12/17/2001 1:00AM

Weekend Stakes Roundup

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Fair Grounds: Bonapaw relegated to third

NEW ORLEANS - Robin De Nest just keeps getting better and better. The $75,000 F.W. Gaudin Memorial Handicap at Fair Grounds might have been his best race yet.

Robin De Nest ($8.80) rallied relentlessly through the stretch to put away heavily favored Bonapaw, then held on by a nose over Crucible, who surged in the final yards.

The win completed a sweep of the weekend stakes here for trainer Tom Amoss, who won Saturday's Pago Hop with La Recherche.

The Gaudin was supposed to be further validation of Bonapaw's position as the top sprinter in the region. Instead, it was a demonstration of how far Robin De Nest has come. A former claimer who struggled to win his second career race, Robin De Nest was claimed by Amoss for owner Tom Boy Stable here last meet. This season, he has won seven races and more than $300,000.

Robin De Nest rated behind the leaders under jockey Eddie Martin. He made his move turning for home, coming abreast of Bonapaw in midstretch and pushing past at the furlong marker. Martin also managed to hem Crucible inside through the stretch run, and by the time Crucible was steered to the outside it was too late to catch Robin De Nest. Crucible finished a length ahead of Bonapaw. - Marcus Hersh

Aqueduct: 'Comet' goes from last to first

Eye of the Comet took the worst of it in an Aqueduct allowance race last month when he had a tough trip and finished third and then was moved up to second. This time it was clear sailing for Eye of the Comet, the upset winner of the $81,575 Damon Runyon, a 2-year-old stakes for New York-breds.

Eye of the Comet ($40.80), who was ridden by Robert Messina, came from last to first in the seven-horse Damon Runyon for a 6 3/4-length win over Netcong. White Ibis, the favorite, stumbled at the start and finished fifth in his quest to win four consecutive stakes. - Karen M. Johnson

Turfway Park: Crafty Shaw back in peak form

Crafty Shaw, the Rebel Stakes winner whose season was interrupted by a stress fracture, completed his year on a winning note by capturing the $50,000 Prairie Bayou Stakes at Turfway Park in Florence, Ky. Crafty Shaw ($5.60) raced Horrible Evening into defeat before pulling clear to prevail by 1 3/4 lengths over Double Affair. - Marty McGee

* Montana Hoofer, the longest shot in a nine-horse field, took advantage of a speed duel and rallied from nine lengths back with a quarter-mile to race to score a half-length victory in the $25,000 Samuel Handicap at Beulah Park. The betting favorites were John Q's Winner and Leaping Plum.

* Unchallenged at any point, Danthebluegrassman ($6.40) won the $56,988 Gold Rush Stakes at Golden Gate Fields. The 2-year-old, trained by Bob Baffert, went the mile in 1:34.69, which Golden Gate Fields officials said was the fast clocking at the distance ever by a 2-year-old.

* The upsets continued in the Illinois Stallion Stakes series when White O Morn, dismissed at 30-1, edged away from heavily favored Summer Mis to capture the $91,350 Illinois Debutante at Hawthorne Race Course in Stickney, Ill. The triumph by White O Morn ($63.40) followed recent upsets by Out of Options in the Little Sucker and Paddy's Spy in the High Alexander.