10/05/2001 11:00PM

Joanies Bella looks best of Best

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GROVE CITY, Ohio - The highlight of Beulah Park's fall meeting takes place in a special Monday-afternoon card of racing, when the track plays host to the 15th annual Best of Ohio Championships.

The Best of Ohio series consists of five races for Ohio-breds with purses totaling $375,000. The series rotates amongst Ohio's three Thoroughbred tracks - Thistledown, Beulah Park, and River Downs - on a yearly basis.

Joanies Bella will become the first horse in the history of the series to enter off a graded stakes victory when she starts as the likely prohibitive favorite in the $75,000 Best of Ohio Juvenile Fillies. Joanies Bella captured the Grade 3 Arlington Washington Lassie at Arlington Park on Sept. 22 for trainer Tim Hamm.

A daughter of Mercer Mill, Joanies Bella had won the $100,000 Pepsi Bassonette Stakes at River Downs in her previous start. Overall she sports a career record of 4-1-0 from seven starts, good for over $178,000 in earnings for her owners, Dan Martin and Jerry Ayers. Two of her losses came at the hands of the ultra-talented Cashier's Dream and the other against males. In her only start against Ohio-bred fillies, Joanies Bella scored a 12 1/4-length win in the Tah Dah stakes at River Downs in July.

Joanies Bella failed to scare away the competition, however, as a field of 15 was drawn in the Juvenile Fillies, although only 14 will be permitted to start in the race. Craig Perret, who rode the filly to victory in the Bassonette, will be in for the mount Monday. The 1 1/16-mile event will be Joanies Bella's first career start around two turns.

The Pyrite Stable entry of Majestic Dinner and Fervent Affair take on the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Unbridled Time in the afternoon's richest race, the $100,000, 1 1/4-mile Best of Ohio Endurance Championship.

Majestic Dinner, a 4-year-old gelding, enters the event in top form, having scored back-to-back he has scored nine wins in 20 career starts. Regular rider Ricardo Feliciano will be in the saddle in the Endurance. Fervent Affair, also a stakes winner this year, lends support to the entry. Luis Gonzalez has the mount.

Unbridled Time, a 3-year-old son of Unbridled's Song, was upset as the 1-2 favorite by Majestic Dinner in a $75,000 stakes at River Downs in his last start. He dictated the pace in that 1 1/4-mile event but faded to finish third, beaten 2 1/2 lengths. The defeat was his first in three stakes starts against Ohio-breds. In his previous start, he finished second, beaten a head, in the $300,000 Oklahoma Derby, a 1 1/8 mile Grade 3 race, at Remington Park. Bob and Beverly Lewis own the colt, who has over $300,000 in career earnings. Greta Kuntzweiler who has ridden Unbridled Time in his last four starts has a return call for Lukas.

John Q's Winner heads a wide-open field of 11 in the day's first stakes,the $50,000, six-furlong Best of Ohio Sprint Championship. Scott Saito rides John Q's Winner for trainer Rod Madrigal Sr.

U S S Tinosa, who won his maiden last time out in the $75,000 Juvenile Stakes, his first career try around two turns, looms as the one to beat in the 1 1/16-mile Best of Ohio Juvenile Championship. Luis Gonzalez has a return call for trainer Larry Richardson. Watch Me Fire looms as the main threat in the 11-horse field.

Multiple stakes winner Lady Cherie heads a full field of 14 fillies and mares in the $75,000 Best of Ohio Distaff, to be run at 1 1/8 miles. Lady Cherie, who has won two stakes already this year, will have to overcome the outside post position under regular rider Julio Felix but may be up to the task for trainer Michael Nance.

Ashwood C C, who enters off a 19 3/4-length allowance win at Thistledown in her last starts, should play a major roll in the outcome of the Distaff. Scott Saito rides the 3-year-old filly for trainer Rod Madrigal Sr.