03/28/2002 1:00AM

Turf Paradise: Genie Magic in soft spot


PHOENIX - So far Turf Paradise agrees with Genie Magic. Now it's a matter of finding the right level.

A 3-year-old filly, she may have it Saturday, in the featured seventh race, a $20,000 claiming race for a field of nine 3-year-old fillies going 5 1/2 furlongs.

Genie Magic, trained by Eric Kruljac, figures to go favored mainly because of the company she has been keeping, as opposed to her form.

A daughter of Flying Continental, she spent the early part of her career in Southern California. After failing to make an impact against $25,000 claimers there Jan. 18, Kruljac shipped her to Turf Paradise for a Feb. 23 race with allowance non-winners-of-two-lifetime foes.

She finished second to Hawley Lake, well clear of third. Kruljac wheeled her back against allowance non-winners-of-a-race-other-than, which included older horses. Genie Magic was unable to make an impact, finishing fifth, beaten 3 1/2 lengths. But she kept to her task, and wasn't far away from being competitive. The move to this class level might make her a winner.

Seth Martinez, aboard for her Feb. 23 effort, has the call.

Her main opposition may come from hot claimer Lunatic Fringe and impressive debut winner First Lady Patton. Lunatic Fringe didn't seem to be going anywhere in Southern California and, like Genie Magic, seemed to bloom when shipped here. She graduated for fun Feb. 17, then faced $10,500 non-winners-of-two-lifetime claiming foes Mar. 3 - validating her maiden win with another win.

Trainer Dennis Hall doubles her in value Saturday, and also asks her to take on open claimers, so the hurdles are not insignificant. Martinez was up for those three good local races, but Saturday ends up on Genie Magic. Sandi Gann has the ride.

Gann rode Genie Magic last time.

First Lady Patton debuted Mar. 5, and after dueling early drew clear to win easily while being geared down. She must deal with winners for the first time and in the race is only her second career start. But, trained by Karl Myers, she clearly has talent.