12/18/2003 1:00AM

Genter a better race for 'Campsie'


MIAMI - The first time Campsie Fells and Ocean Drive met, it was against Grade 1 competition in Keeneland's Queen Elizabeth II Cup. The opposition figures to be a little less formidable when they meet again in Saturday's $100,000 Frances A. Genter Stakes at Calder.

The 7 1/2-furlong Genter shares top billing on Saturday's 12-race program with its male counterpart, the $100,000 Pete Axthelm Stakes. As expected, both events will be decided by a full gate-load of 12 3-year-olds.

Campsie Fells finished fifth in the QE II, three-quarters of a length behind Ocean Drive and just 2 1/4 lengths behind the winner, Film Maker. The outing was just the second for Campsie Fells since her arrival from Europe during the summer and her first for trainer Christophe Clement.

"She really didn't have an excuse in the QE II, although I thought Ocean Drive might have had a little better trip," said Clement, who won the 1999 Genter with Seducer and a division of the race the following year with Zeiting. "The competition doesn't appear to be as strong in this one, and I think if she runs anything close to her last race she'll be very tough."

Clement also looks for the Genter to set up well for Campsie Fells.

"There is a lot of speed in the field, and she should get a perfect stalking trip," said Clement.

Eibar Coa will ride Campsie Fells for the first time.

Ocean Drive prompted the pace but lacked a closing bid to finish fourth, 1 1/2 lengths behind Film Maker, in the QE II. She remained in Kentucky after the race and finished a tiring sixth five weeks later over a yielding course in the Grade 2 Mrs. Revere at Churchill Downs. Earlier this season, Ocean Drive accounted for the Appalachian and Gaviola Stakes for trainer Todd Pletcher.

John Velazquez, who rode Ocean Drive to a pair of stakes wins during her 2-year-old campaign, will be back aboard Saturday.

The dark horse in the field could be the much improved Changing World, who has posted back-to-back, career-high 89 Beyer Speed Figures in her last two starts for trainer Barclay Tagg. In her stakes debut, she finished third behind Betty's Wish and Clement's Where We Left Off in the Starine at Belmont on Sept. 24. She has trained extremely well since shipping to south Florida last month.

The presence of Ivanavinalot, Feisty Bull, and Letthefreedomroar assures an honest pace in the Genter.

In her turf debut against older horses earlier this month in the Grade 3 My Charmer Handicap, Ivanavinalot showed she could handle the grass by finishing third after setting a lively pace.

"That was a make or break race for her," said trainer Kathleen O'Connell. "If she hadn't run so well she would have been going home as a broodmare."

The Axthelm may be even more wide open than the Genter.

Magic Mecke leads the home forces. He comes into the race in peak form off a pair of easy grass wins, including a 2 1/2-length victory in the What a Threat Stakes.

Sharp Impact's form has tailed off somewhat since his victory in the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes in July. He will attempt to rebound while turning back in distance for the Axthelm, but figures to be pressed for the early lead by Hear No Evil.

The biggest question mark in the race is New York Hero, who'll make his turf debut Saturday.

New York Hero put himself on the 2003 Triple Crown trail by winning the Grade 2 Lanes End in March and ultimately finished sixth in the Preakness. After taking some time off this summer, New York Hero returned with a couple of strong efforts against older allowance competition before being overmatched in the Grade 1 Cigar Mile.

Funny Cide looks sharp in workout

Funny Cide turned in his most impressive work since shipping to south Florida, breezing five furlongs in 1:00.20 under regular exercise rider Robin Smullen at the Palm Meadows training center Thursday.

"She took a hold and was just sitting on him the whole way," said Tagg, who is pointing Funny Cide, the Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner, for the Grade 1 Donn Handicap on Feb. 7.

Calder to build card room

Calder Race Course will construct a card room during the off season that track management hopes can be in operation for the opening of the 2004 season starting on April 26.

"We've made the decision to take advantage of the law which allows pari-mutuel facilities in this state to operate a card room, although at the moment we have no game plan in place other than we've engaged an architect," track president Ken Dunn said Thursday. "Our intention is to be in operation by opening day, if possible. We view this as an opportunity to offer the same alternative gambling as the rest of the marketplace with the goal of hopefully generating revenue for both purses and our own bottom line."

Tampa Bay Downs is currently the only Thoroughbred track in Florida operating a card room, although the rooms are prevalent at many of the jai alai and greyhound facilities in the state. Legislation was passed last spring increasing the table limits in card rooms statewide from $10 to $200.

"We're not expecting the card rooms to do anything meaningful as far as our purses are concerned," said Dunn. "What this industry still needs is VLT's or slot machines."