10/11/2001 12:00AM

Sheppard's Watch has Clement going for repeat Oaks victory


MIAMI - Christophe Clement, who has dominated late-season turf stakes at Calder for the past several years, begins his 2001 invasion in earnest Saturday when he ships in Sheppard's Watch as the likely favorite in the $200,000 Calder Oaks. The 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-old fillies is one of five stakes on the undercard for the 13-race Festival of the Sun program.

Sharing top billing on the undercard along with the Oaks will be the $200,000 Smile Sprint Handicap at six furlongs and the $100,000 Spend a Buck Handicap, which has lured a strong field, including Grade 1 winners Sir Bear and Hal's Hope. The $100,000 Flying Pidgeon and Shocker T. handicaps complete Saturday's stakes lineup.

Clement has won six stakes at Calder, all on turf, over the past two seasons, including the 2000 Calder Oaks with Lucky Lune. In Sheppard's Watch, he appears to have another in a seemingly endless line of talented turf fillies to take on local leaders Sara's Success and O K to Dance.

Sheppard's Watch was a multiple listed stakes winner in England at 3. She was transferred to Clement's barn this summer at Saratoga and made her U.S. debut in the Grade 1 Garden City Breeders' Cup Handicap, finishing a wide-running fourth behind stablemate Voodoo Dancer, who is considered among the premier 3-year-old turf fillies in the country.

"She had a bad draw in the Garden City or she could have been closer," said Clement. "But she ran okay and has trained well since that race. The distance is my main concern. A mile and one eighth is the end of the world for her, about as far as she wants to go."

If Sheppard's Watch is vulnerable, Sara's Success and O K to Dance are the most likely to register the upset. Both fillies spent the summer at Saratoga, where they ran in the Grade 3 Lake George and Grade 2 Lake Placid stakes. Sara's Success finished sixth in both events although she encountered traffic troubles in the Lake Placid that cost her any chance of hitting the board. O K to Dance defeated Sara's Success on both occasions, finishing third in the Lake George and a wide fifth in the Lake Placid.

New York invader Bet Me Best and local sprint division leader Fappie's Notebook look like the ones to beat in the Smile Sprint.

Bet Me Best comes off a pair of tough defeats against allowance company at Saratoga and Belmont when finishing second, beaten a neck and a head, in his only two starts of the season. The speedy gelding seeks his first victory since June of 2000.

Fappie's Notebook has already won a pair of sprint stakes this year and finished second, beaten a half-length by Istintaj, in Gulfstream Park's Grade 3 Deputy Minister Handicap. He should benefit from what figures to be an honest pace, with Kipperscope likely to give Bet Me Best all he can handle on the front end.

Sir Bear owns three Grade 1 victories and has earned more than $2.3 million but has yet to win a stakes over his home course of Calder. The 8-year-old Sir Bear, who earlier this season upset the Grade 1 Gulfstream Park Handicap and finished second in the Grade 2 Massachusetts Handicap, will be favored to beat the talented but injury-plagued Best of the Rest, the speedy Hal's Hope, the consistent Dancing Guy and the ever-improving 3-year-old High Ideal in the Spend a Buck.