12/09/2002 1:00AM

Coyote Lakes is truly Mr. December


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Coyote Lakes is the Fourstardave of the inner track.

Sunday, Coyote Lakes won a starter allowance race over Aqueduct's inner track; it was the fifth consecutive December in which he has won over the inner oval. Coyote Lakes, who began his career in Arizona and did not see the inner track until 1998, is now 8 for 13 lifetime over the inner. Fourstardave, who recently died, won at least one race at Saratoga for eight consecutive years.

Sunday's win sets up Coyote Lakes for a bid at a third straight victory in the $100,000 Gallant Fox Handicap scheduled for Dec. 28.

Coyote Lakes has competed in the last four runnings of the Gallant Fox, run at 1 5/8 miles. He won the 2000 edition - which was run on Jan. 1, 2001, because of a snow-forced cancellation - then came back 11 months later to win the 2001 running. He also has a second and a 10th-place finish in the race.

Coyote Lakes has been remarkably consistent at marathon distances, winning Sunday's 10-furlong starter allowance by two lengths over the front-running favorite My Request. Jockey Mike Luzzi had to get after Coyote Lakes around the turn, but as he always seems to do, Coyote Lakes responded with a strong late kick.

"I didn't think he was going to win turning for home,'' trainer Bruce Levine said. "He half did that in the race last year. He's amazing, he just finds the wire.''

The victory was the 19th in 60 starts for Coyote Lakes, an 8-year-old gelding who is the richest Arizona-bred in history with $657,657 in earnings.

Svea Dahl heads to California

Levine will have plenty to keep him busy between now and the Gallant Fox. This weekend, he will be in California to saddle Svea Dahl, winner of the Grade 3 Turnback the Alarm Handicap at Aqueduct in her last start, the $150,000 Bayakoa Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Levine chose the Bayakoa over the Ladies Handicap here on Dec. 21 because the Bayakoa, run at 1 1/16 miles, would be a better prep for the $750,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Santa Anita on Jan. 25. That race is also run at 1 1/16 miles. The Ladies is run at 1 1/4 miles.

"We didn't want to go the Ladies and then cut back to the mile and a sixteenth,'' Levine said. "This way, she'll be there, kind of acclimate instead of running a mile and an eighth, a mile and a quarter, then back to a mile and a sixteenth. The Sunshine Millions race is our major objective.''

Saturday, Svea Dahl worked five furlongs in 1:01.20 over Belmont Park's training track. Richard Migliore will fly out to California to ride Svea Dahl.

Svea Dahl and Coyote Lakes are examples of shrewd claims made by Levine and owner Roddy Valente. Another, less-heralded claim is Jester Rahab, who last Saturday won a $60,000 claiming race by three lengths. It was her seventh win in 11 starts this year and seventh from 12 since Levine and Valente took her for $30,000 on Nov. 21, 2001, at Churchill Downs.

Jester Rahab has made more than $200,000 since the claim.

Jerkens has two for Aqueduct Cap

Snake Mountain came out of his victory in Saturday's Queens County Handicap in good order, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens, and will run back in the $100,000 Aqueduct Handicap on Jan. 18.

Snake Mountain is now 7 for 10 since coming to this country and added the Queens County to his Stuyvesant Handicap win back in November.

"I thought it was great,'' Jerkens said of Saturday's race. "It looks like you can place him wherever you want to and when you ask him he goes.''

Jerkens said he would also run Voodoo, a recent allowance winner, in the Aqueduct.

"At least they're horses with two different ways of running so there's no big conflict there,'' Jerkens said.

In addition to Snake Mountain's victory on Saturday, Jerkens was pleased with Pocus Hocus's 11 1/2-length victory in an allowance race on Sunday. The race was her first since March, when she emerged from a fifth-place finish in the Next Move Handicap with an ankle injury.

Pocus Hocus is now 3 for 4 over the inner track with her three victories coming by a combined 36 3/4 lengths. Jerkens said he would not run Pocus Hocus back in the Ladies Handicap, but most likely wait for the Grade 3 Affectionately on Jan. 11.

"When they run that big off a long layoff it's usually wise to wait a little longer,'' Jerkens said. "I'm not really a big bounce-theory guy, but if there ever was a situation it's one right there.''

Miz Blue to tackle Xtra Heat

Pocus Hocus could fill the upcoming void that will be left by Dat You Miz Blue, who will be retired and bred this spring. But first Dat You Miz Blue will race a few more times, including Saturday, when she takes on Xtra Heat in the $75,000 Garland of Roses Handicap.

"Our filly was very sharp winning the New York-bred race,'' Jerkens said of Dat You Miz Blue's five-length victory in the Iroquois Stakes two back. "She's acting like she's pretty sharp, so we'll take a shot.''

Too close to call

Sunday's card featured two dead heats, and a number of other close finishes that kept the photo-finish man extremely busy.

In the third race, Durmiente and Judge's Case dead-heated for show behind Coyote Lakes and My Request. In the fifth, Netcong and Smile Smile Smile dead-heated for win.

The margins for the top four finishers in the first race were nose, neck, and neck. Y.V. Five won the fourth by a head over Nacheezmo. The sixth, seventh, and ninth races all saw the place spot won by a neck or a nose.