09/12/2003 11:00PM

Cellamare wins Carmel


SAN MATEO, Calif. - Cellamare ($3.60), a French-bred mare owned in part by New York Yankees manager Joe Torre, rallied from far off the pace to win the $60,850 Carmel Handicap at Bay Meadows on Saturday.

The 3-year-old filly was eighth in her U.S. debut in the Grade 2 San Clemente at Del Mar on Aug. 2 eight days after her arrival from France.

"I made a mistake," trainer Frank Monteleone said. "She wasn't ready. She was very thin after the trip, but I hoped to get lucky. She's really blossomed since."

Cellamare, coupled with Woodlass in the wagering, sat well off the slow pace set by Hippogator in the 1 1/16-mile turf race for 3-year-old fillies. When the field bunched at the quarter pole, jockey Jose Valdivia Jr. shifted her out to avoid trouble, and she closed well to run down Hippogator and Frisco Belle, who took the lead deep in the stretch after circling the field on the turn.

Cellamare won by one length in 1:44.55 with Frisco Belle a neck in front of Hippogator.

"I avoided the commotion at the quarter pole," Valdivia said. "She accelerated, and I had plenty of horse."

Cellamare scored her fourth victory in nine career starts, earning $33,850 to more than double her career earnings to $66,575.