Buckram Oak Farm's Silver Train held off a fast-closing Sun King to post a narrow victory in Monday's Metropolitan Mile (gr. I), the Memorial Day feature at Belmont Park.
With jockey Edgar Prado back in the saddle for trainer Dick Dutrow, the son of Old Trieste stalked the early pace set by Mass Media as the pair went in fractions of :22 3/5, :44 4/5, and 1:08 4/5 for the first three-quarters of a mile. Silver Train overtook Mass Media coming out of the turn in the one-turn mile race, as Bandini made an abbreviated move that he could not sustain. Silver Train roared down the stretch as Sun King took aim on the leader. At the finish, only a head bob separated the two, with Silver Train coming out the winner of the photo.
Completing the distance in final time of 1:34 1/5, favored Silver Train paid $6.60, $3.50, and $2.90. Sun King paid $6.30 and $4.80, with Mass Media holding on for third and returning $5.00. Bandini finished fourth as the second choice.
The victory was the first in three starts for Silver Train since his impressive performance in the 2005 TVG Breeders' Cup Sprint (gr. I) last Oct. 29. In his seasonal debut, Silver Train finished seventh as the even-money favorite in the Richter Scale Breeders' Cup (gr. II) March 4. With Mike Smith aboard, the 4-year-old colt finished second as the 1-2 favorite in a three-horse field in an allowance test at Aqueduct April 20.
The Met Mile pushed Silver Train over the seven-figure earnings threshold as he has now earned $1,127,345, with five wins and six placings from 14 starts. The colt was bred in Kentucky by Joe Mulholland, Sr., Joe Mulholland Jr., and partners.
"He just loves this track, and that's great for us," Dutrow said. "He can do anything, and Edgar (Prado) has such a knack for knowing what to do and when to do it. There were a lot of question marks about this horse out there, but he just loves this track. That's why we got the job done today. If this race were run at Aqueduct or anywhere else in the world, I'm sure he would have gotten beat. I was sweating, but he dug down and got it done. It was beautiful. I have to look at the Suburban (grade I, $400,000 10 furlongs, Saturday, July 1 – I have to look for as many good races for him here as possible. He's not going to go up to Saratoga. I don't know why he wouldn't get a mile and a quarter. I guess I'll find out at the eighth pole. "
"He tries so hard," Prado said. "I was still running at the end. I knew it was going to be close, but my horse was still running."
"It's a little frustrating. In the Donn, we finished second. In the Pimlico Special, we finished second. In the Met Mile we finished second – and we beat (trainer Todd) Pletcher all three times," said trainer Nick Zito of Sun King's effort. "It's like the freakiest thing ever. The horse ran great. He ran his guts out. This was a tough beat. We lost to the horse that won the Breeders' Cup Sprint over this track. We're there all year in these Grade 1s, we need to win one. I'm grateful to these horses for trying so hard. This race just adds to Sun King's legacy. I guess if we had to lose, we lost to the right horse. I love Sun King. We'll talk with (owner) Mr. (Tracy) Farmer and see what he wants to do."
"He's probably just a little better at two turns or a mile and an eighth," jockey Garrett Gomez said of Bandini. "The other horses are more sprinters. When we left there, he kind of got shuffled back. From then on, I was in everyone else's pocket. He had every chance to get it done, but they just kicked on."