06/01/2003 11:00PM

Clement out to add bookend


ELMONT, N.Y. - This could be a special week for Chris Clement, who saddled the 13-1 Mariensky for her first stakes victory in last Saturday's $150,000 Sheepshead Bay Handicap on the turf for fillies and mares and hopes to bring off another upset this weekend in the Belmont Stakes with the improving Dynever, winner of the Lone Star Derby.

Mariensky, a 4-year-old filly by Gulch out of stakes-winning Julie La Rousse, came out of the Saratoga yearling sales for $200,000 on a bid from the Waterville Lake Stable, a partnership of John Meriwether, Daniel Tully, and Richard Leahy. Meriwether and Tully are trustees of the New York Racing Association.

"She has a grass pedigree," Clement said, "and I recommended that she be sent to Europe to get her career under way with my brother, Nicolas, in France. It's not easy to introduce a grass horse in this country, where some tracks have a problem with maidens. Mariensky raced well against good competition last year and was a cut below the best. I flew to see her French Oaks, and I thought she gave a good account."

Mariensky was returned to the United States last summer, ran well in several engagements, and may have been a trifle unlucky not to win. Freshened over the winter, she came back in sharp form with a victory and followed it with a rousing score by more than eight lengths in the Sheepshead Bay, which was run on a very soft course. The first six furlongs were run in a pedestrian 1:20.70.

"Horses either can or can't handle soft conditions," Clement said. "I'm sure several horses who ran Saturday didn't like it. Mariensky ran on some soft courses in the past and proved she can handle it, but I don't think she must have soft going to run well.

"We're considering the $250,000 New York Handicap on July 4 or Delaware's $150,000 Robert Dick Breeders' Cup Handicap on July 19 for Mariensky's next start, wet or dry."

Clement, who began his training career in 1992, will be participating in Triple Crown competition for the first time Saturday when he brings Dynever out for the Belmont. The tallish, refined-looking colt is by Dynaformer, a son of Epsom Derby winner Roberto, and was bred in the United States by Catherine Willis, an English owner and breeder. Unraced at 2 by design, Dynever won his maiden at Gulfstream Park in early March by a margin of more than eight lengths, and offers for his purchase came flooding in.

Clement recommended the purchase of a half-interest in Dynever to one of his patrons, Peter Karches, vice chairman of NYRA's board of trustees. Willis wanted to retain an interest in the colt, so she accepted Karches's offer and both have enjoyed an exciting ride.

With only his maiden victory for credentials, Dynever showed vast improvement when he won Gulfstream Park's Aventura Stakes by more than three lengths. A month later he was at Lone Star Park in Texas for the Lone Star Derby, which he won gamely, overcoming trouble. Once again there was noticeable improvement from race to race.

Dynever bruised a foot recently but appears to have maintained his condition by wearing "spider" shoes behind for his works.

"I feel the horses to beat in the Belmont are Funny Cide and Empire Maker," said Clement. "They have been running against stronger competition than we have, so there is a need for Dynever to improve a good deal to win the Belmont. I believe he can do it, but right now that is just an opinion."