03/14/2003 12:00AM

Ivanavinalot away, Ebony Breeze will play


Trainer Kathleen O'Connell's decision to run Ivanavinalot in Friday's Grade 2 Bonnie Miss Stakes at Gulfstream Park surely was met with a sigh of relief from the connections of the six other 3-year-old fillies entered in Sunday's $150,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs.

Ivanavinalot won the Bonnie Miss and would have been the overwhelming favorite to win the 1 1/16-mile Oaks, and her defection has now left the Grade 3 race up for grabs.

The most likely to benefit from Ivanavinalot's absence is Ebony Breeze, who figures to be able to control the pace of the Oaks stretching out off a series of one-turn races that included victories in Tampa's six-furlong Sandpiper and seven-furlong Gasparilla stakes. Like Ivanavinalot, she was cross-entered in the Oaks and Bonnie Miss.

Ebony Breeze, a homebred owned by George Steinbrenner's Kinsman Stable, overcame a slow start and outside post to run down Crimson and Roses in the Gasparilla. The victory was the third in a row for the daughter of Belong to Me. Her streak began with an easy 9 3/4-length maiden special weight win at Calder in her 2-year-old finale.

"There are several factors why we chose to run in the Oaks instead of the Bonnie Miss," trainer Bill Mott said. "The distance is a little shorter and should suit her better than the mile and one-eighth Bonnie Miss. And she's already won two races over the track at Tampa. When we found out this morning Ivanavinalot was scratching from the Oaks to run in the Bonnie Miss that clinched it. I think she'll naturally be up on the pace. Getting the distance is probably the main concern."

Mark Guidry will ride Ebony Breeze for the first time Sunday.

Crimson and Roses finished second behind Ebony Breeze in the Gasparilla then returned three weeks later and finished second behind Just Bill Me in the 1 1/16-mile Suncoast Stakes. A daughter of El Prado, Crimson and Roses also finished second in Calder's Jj'sdream and Joe O'Farrell stakes at 2.

Dakota Light is the most accomplished member of the Oaks lineup around two turns, having won Calder's Three Ring Stakes at 1 1/16 miles in her 2-year-old finale. She finished a late-running third in the Suncoast.

Never Fail, who finished second in the Three Ring, Judging Lady, and Groomeroma round out the starting lineup.

Mott is also hoping to get lucky when scratches are announced for the $100,000 Hillsboro Stakes for fillies and mares on turf.

Trainer Christophe Clement has entered Dedication, a Group 1 winner in France, in the Hillsboro, but only as a back-up in case rains force Saturday's Marshua's River Stakes - where Dedication is also entered - to be taken off the grass at Gulfstream.

If Dedication runs downstate Saturday, the Mott-trained Stylish would be a major player in the Hillsboro. "She's a nice Grade 3 kind of filly," Mott said of Stylish. "Chris's horse is already a Group 1 winner."

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