. There are some 55 of Wildenstein's yearlings preparing to come to the races next season, including some from the first crop of Wildenstein's Peintre Celebre, whose 1997 victory in the Arc de Triomphe is considered one of the best performances since Sea-Bird.

In addition to his Thoroughbred interests, Wildenstein was also involved in French steeplechasing and was France's leading owner over jumps 14 times. He also maintained an extensive Standardbred stable, which was prominent in French trotting. All three stables are to be maintained by Wildenstein's sons, Alec and Guy, who have decided to keep Aquarelliste in training next season. She is the brilliant filly who won the Prix Vermeille and who finished second to Sakhee in the Arc de Triomphe.

Kimmel speaks out

Medication has been a controversial issue in American racing for many years. Many organizations and individuals hold strong opinions on the subject and some of them plan to present their views next week in Tucson, at the University of Arizona's annual racing industry seminar.

John Kimmel was a practicing veterinarian for a number of years, then began a training career and has enjoyed considerable success. His views on medication are worth hearing about, given his rich background.

Kimmel proposes withholding all medication in Grade 1 races.

"Horses do not appear as sound as they were some years ago," Kimmel said. "They don't take racing as well and are frequently injured. If medication were withheld in Grade 1 races, the horses coming to the forefront would be those genetically sound and I feel this could do much to strengthen the breed. I don't know if this can be achieved legally or politically, but it is worth consideration."

Kimmel is emphatic on one aspect of the problem.

"One point rings clear," he said. "The threshold guidelines for trace quantities of prohibited substances must be re-evaluated so that racing will not be blemished by these insignificant positives that keep coming up on the highly sensitive new testing methods."