02/10/2003 1:00AM

'Bertie' an emerging star


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Well worth the trip.

Jerry Bailey flew to California last weekend for important engagements but made it a point to return here and ride Allamerican Bertie in Saturday's $100,000 Sabin Handicap for fillies and mares. On his way back to California Sunday morning he had time to reflect on an outstanding performance and the filly's bright prospects as one of the leaders in her division.

Coming off a disappointing effort on the grass in last month's Honey Fox Handicap, an element of doubt accompanied Allamerican Bertie to the post in the Sabin. It was gone by the time she cruised home an impressive winner by more than five lengths over Small Promises, a Canadian stakes winner.

Allamerican Bertie likes to race on the lead but was challenged into the first turn by Small Promises. Some riders are hesitant to make use of their horses early, fearing a loss of power through the stretch. Bailey, appreciating the importance of a chance to control the pace, asked his filly to run a little. She responded instantly to take the front by herself, and the Sabin, for all intents and purposes, was over.

"She was pretty sharp and Bailey rode her to perfection," trainer Steve Flint said. "I don't believe it took a lot out of her. That was just what we wanted, for she is expected to run back in three weeks in the $200,000 Rampart on March 1. That is an important date for us because it is the 50th wedding anniversary of the owners, Bert and Elaine Klein. What a present it would make."

The homebred Allamerican Bertie, a 4-year-old daughter of Quiet American, has now earned $679,235. She could add substantially to that sum in the months ahead, having matured into a first-class racehorse with the natural speed to give her an edge.

San Dare impressive, too

Another filly who gave an impressive performance on Saturday's program was owner David Mounts's San Dare, winner of the $100,000 The Very One Handicap for fillies and mares at 11 furlongs on the turf course.

Facing an international field of 12, containing horses from as far as England, Ireland, Argentina, and Germany, San Dare was permitted to settle into stride and race well off the early pace. She came on through the stretch, was still sixth at the furlong pole, and closed fastest of all to score by more than two lengths under rider Mark Guidry.

San Dare, a 5-year-old mare by Dare and Go, was claimed two years ago at Ellis Park for $30,000. She has been a consistent campaigner for Mounts, an electrical contractor from Evansville, Ind., but has done particularly well in recent months under the direction of trainer Rick Hiles. A close second in the Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, she won the Honey Fox Handicap here last month.

"She has a real strong run through the stretch," Hiles said, "and if the rider waits with her, as Guidry has done, she can be very effective. We're thinking of the $200,000 Orchid Handicap on March 23 for her next race. That would give her a good winter season."