08/14/2002 11:00PM

Hello Lila will be closing


FERNDALE, Calif. - Speed has been extremely effective on Ferndale's tight-turned half-mile track, but trainer Ron White hopes that distance will overcome the front-running basis when he sends out Hello Lila in the $10,000 Don Harmon Memorial-Les Mademoiselle Stakes Saturday.

Seven fillies and mares will start in the 1 1/16-mile headliner, as the Humboldt County Fair heads into the homestretch of its 106th race meeting.

Strictly a late closer, Hello Lila will bank on overhauling a front-running pack of challengers in the Les Mademoiselle, in which runners will cross the finish line three times.

The Ron White-trained Hello Lila ran down the speed here last year to beat $5,000 claimers and appears well-spotted to break a long win drought that has lasted since a victory against $6,250 claimers last October at Fresno.

"The distance will certainly suit her," said White, "and she has been training very well here. Of course, it would not hurt if there is a speed duel up front."

The 7-year-old Hello Lila has been freshened since finishing a fast-closing second at Vallejo going one mile July 15.

Miss Misbehavin', who had trouble negotiating the turns at Ferndale last week when she ran sixth in the Charlie Palmer Handicap, and Oregon import Carey's Blue Mon, who was third in three straight stakes races at Grants Pass, figure to offer the main opposition. Miss Misbehavin' won a Stockton mile in June where she finished six lengths ahead of Hello Lila.

Post time for the eight-race program will be 1:55 p.m.

* Hall of Fame jockey Julie Krone will appear before the races in an autograph and question-answer session at 12:30 p.m.

* The Ferndale meeting will conclude Sunday with the $12,500 Humboldt County Marathon Handicap at 1 5/8 miles, and an appearance by supermule Black Ruby in the $6,500 Cream City Mule Stakes.