01/29/2004 12:00AM

Suwannee: Four share top billing


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - How wide-open is Saturday's $100,000 Suwannee River Handicap? Just ask Gulfstream Park's racing secretary, Dave Bailey, who assigned four of the 12 starters high weight of 116 pounds for the 1 1/8-mile turf fixture. The race shares top billing on the card with the Grade 3 Canadian Turf Handicap.

Bailey could not separate Madeira Mist, New Economy, Sixty Seconds, and Something Ventured when he was assessing the Suwannee River field. San Dare will tote just one pound less when she tries to recapture the form that saw her win a pair of graded turf stakes here last winter.

Madeira Mist and Sixty Seconds hail from the barn of trainer Christophe Clement, who won this race a year ago with Amonita.

finished second, beaten less than a length after lacking room entering the stretch, in the Grade 3 Honey Fox Handicap on opening day here. She was a two-time stakes winner last season.

Sixty Seconds turns back in distance off a fifth-place finish in Calder's Grade 2 La Prevoyante Handicap. She won the Grade 3 Glens Falls Handicap last summer at Saratoga.

had some traffic issues when she finished sixth in the La Prevoyante after having won Calder's Grade 3 My Charmer over Something Ventured three weeks earlier.

Something Ventured rarely runs a poor race, but she has gone winless in her last seven starts. She has been stakes placed in five of those races and did show an affinity for this course with a pair of victories here last winter.

The stretch-running San Dare rose to the head of her division here during the winter of 2003 with last-to-first tallies in the Grade 3 Honey Fox and The Very One handicaps. She was also second in the Grade 2 Orchid Handicap, which was taken off the grass and decided on the main track.

San Dare has gone winless in her last seven grass starts since leaving south Florida, including an eighth-place finish in the Grade 3 Cardinal Handicap at Churchill Downs, her 2003 finale.

The prospect for rain in the forecast could play into the hands of trainer Steve Flint and May Gator should the Suwannee River be switched to the main course. May Gator has won 3 of her 8 starts on dirt, including the Waya Stakes by 6 1/2 lengths last summer at Saratoga.