12/01/2003 12:00AM

Statement heads west for turf


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - The weather in New York has been awful the last month, and the purse money at Calder pales in comparison to what is offered in California this time of year. So what is a trainer who winters in Florida and spends the rest of the year in New York to do with a promising long-distance turf allowance horse this time of year? Christophe Clement has followed the advice of Horace Greeley and is headed west.

Clement has sent Statement from New York to California for an opportunity found nowhere else for this condition, at this distance, for this type of a prize money: a first-level allowance race, at 1 1/4 miles on turf, for a $43,000 pot. It is the featured sixth race on Wednesday's eight-race card at Hollywood Park.

"There are not any races at a mile and a quarter for my horse," Clement said Monday from Payson Park in Florida, where he has headed for the winter. "He has been ready for the last month, but we could not get a race for him with the weather. With grass horses today, you've got to give them the opportunities to run on the grass. And if you cannot get it in New York or Florida, you might as well go where you can."

Statement is one of many horses Clement has sent recently to California. Clement said Monday that he will keep a small string in California this winter with assistant trainer Arnaud Delacour. Among those horses is Dedication, who finished third in Sunday's Grade 1 Matriarch Stakes and whose next start is the Grade 3 Monrovia Handicap Dec. 29 on Santa Anita's hillside turf course.

"It makes sense to keep a few out there," Clement said. "People in the East are too scared to go to California. You just need to send good horses."

Statement, a 3-year-old colt, raced four times in Great Britain without winning but finished in the money three times. In his first start for Clement, Statement won a 1 3/8-mile maiden race at Belmont Park on Sept. 25. He has not raced since.

"He prefers a mile and a quarter to a mile and a half," Clement said. "I think he likes soft-to-good more than good-to-firm ground."

There are two other top contenders in the race: Royal Price, who finished fourth in a restricted stakes at Hollywood on Nov. 11 for Bobby Frankel, and Justice Minister, who turned in a sensational second-place effort to Sarafan when racing well above his conditions here Nov. 13.