04/01/2004 1:00AM

Dynever lured back to site of happy memories


ARCADIA, Calif. - Dynever makes his 2004 debut in Saturday's $100,000 San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita, the sight of his best performance in a 2003 campaign that made him a millionaire.

Last October, Dynever ran third to Pleasantly Perfect and Medgalia d'Oro here in the $4 million Breeders' Cup Classic.

The form of that race has been enhanced in recent months. Pleasantly Perfect and Medaglia d'Oro finished one-two in the $6 million Dubai World Cup last weekend.

Trainer Christophe Clement considered Dynever for Saturday's $300,000 Gulfstream Park Handicap over 1 1/4 miles, but shipped him across the country because the San Bernardino is run over 1 1/8 miles and the 4-year-old was assigned 116 pounds, three less than his Florida assignment.

"I was not happy with the weights at Gulfstream Park and the forecast was not good," Clement said. "I was happier with the distance in California. We put it all together and decided to come to California. He's working well and training well."

Dynever will be ridden by Corey Nakatani, who was aboard for the BC Classic and a runner-up finish in the Meadowlands Breeders' Cup Stakes last fall. The San Bernardino is a prep for the Pimlico Special next month, Clement said.

Dynever shares top weight with Total Impact, who is winless in four starts since winning the Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy Handicap at Hollywood last May. Other candidates are Ender's Shadow, the upset winner of the Tokyo City Handicap last month, and Calkins Road, a multiple stakes winner.

Of the seven entrants, only Star Cross ran in the $1 million Santa Anita Handicap, and he finished last of eight.

"I don't know what to think about that race," trainer Darrell Vienna said. "I have a little concern that it could happen again."

Vienna argues that this is a good time to take on Dynever.

"That horse has been away for a while," he said. "He ran well in the Breeders' Cup, but that's a long time ago and he's traveling a long way."

Star Cross's previous form makes him a contender, especially if Dynever is found wanting in his return. Last fall and winter, Star Cross won the Forty Niner and San Pasqual handicaps and finished second to Pleasantly Perfect in the San Antonio Handicap.

Victor Espinoza was aboard Star Cross in the San Pasqual and San Antonio handicaps and regains the mount. Espinoza opted to ride race winner Southern Image in the Big Cap.

"He's done well with Espinoza," Vienna said of Star Cross. "I think we have a good chance."