04/04/2004 11:00PM

Clement's decision to travel with Dynever pays off nicely

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Dynever began his 2004 as scheduled Saturday, albeit a few time zones farther west than originally expected. But despite a last-minute change in venue, Dynever opened the year in spectacular fashion, with an easy victory in Santa Anita's San Bernadino Handicap.

Trainer Christophe Clement had pinpointed Saturday's Grade 2 Gulfstream Park Handicap for Dynever's 2004 debut, only to call an audible early last week because of a combination of circumstances that included the weight assignment, uncertain weather conditions, and problems lining up a front-line jockey for the race.

Clement flew Dynever to California on Tuesday and was rewarded for the decision with an outstanding performance from a colt who has been highly regarded ever since winning his maiden at Gulfstream 13 months ago.

"I'm very happy with the way he ran in California," Clement said after saddling back-to-back winners at Gulfstream on Sunday. "It was a very good race, and he came back in good shape."

Dynever, a son of Dynaformer who is owned by his breeder, Catherine Wills, in partnership with Peter Karches, was scheduled to return to his Payson Park headquarters on Monday.

"The plan now is to run him in the Pimlico Special, although it's just a plan," said Clement. "We'll have to see how things go over the next few weeks before anything is definite."

Dynever's victory under Corey Nakatani in the San Bernadino came in his first start since he finished third behind Pleasantly Perfect and Medaglia d'Oro in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"I wanted to start him off late so he could run all the way to the Breeders' Cup," said Clement. "It's hard to begin in the winter and keep them sharp all season. We've always thought him to be a very nice horse, and it would be nice if he'll justify that hope for us this year."

Clement capped off his big weekend here Sunday with an allowance victory by the promising Derrianne. A 4-year-old daughter of Cozzene, Derrianne was a listed stakes winner in France early at 3 and captured the Grade 3 Mt. Washington Breeders' Cup Stakes in her U.S. debut last fall at Pimlico.

Derrianne's win also put the finishing touches on a big weekend for jockey Joe Bravo, who won three races on both Saturday and Sunday, including the Gulfstream Park Handicap for trainer Shug McGaughey aboard Jackpot.

Eibar Coa also turned in a pair of hat tricks over the weekend. Coa won three races, including the Illinois Derby with Pollard's Vision, at Hawthorne on Saturday, then returned here to win three races Sunday.

Seattle Fitz fizzles

Seattle Fitz was the biggest casualty in the Gulfstream Park Handicap finishing sixth and last, 14 1/2 lengths behind Jackpot, as the 3-5 favorite.

"We scoped him and checked him out and didn't find much of anything wrong," trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said on Monday. "He always seems to be making a little noise, and he was making a little more than normal early on in the race Saturday, so we're thinking there's obviously some kind of breathing problem going on but nothing we can put our finger on. Physically he's sound so we'll just proceed cautiously with him for now until we can decide what might be causing the trouble."

* A $32,000 maiden dash for 2-year-old fillies is the richest race on Wednesday's nine race card. The feature, however, is a $50,000 claiming test which offers only a $26,000 purse but does bring together some tough grass horses, including Alnahaam, Grade 2 winner Dawn of the Condor, Scagnelli, Rolled Stocking, and the recently claimed Spotted Owl.