06/20/2002 12:00AM

Joanies Bella starts '02 campaign in Annie Oakley


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Joanies Bella, winner of the Grade 3 Arlington-Washington Lassie at Arlington Park last year, makes her 2002 debut Saturday at Thistledown in the $50,000 Annie Oakley Stakes, which has drawn a field of 10 Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies.

Joanies Bella, owned by Dan Martin and Jerry Ayres, is a homebred daughter of Mercer Mill. She has posted a lifetime record of 5-1-1 from nine starts, with four of her victories coming in stakes. She earned $234,265 during her 2-year-old campaign.

In her last start, Nov. 30, she was third in the one-mile Pocahontas Stakes at Churchill Downs, beaten 2 1/2 lengths after setting the pace to midstretch. Before that she led every step of the 1 1/16-mile Best of Ohio Juvenile Fillies Stakes at Beulah Park.

Joanies Bella signaled her readiness to begin the 2002 season when she drilled a mile in a spritely 1:40 here June 9 for her trainer, Timothy Hamm. She is the highweight in the field under

126 pounds and will be spotting from 6 to 21 pounds to her rivals. Jeffrey Johnston will come in from Kentucky to ride.

Main opposition for Joanies Bella in the 1 1/16-mile race should come from Crypto's Twinjet and Saratoga Set.