04/14/2005 11:00PM

One resilient rider

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EQUI-PHOTOS
Stakes winner Proud Man will make his 2005 debut in an allowance.

HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Last Sunday, jockey Alfredo Clemente was in Hollywood Memorial Hospital after his mount, Finn to Win, hit the starting gate and unseated him in the final race of the day at Gulfstream Park. Four days later, Clemente was in the Gulfstream winner's circle after guiding Burdakin to victory at 24-1 in Thursday's third race.

"Alfredo's a quiet guy who has ridden for me in New Jersey the last couple of years," said Tim Hills, who trains Burdakin. "He works real hard in the mornings and I think he'll do well at Calder this summer because he's a good gate rider and he's very good with 2-year-olds."

The win was the second of the meet for Clemente and came in Burdakin's first start since Oct. 30 at The Meadowlands.

Burdakin was one of three consecutive longshot winners over the local turf course here Thursday. He was followed in the fifth race by La Dolce Vita ($81) and Irish Gato ($58), who got up in the final stride by a nose in the featured seventh race.

La Dolce Vita is trained by Phil Hauswald, who won the 1987 Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies with Epitome.

"La Dolce Vita's win was very pleasant but wasn't a total surprise," said Hauswald. "Her mother, Regal Locket, ran pretty well on the grass."

La Dolce Vita had started only twice prior to winning her maiden on Thursday, finishing fifth and ninth while beaten a combined 38 1/2 lengths on the dirt last fall in New York. The victory was also the first for jockey Richard Bracho since his arrival here earlier this month.

Hauswald, who has won with 5 of 15 starters here this meet, will ship to New York early next week.

Irish Gato, winless in seven starts since defeating conditioned claiming opposition under a $10,000 claiming tag at Calder in November, was making his turf debut on Thursday and gave trainer Kathy Mongeon her first win of the meet. He ran down Harpoon, who led for all but the final jump of the five-furlong turf sprint.

"It was a tough meet until Thursday, but you have to hang tough in this business," said Mongeon, who will return to New Jersey when Monmouth Park opens next month.

Proud Man returns from layoff

Proud Man, who has started only three times and is winless since capturing the Sunshine Millions Turf here in January 2004, will launch his 2005 campaign in Sunday's $46,000 allowance feature at 1 1/16 miles on the grass.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Proud Man rallied to a half-length victory over longshot Hear No Evil to register his richest victory in the Sunshine Millions Turf. A multiple stakes winner, Proud Man finished off the board in three subsequent starts last year and has been idle since finishing a troubled fifth as the 3-2 favorite in the Bonnie Heath Turf Cup at Calder on Nov. 13.

Despite his impressive r?sum?, Proud Man is not likely to be favored. That honor will likely fall upon Grand Heritage, who overcame a rough trip to post a last-to-first win against high-priced optional claiming company here on March 3.

Stakes winner Spruce Run, who finished well behind Grand Heritage after engaging in an early pace duel, is one of several other key contenders in a field that also includes Unbridels King, Grato Recuerdo, Stormy Ray, He's Crafty, Cottage, and More Bourb.

* Jockey Chris DeCarlo, who has become the first-call rider for trainer Todd Pletcher since the departure of John Velazquez earlier this month, teamed up with Pletcher for a pair of grass wins on Friday. DeCarlo guided Clevedale and even-money favorite Kristali to victories in the seventh and ninth races for Pletcher, the meet's leading trainer with 32 wins.