07/04/2002 11:00PM

Joanies Bella tops Cincinnatian

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Joanies Bella, the top 2-year-old filly in Ohio last year, will be a strong favorite in the $50,000 Cincinnatian Stakes, the feature at River Downs. The Cincinnatian, restricted to Ohio-bred 3-year-old fillies, will be contested at 1 1/16 miles on the turf.

None of the major contenders, including Joanies Bella, has tried the turf, nor do any of their bloodlines suggest they will have a great love for the surface. The outcome might ultimately depend on class, and Joanies Bella is the shining star.

In addition to her dominating performances against Ohio-breds last season, Joanies Bella captured a pair of open stakes, the Bassinet at River Downs and the Arlington-Washington Lassie, a Grade 3 event.

On the sidelines since early November, Joanies Bella reappeared two weeks ago in the Annie Oakley at Thistledown. She led until the final furlong before weakening to third, only a half-length back. She was elevated to second because of a disqualification.

With that tightener under her girth, Joanies Bella looks tough to beat.

The main threats are Come Hither and Wars Done. Come Hither, who has three wins and two thirds in five starts, won the Tougaloo Stakes at Thistledown earlier this year, then rallied for third in the Tomboy Stakes, which was rained off the turf, in her last start.

Wars Done, fourth behind Come Hither in the Tougaloo, has crushed allowance foes in two subsequent starts and figures to be stronger in the rematch. Both Come Hither and Wars Done have run well in the mud, which sometimes is an indicator of potential turf ability.