02/01/2006 12:00AM

Rain may force Clement to keep Life in barn


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The National Weather Service forecast for Friday in south Florida has the possibility of rain, and it is even more dire for Saturday, when thunderstorms are predicted for the day of the Donn Handicap. Keeping an eye on the weather will be trainer Christophe Clement, who will have the horse to beat in Friday's feature race at Gulfstream - if it remains on the turf.

Clement trains , who moves back into a $37,000 third-level allowance race after finishing fourth following a rough trip in the minor Connie Ann Stakes at Calder in her last start. She was a narrow loser at this level at Belmont Park in her prior start, which, like Friday's race, was at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

"She's a good filly," Clement said from Payson Park, where he is based this winter. "Very consistent. But she's been a little bit unlucky. She ran a very impressive race at Belmont. She had to come from a long ways back last time. But with rain in the forecast, I'm not sure I'm going to run her."

The main rival to Life figures to be Present Danger, who finished third in the Connie Ann, a head in front of Life, as a 15-1 outsider. She has a history of settling for minor awards, though, with seven third-place finishes from 17 starts.

Regardless of whether the race is on the turf or main track, Voluntown is a serious contender. She was third after setting the pace in a similar spot at Calder last time out, but has displayed ability on dirt, too, with a victory and a second-place finish in a pair of off-the-turf races late last year at Calder.

was third in a similar race last month at Gulfstream. This will be only her third start since moving to the barn of trainer Bill Mott.

The lightly raced has won twice in her last three starts, including a second-level allowance victory at Calder last time out. She is on the improve, and might catch a group of older fillies and mares who have reached their plateau.

Also of interest on Friday's card is the eighth race, a sprint for 3-year-old fillies in which will make her first start of the year. India was a dazzling winner against maidens at Saratoga, but subsequently disappointed in the Matron Stakes, when she broke through the gate prior to the start, and Valley Stream Stakes. She has been favored in all four of her starts, and figures to be favored again.

"We freshened her up with the idea of getting her started down here," said her trainer, Todd Pletcher. "She's a filly with a lot of quality. We've been trying to get her to relax."