08/07/2002 11:00PM

Misbehavin' can handle tight-turned racecourse

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FERNDALE, Calif. - Trainer Tim Bellasis has fond memories of his first trip here in 1992, when he sent out a maiden named Miss Gumdrop to capture the Les Mademoiselle Stakes.

Bellasis has returned in search of his second Humboldt Fair stakes victory with the ultra-consistent Miss Misbehavin' for Saturday's $7,500 Charlie Palmer Handicap.

Named for the California racing official who served for 20 years as racing secretary at the Humboldt County Fair, the 6 1/2-furlong Charlie Palmer attracted six fillies and mares.

"I'm hopeful that [Miss Misbehavin'] runs well in the Charlie Palmer, and then I can run her back in the Mademoiselle next week here," said Bellasis. "She has been a very honest, hard-trying mare who has won seven races for me. No wonder I claimed her back twice this year."

And Bellasis is sure Miss Misbehavin' can handle the tight turns of the half-mile Ferndale oval. The 7-year-old won a $5,000 claiming route race at Pomona, a five-eighths-mile track, last fall.

Still, Oregon import Missy Muffet, who has three straight sprint wins at Grants Pass, will carry highweight of 122 pounds, one more than Miss Misbehavin'.

A literal dragster from the starting gate, Missy Muffet sped to wire-to-wire victories up north and owns three stakes wins on an impressive resume compiled in Oregon. Her biggest win came sprinting in the Diane Kem Handicap last November at Portland Meadows.