06/28/2004 11:00PM

Dynever prefers no rain


ELMONT, N.Y. - Few horses have accumulated more frequent-flier mileage than Dynever, who has made appearances at tracks in eight states from just 12 starts. If trainer Christophe Clement has his druthers, Dynever will not leave New York again until late October when the Breeders' Cup is held at Lone Star Park in Texas.

Clement likes New York's program for handicap horses, one that continues Saturday with the $500,000 Suburban Handicap at Belmont Park and includes the Whitney at Saratoga in August, and the Woodward and Jockey Club Gold Cup at Belmont in the fall. Coming off a solid second-place finish behind Seattle Fitz in last month's Brooklyn here, Dynever seems poised to win his first Grade 1 in the Suburban.

Dynever's participation in the race, of course, depends a lot on the weather. Two of Dynever's three poor performances came on sloppy tracks. Clement believes Dynever's other bad race - a fifth-place finish in the Pimlico Special in May - was the result of having trained Dynever on a wet track leading up to that race.

Clement said that Dynever would not run on a wet track again and is hoping any rain that falls this week in New York comes before Saturday. As a contingency plan, Clement has lined up a plane for the middle of next week that would take Dynever to California for the Hollywood Gold Cup.

But Clement desperately wants to stay home. He likes the way Dynever has trained here since the Brooklyn and believes the 10 furlongs of the Suburban gives Dynever an edge over probable race favorite Peace Rules, who is 0 for 2 at 1 1/4 miles.

"My horse is a true mile-and-a-quarter horse. He's training very well; everything is a go,'' Clement said. "I wouldn't trade with anybody else.''

At 3, Dynever put forth some impressive performances that had many handicappers believing he was among the best of his generation. But victories in the ungraded Aventura and Grade 3 Lone Star Derby turned out to be the highlights. He finished second in both the West Virginia Derby and Meadowlands Cup and third in the Breeders' Cup Classic.

"Good and bad,'' Clement said when asked to characterize Dynever's 3-year-old campaign. "Good because he made $1.1 million; you can't complain too much about that. Bad because I wish he would have won the West Virginia Derby, bad because I wish he would have won the Meadowlands Cup and Breeders' Cup.''

Dynever began the year with a monster victory in the Grade 3 San Benardino at Santa Anita in April. He was sent off the favorite in the Pimlico Special, only to finish fifth behind Southern Image. He came out of the race with sore feet.

Since then, Clement has trained Dynever in what are called spider shoes, or bar shoes. They protect the soles of the feet and Clement takes them off on race day.

"My main thing is we know he has talent, we know he wants to go long on dirt,'' Clement said. "Every day of my life I just worry about keeping him sound.''

As of Tuesday, eight horses were expected for the Suburban. Colonial Colony, upset winner of the Stephen Foster Handicap, and Devil Time, a winner of two 10-furlong stakes restricted to Ohio-breds, have arrived on a flight from Kentucky.

Congrats, fifth in the Brooklyn after winning the Alysheba at Churchill in April, worked a strong four furlongs in 46.71 seconds Tuesday at Belmont. It was the fastest of 30 works at the distance.

Sarava, the 2002 Belmont Stakes winner, was confirmed a starter despite his poor showing in the Massachusetts Handicap two weeks ago. Bowman's Band, who beat Dynever in the Meadowlands Cup, and Newfoundland, a multiple Grade 3 winner last winter in Florida, will also run.

Brooklyn winner Seattle Fitz worked four furlongs in 49.16 seconds on Tuesday. Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin said Seattle Fitz is still likely to skip the Suburban, but could be a candidate for the Hollywood Gold Cup.