01/21/2002 1:00AM

Halo's Stride finds a home on turf

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HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Trainer Steve Penrod hasn't had Halo's Stride very long. But he likes what he has seen so far Halo's Stride, an improving 4-year-old, is the horse to beat in Wednesday's $36,000 allowance turf feature at Gulfstream Park.

Halo's Stride had been trained by Robert Desensi since launching his career during the fall of 2000. But after a superb grass debut at Churchill Downs in his 3-year-old finale, common sense dictated sending the horse to south Florida to continue his turf career this winter instead of leaving him in Kentucky where there would be no grass racing until spring.

Halo's Stride was turned over to Penrod, a Gulfstream regular for the past several seasons, in early December and quickly duplicated his initial grass outing when he finished second, beaten a half-length by Jo Jo's Boy, here on Jan. 5.

"He ran a winning race," said Penrod. "He didn't do anything wrong. I don't think he ever saw the other horse coming. He just got beat. I've only had him about six weeks, but it really looks like he enjoys the turf."

Jockey Jerry Bailey has won with eight of his 16 rides on the grass this meet, and that automatically qualifies his mount, the improving What a Show, as a prime contender.

What a Show returns to allowance company after finishing a wide-running fifth in the Wild Event Stakes to end his 3-year-old campaign. Trained by Leo Azpurua Jr., What a Show rallied to a well deserved half- length victory over preliminary allowance company in his previous start.

Illusionary finished seven lengths behind Halo's Stride earlier this month but is eligible to improve on that performance. A son of Woodman, Illusionary had moved forward in each of his previous four starts that included an allowance victory at Keeneland and a third-place finish behind Broadway Snowman under second-level allowance conditions in New York.

Rack Em Up, another exiting the Jo J's Boy race on Jan. 5, adds blinkers after finishing a troubled ninth in his 2002 debut. He rallied from far back to defeat optional claiming allowance company three weeks earlier at Calder.

Divine Providence dropped a tough head decision when stretching out to a mile for the first time at Calder on Nov. 25 but figures to get tested early by Capazuri and Explosive Move in this spot.

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