12/18/2003 1:00AM

Campsie Fells should be on lead


NEW YORK - For all the weekend warriors out there, this is your last chance to get some Christmas money. However, if your fancy is stakes racing, there isn't a lot to choose from Saturday, as might be expected toward the end of December.

Oh, Hollywood Park will present the Grade 1, $200,000 Hollywood Futurity. But, unless your middle name is "Cheap," you won't be able to spread much holiday cheer with Lion Heart looking like a likely winner at a very short price against a small field. Hollywood also has the $150,000 Dahlia Handicap on Saturday's card.

Better opportunities can be found at Calder, where both the Frances A. Genter and Pete Axthelm stakes, each at 7 1/2 furlongs on the turf, attracted overflow fields.

The Ladies Handicap at Aqueduct and the Jim Edgar Illinois Futurity for Illinois-bred 2-year-olds at Hawthorne are the other six-figure stakes on the schedule. Each has a $100,000 purse.

Here are the stakes in which I'll try to get Christmas money:

Frances A. Genter

Campsie Fells is a strong play. Not only is she taking a substantial class drop after competing in Grade 1 events in her first two starts in this country, she actually ran well in both of those races.

The first was in the Garden City Breeders' Cup, in which Campsie Fells bid for the lead at the top of the stretch despite being caught wide throughout. She was out-kicked late but still was beaten only 2 1/4 lengths for second by Dimitrova.

Campsie Fells made her most recent appearance in the Queen Elizabeth II Challenge Cup. She was rank when taken back off the early lead to allow her uncoupled and more highly regarded stablemate Maiden Tower an uncontested lead. Maiden Tower led every jump but the last, while Campsie Fells was beaten just 2 1/4 lengths.

With the way Campsie Fells wanted to run in the QEII, and with the main speeds in this race (Feisty Bull and Ivanavinalot) marooned in outside posts, I expect Campsie Fells to be right with the lead from the inside.

Pete Axthelm

The main speeds in this race, Sharp Impact and Hear No Evil, also drew toward the outside. They will have to work hard to save any ground, and I think their early efforts will probably set this race up for a closer. G P Fleet is my pick.

G P Fleet's last two turf races in Kentucky were solid, and the most recent of them, a victory in a tough optional claimer at Churchill Downs, was good enough for a Beyer Speed Figure of 96, which is among the best in this field. G P Fleet had excuses in his last two stakes attempts, and he demonstrated last time out that he maintains sharp form, when he came from way back to narrowly miss despite a troubled trip in an off-the-turf optional claimer.

Arizona Juvenile

Bold Merit won a race similar to this last time out by almost five lengths, with an 81 Beyer that most of the rest of these can only dream about. But, Bold Merit was hard pressed to beat Bradford in a maiden race two starts back, and I think Bradford, who subsequently won by almost 12 lengths, can turn the tables on him here.

There are two reasons for that. First, Bold Merit went into that maiden race off a solid third in his first start, while Bradford was coming off a dismal 13th at Santa Anita in his debut. Bradford figures to be a fitter customer for this meeting.

Secondly, Bold Merit got the jump early on Bradford in their first encounter. I think Bradford will be ahead of Bold Merit early this time. Maybe Bold Merit will catch him, but with the likely disparity in odds, I'll take a shot he won't.