09/24/2008 11:00PM

Weather has Clement second-guessing himself


ELMONT, N.Y. - The continued emergence of Mauralakana as a leader in the filly and mare turf division does not surprise trainer Christophe Clement.

"From the winter on, she has always trained well and raced well," Clement said. "She is a good filly."

Mauralakana bids for her fifth straight stakes win, and second straight Grade 1 victory, Saturday in the $600,000 Flower Bowl Invitational at Belmont Park.

The 5-year-old Mauralakana blossomed this season, winning 5 of 6 races since joining Clement's barn.

Mauralakana faces five rivals in the 1 1/4-mile race that could be run on a soft course, if forecasts of a wet weekend in New York are accurate. The Flower Bowl is the first leg of a $500,000 guaranteed all-stakes pick four that concludes with the Jockey Club Gold Cup.

The Flower Bowl became the target after Mauralakana won the Beverly D. at Arlington on Aug. 9, a Breeders' Cup Challenge victory that secured her a berth in the Filly and Mare Turf at Santa Anita on Oct. 24.

With rain expected, Clement had a wistful regret about not sending Mauralakana west for Saturday's Yellow Ribbon Stakes at Santa Anita.

"With the weather, maybe I should have gone to California," Clement said. "But at the moment, she is running here. She's doing well. She's training well. Everything is a go."

A solid effort Saturday will send Mauralakana back to the Breeders' Cup and the race in which she ran seventh in 2006.

The future is not as clear for Communique, a developing filly trained by Rusty Arnold who stepped up her game in her last two starts at Arlington. After winning the Grade 3 Modesty Handicap, Communique rallied from ninth to get second, beaten only 1 1/4 lengths by Mauralakana, in the Beverly D.

The Flower Bowl will determine her Breeders' Cup status.

"We want to know where we stand," Arnold said. "The only way to figure that out is to run against the top fillies. I thought the Beverly D. was a quality race, top to bottom. We get an extra sixteenth of mile here, which helps us."

Hostess holds the distinction of being the last horse to beat Mauralakana back in March in the Grade 3 Orchid Handicap at Gulfstream Park.

Jade Queen, Palmilla, and Dynaforce complete the field.