10/14/2002 12:00AM

Humorous Lady's lead nearly vanishes

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Humorous Lady, under Jerry Bailey, opened up a huge early lead and was able to hold off the hard-charging Fast Cookie by a nose to win Sunday's Grade 2, $150,000 for 2-year-old fillies at Belmont Park.

It was the fourth consecutive victory for Humorous Lady and first since being bought by S. David Plummer and trainer Michael Smith.

Humorous Lady's speed took Bailey a bit by surprise, as leaving the starting gate she opened up a 2 1/2-length lead after running an opening quarter in 21.91 seconds. After shrugging off Big Score around the turn, Humorous Lady had a three-length lead at the eighth pole before beginning to tire. Fast Cookie, who was 8 1/2 lengths out of it after a half-mile, rallied strongly in the stretch only to fall short.

Humorous Lady ($14) covered the 6 1/2 furlongs in 1:17.76 over a sloppy track. It was the fourth consecutive win on the card for Bailey.

"She's one of the fastest horses I've ever been on,'' Bailey said. "When the gate opened I let her out of there and she took off. I wish I hadn't asked her to run so hard early on. She got tired, but she ran awfully hard early.''

* Boston Bull ($3.60) made a successful stakes debut, romping to a front-running four-length victory in the Grade 3, $103,700 Cowdin Stakes.

"We planned to stalk the speed, but he broke so sharp that Johnny just let him run,'' said trainer Todd Pletcher. "He was impressive today and I think he'll go longer.''

Boston Bull will probably be pointed to the juvenile races at Aqueduct in the fall such as the Nashua on Nov. 2 or the Remsen on Nov. 30.