07/15/2004 11:00PM

Two words for Dynever: Go west

Email

PHOENIX - Being labeled the next great thing can place a great burden on an athlete - human or equine. Consider Dynever.

Trained by Christophe Clement, Dynever has been taken to task time and again for not fulfilling the promise many saw in him. Dynever won three of his first four races in dazzling fashion. His fifth race was the Belmont, and it was tough to be too hard on him for finishing fourth behind Empire Maker, Ten Most Wanted, and Funny Cide on a sloppy track he disliked.

There have been some shimmering moments since the Belmont, but only one win. That came in the Grade 2 San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita this spring. It marked his first start since an excellent third in last October's Breeders' Cup Classic.

After earning a 116 Beyer in the San Bernardino, Dynever appeared to be one of the handicap division's elite. But the best he has been able to do since then was a second in the Grade 2 Brooklyn sandwiched between dull outings in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special and Grade 1 Suburban.

Dynever's inability to deliver on his promise has earned him the unflattering nickname Win-never.

And not that Clement needs my help, but there are two emerging patterns from Dynever's races. First off, he wants it fast and dry. All his best work has come under such circumstances, including his two best career races, which came in Southern California.

His BC Classic run last fall was a beaut. He sat well back early and charged home, finishing behind Pleasantly Perfect and Medaglia d'Oro, and beating the likes of Congaree, Perfect Drift, Ten Most Wanted, Funny Cide, Evening Attire, and Volponi.

When he resurfaced as a 4-year-old in Santa Anita's San Bernardino April 3, he easily defeated Total Impact, who won last week's Grade 1 Hollywood Gold Cup, and Even the Score, who won the Grade 2 Californian and Grade 2 Mervyn LeRoy.

Provided he came out of the Suburban in good order, it's my feeling he should be pointed for Del Mar's Grade 1 Pacific Classic instead of races at Saratoga. It's apparent he seems more comfortable out West, and Mr. Clement knows a thing or two about shipping to the West, having won stakes in Southern California with Voodoo Dancer in addition to Dynever.

It also doesn't hurt that the Pacific Classic might not be the strongest race in the world. Pleasantly Perfect is supposed to go and is training well, but he hasn't run since the Dubai World Cup. Medaglia d'Oro is gone, and so is Congaree. Southern Image is nursing a bad foot and likely won't go. The top 3-year-olds are targeting races like the Haskell, Jim Dandy, and Travers.

Watch out for Freddy

The Grade 2 Sunset Handicap on Sunday, closing day of the Hollywood meet, is missing the West's top turf runners. Neither Sabiango, winner of the Grade 1 Charlie Whittingham, nor Epicentre, who finished first in last winter's Grade 1 Hollywood Turf Cup only to be disqualified, are running. Meteor Storm has been racing in the East and isn't scheduled to run until the end of August.

It's Bobby Frankel who may hold the ace in the Sunset with Continuously, who benefited from stablemate Epicentre's disqualification in the Turf Cup.

This year, Continuously has made two starts, finishing second in the San Luis Obispo Handicap at Santa Anita in February and sixth in the Whittingham here on June 12. In the Whittingham, Continuously was too far back, and the 1 1/4 miles of that race may be a bit sharp for him. The 1 1/2 miles of the Sunset should be more to his liking.

The most interesting entrant, however, is from Argentina. Freddy is expected to make his much-anticipated United States debut in the Sunset. Owned by Gary Tanaka and trained by Donald Burke II, Freddy hasn't run since December 2002, when he easily won the Group 1 Premio Carlos Pellegrini in Argentina. That race is to South America what the Arc is to Europe.

Freddy has lost just once in six career starts, to another Argentine monster named Peasant. Freddy not only avenged that defeat in the Pellegrini, but had also beaten Peasant in the Group 1 Argentine Derby. Freddy suffered a knee injury last August, and has been on the bench until now.

It's asking a lot of a horse to come back from such a long layoff and go 12 furlongs against good horses, but Freddy isn't facing the likes of Bienamado or Storming Home. And as evidenced by his sensational Argentine record, he is something special. Consider yourself warned.