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Once Mark Bacon and Dana Wells' Silver Max sprinted to a comfortable early lead, Friday's Grade 3, $100,000 Transylvania Stakes was for all intents and purposes over. The rapidly-improving Dale Romans sophomore kept on motoring for Robby Albarado, and soon turned Keeneland's opening-day feature into a one-sided affair. Spurting 5 1/2 lengths clear -- a stakes-record margin -- Silver Max scored a memorable first stakes win for Bacon.
State of Play was also eligible to flash speed from his rail post, but Silver Max bounded to the front and had no difficulty in clearing the field. As the pacesetter carved out fractions of :23 2/5, :47 1/5 and 1:11 4/5 on the firm turf, he was traveling conspicuously well with easy, ground-devouring strides. State of Play and Icon Ike raced virtually in tandem, while Wayward Sailor and 2-1 favorite Monastic comprised the next flight much of the way, and Travel Advisory trailed.
Silver Max quickened impressively at the top of the stretch and opened up five lengths on the field. Travel Advisory split rivals to emerge as best of the rest, with no hope of making a dent on the winner. Silver Max, who reached the mile in 1:35 3/5, dazzled his final sixteenth in a shade more than :6 to complete 1 1/16 grassy miles in 1:41 4/5. The 3-1 third choice, he gave back $8.60, $4.20 and $2.80.
Travel Advisory crossed the wire 1 1/4 lengths to the good of State of Play, who had at one point dropped back to fifth before coming again for third. Monastic made brief headway into third, only to tread water and check in another 2 1/4 lengths adrift in fourth. Icon Ike and Wayward Sailor completed the order of finish. Saturday Launch was scratched in favor of Saturday's Grade 3 Illinois Derby at Hawthorne.
Silver Max now sports a record of 9-3-5-0, $169,475. The bay finished second in his first five starts, finally breaking through at Gulfstream Park on January 13. Making a rare try on the main track for the Grade 3 Holy Bull Stakes, he faded to a well-beaten fifth, but rebounded back on the Gulfstream turf on March 9.
Silver Max, a son of Badge of Silver, reminded Albarado of his sire. The jockey had ridden Badge of Silver in his first six races, highlighted by a romp in the Grade 3 Risen Star in 2003, and mentioned that Silver Max has a similarly high cruising speed.
Bred by Steve C. Snowden, Seth Lauffer and Will Lauffer in Kentucky, Silver Max brought $20,000 as a Fasig-Tipton Kentucky July yearling. He is out of the winning Kissin Kris mare Kissin Rene, making him a half-brother to stakes scorer True Kiss.
Kissin Rene is herself a three-quarter sister to Canadian champion and millionaire Kiss a Native. She is also a half-sister to Grade 3 victor Prince of the Mt. and to Clever Monique, the dam of Grade 1-winning millionaire and sire Yes It's True.
Silver Max's second dam is Monique Rene, a 15-time stakes heroine in Louisiana in the early 1980s.
Silver Max is inbred 4x4 to Epsom Derby star, English/Irish champion and influential sire Roberto.
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