10/10/2002 11:00PM

First look at fast filly from West

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ELMONT, N.Y. - This time of year, the buzz on 2-year-old fillies centers on the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies. Sunday at Belmont Park, the focus will be on a field of seven juvenile fillies in the $150,000 Astarita who are probably not headed to the Breeders' Cup.

The Grade 2 Astarita, a 6 1/2-furlong race, drew a competitive bunch, including stakes winner Humorous Lady; impressive maiden winner Harford Ghost; and the undefeated Big Score. All starters carry 117 pounds.

Humorous Lady, a daughter of Distorted Humor, hasn't run since winning the Mid-Peninsula Stakes at the Bay Meadows Fair by eight lengths on Aug. 11. She opened a clear early lead and clicked off a first quarter in a sizzling 21.35 seconds on her way to a final time of 1:02.72 for 5 1/2 furlongs. The chart of the race read, "was never asked for her best."

After the Bay Meadows race, S. David Plummer bought the filly and gave her to Michael R. Smith to train. Smith said Humorous Lady caught his eye because he was familiar with and liked the filly's dam, My Glamorous One. Smith worked as an assistant to trainer Gary Jones while My Glamorous One was in the barn.

Smith said Humorous Lady, who also won the CTBA Stakes at Del Mar in July at 40-1, got sick shortly after arriving in his barn.

"The virus hit her pretty hard and we lost about 2 1/2 weeks," said Smith, who will saddle his first New York starter. "This race is the first chance we had to run her."

Jerry Bailey rides Humorous Lady, who drew post 7.

Harford Ghost turned heads in her career debut at Monmouth on Aug. 31. Trained by Deborah Bodner, Harford Ghost won the six-furlong race by 13 1/2 lengths after setting quick early fractions. She earned a 95 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort, the highest in the Astarita field.

The track was listed as fast for Harford Ghost's maiden win, but Bodner said there was moisture in the surface.

"It was a day after a big rain and the track was pretty heavy," Bodner said.

Edgar Prado rides Harford Ghost, who drew the rail.

Big Score is 3 for 3, including a romp in the Kindergarten at Philadelphia Park last month.

The Astarita has a lot of speed, which could set things up for Chimichurri, who stalked the pace in the Jersey Jumper at The Meadowlands before powering home a 3 1/2-length winner.

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