02/27/2007 12:00AM

Beautiful Daniele better at 4


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The emergence of Beautiful Daniele has been one of the many bright spots in what has been a terrific winter for trainer John Kimmel. A winner of two allowance races over the Gulfstream Park grass course in January, Beautiful Daniele will try to keep her and her trainer's roll going in Thursday's $57,500 City of Hollywood, an overnight turf stakes scheduled for 1 1/8 miles.

A daughter of A.P. Indy out of the unraced mare Kelli Cat - a half-sister to 1997 champion juvenile filly Countess Diana - Beautiful Daniele sold for $800,000 at auction as a yearling. She only won once from seven starts as a 3-year-old, however. Kimmel chalks up her improvement to maturity.

"I think that's what it is,'' he said. "She's settling a little more in her races; she's actually been very good for Kent [Desormeaux] in both those starts. When he put her in the clear, she was there. Last time out, she dropped the bit, settled nice, she put herself in good position around the turn and when he needed her, boy, she gave him a good response, finished very quick and very well.''

The horse Beautiful Daniele defeated that day, Quiet Royal, came back to win a second-level allowance here on Monday. Beautiful Daniele will break from post 2 under Desormeaux.

Among the more interesting contenders in this field is Factual Contender, a 6-year-old New York-bred mare who has found a new lease on life since being moved to the turf after 27 starts on dirt.

Owner Thomas Farone transferred Factual Contender to Barclay Tagg last fall and Tagg's assistant, Robin Smullen, galloped the mare and felt it was worth taking a shot on the turf. Smullen's instincts were proven correct when Factual Contender romped to a third-level allowance win at Calder on Dec. 11.

Factual Contender ran back in the Marshua's River here and she clipped heels early with another horse, was rank while behind horses, lacked room at the top of the stretch then came rallying in the final furlong to finish fifth, beaten only 1 1/2 lengths by Bright Abundance.

"We couldn't get the position we wanted to get; she resented being taken back,'' Smullen said. "Once she settled, she was okay but then she couldn't get through at the top of the lane. When she finally got through she came flying.''

Factual Contender will need an alert start Thursday breaking from post 10 in the 11-horse field.

La Dolce Vita is 4 for 6 at Gulfstream. Miss Belga Bound comes off a third-level allowance win going a mile here on Feb. 1.