12/16/2002 12:00AM

Amonita and Bailey found room


MIAMI - As the field approached the quarter pole in Sunday's Snazzle Dazzle Handicap and the 1-2 favorite Amonita remained bottled up in traffic and well behind the pacesetting Notable Craft, Christophe Clement, Amonita's trainer, turned to his assistant and said, "It looks like we're going to get beat today."

But as has been the case so many times, jockey Jerry Bailey was able to extricate himself from the logjam and give Amonita enough time to run down the outclassed Notable Craft en route to a nerve-wracking victory.

"At the quarter pole it looked like the horse on the lead had gotten away too far," said a relieved Clement as he watched the replay of the Snazzle Dazzle.

The victory was the second in three starts since Amonita came to Clement from France a year ago. Her lone setback was a one-length defeat at the hands of Tates Creek in Belmont's Grade 3 Noble Damsel Handicap.

"This is a very good but very unlucky filly," said Clement. "She had a bit of an ankle when she came to me, so I gave her the winter off. The ankle flared up again after the Noble Damsel, so I gave her a little more time before bringing her back today. If she comes back all right, I'll run her in the Honey Fox at Gulfstream on Jan. 5 and pick our spots during the remainder of the meet. She's scheduled to be bred to Kingmambo in April."

Clement, who has dominated the turf stakes at Tropical over the past several seasons, will have three bullets to fire in the Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap on Dec. 28, sending out Moon Queen, Julie Jalouse, and Mot Juste. Clement has already won the 1 1/2-mile La Prevoyante four times, most recently with Coretta. who won in 1998 and 1999.

Uncharacteristically, Clement said he will not have a starter for the Grade 2 W. L. McKnight Handicap, the same day.

"I'm a little weak in the colt division right now, although I just received two very good French colts who should be ready to run by late Gulfstream," said Clement.

Bailey's win aboard Amonita was his 65th stakes victory of the season, putting him just two shy of the record for stakes winners in a year.

Grass course busy with workers

The turf course was busy here Monday morning, with nine horses working out, the majority of those for upcoming stakes.

Among the most impressive moves was turned in by Heyahohowdy, who zipped three furlongs in 36.80 seconds around the dogs, the last eighth in 11.09 seconds, in preparation for Saturday's $100,000 Frances Genter Handicap. Heyahohowdy is coming off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere Stakes at Churchill Downs. The Mrs. Revere was the first start in this country for Heyahohowdy, who won a pair of stakes at Woodbine earlier in the year.

Heyahohowdy will be ridden by Laffitt Pincay Jr. in the Genter.

Another Genter candidate working on the turf was August Storm, who went an easy half-mile in 50.20 seconds. August Storm shipped here this time last year to win the Lulu's Ransom and Hollywood Wildcat Stakes.

Gemma's Star, a candidate for Saturday's $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes, worked a half-mile in 49.20 seconds over the turf, while another Axthelm prospect, Island Skipper, had the best work of the morning on the main track: five furlongs in 59.60 seconds.