03/03/2002 12:00AM

Snow Dance best in Suwanee River


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - John Oxley and John Ward completed a sensational stakes weekend Sunday when Snow Dance raced to a comfortable victory for the prominent owner-trainer team in the $100,000, Grade 3 Suwanee River Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Snow Dance, the 1-2 favorite under Pat Day, captured the 1 1/8-mile grass race under mild urging, finishing three-quarters of a length ahead of late-running Step With Style. The previous day, Oxley and Ward won the Grade 2 Rampart Handicap at Gulfstream with Forest Secrets, also ridden by Day.

Snow Dance, now a winner in six of eight lifetime turf starts, returned $3 after finishing in 1:49.04 over a firm turf. In her previous start, Snow Dance was beaten a nose in the De La Rose Stakes.

Ward said Snow Dance, a 4-year-old Forest Wildcat filly, would be given a brief freshening after having had two tough races at Gulfstream. "After the two races down here, we're going to space her races out a little more," said Ward.

Snow Dance tracked the pace contested by Salty You and Tap Dance before forging to the lead late in the final turn without being asked. "The good thing about this race was she and Pat have reached a compromise," Ward said with a laugh, referring to Snow Dance's former headstrong ways and Day's desire to take her back. "I hope we've found a new dimension with her."

With the $60,000 winner's share, Snow Dance now has earned $516,400.

Step With Style, the 6-1 third choice, finished a length ahead of Windsong. Then came Tap Dance, Salty You and Delirio. Sound of the West and Golden Antigua were scratched.

The 6-1 exacta paid $10 and the 6-1-7 trifecta paid $31.80.