07/10/2001 11:00PM

Take your pick of two sharp fillies


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Crystal Halo and Geronimo's Joy are the two obvious contenders in Friday's Woodbine feature, a $62,500 optional claimer for fillies and mares going a mile on the grass.

Crystal Halo, a $180,000 yearling purchase by Sam-Son Farm, exhibited some promise when she was beaten a neck in her second start as a 3-year-old in June 2000. She was a bang-up second to future stakes winner Muntej when she faced males in a 1 3/8-mile allowance in August, but was a beaten favorite in maiden special weight company in each of her next two races.

Crystal Halo finally graduated going about a mile in a Fair Grounds maiden special March 17, but she could only manage a sixth-place finish when she resurfaced five weeks later in a tough allowance race at Keeneland.

Crystal Halo was bet down to 2-5 in a 1 1/4-mile allowance here June 23, but had to work hard to get the money. She made a bold three-wide move on the far turn under Todd Kabel, and then wore down a persistent Mossy Moor in the stretch to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

Kabel retains the mount on Crystal Halo, who is trained by Mark Frostad.

Geronimo's Joy posted an impressive victory when she returned from an extended layoff in her lone appearance of the meet in an $80,000 optional claimer June 13. She trailed a tightly bunched six-horse field after a slow half-mile in that 1 1/16-mile race, and lacked running room in the stretch before surging late to prevail by three-quarters of a length.

Geronimo's Joy raced only three times last year, including a victory in a first-level allowance. She was a troubled third in the Grade 3 Natalma Stakes as a 2-year-old in 1999.

Patrick Husbands, second to Kabel in the rider standings through last Sunday, has the call from trainer Steve Owens.

Rounding out the field for Friday's headliner are Semester's End, Cassia, Deadly Vices, Mema's Turning Red, Ginger Gerry, and Duchess of Domasca.

Mema's Turning Red's claim to fame is her front-running score in the 1999 Natalma, but she has won only once in her last 11 starts, and her best result in three starts this year is a third-place finish.

Ginger Gerry comes off a sixth-place finish at this distance in the Carotene Stakes, in which she was beaten 4 1/4 lengths after a wide journey. She earned a 95 Beyer in winning her seasonal debut over a sloppy track.