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Thursday, March 15
Raging Fever opens year on closing day




HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - The final day of the 2001 Gulfstream Park meeting is the seasonal starting point for a couple of Grade 1 stakes-winners from 2000.

Raging Fever, a multiple Grade 1 winning 2-year-old filly last year, and Hal's Hope, the 2000 Florida Derby winner, top Friday's undercard action on a closing-day that features the $250,000 Bonnie Miss Stakes. The Yankee Affair, a five-furlong turf stakes for colts and geldings, is also on tap.

Raging Fever, who won the Matron and Frizette, heads an eight-horse field entered for the $65,000 Dame Mysterieuse Stakes at seven furlongs. Two races later, Hal's Hope makes his 4-year-old debut in 1 1/16-mile optional claimer/four-other-than allowance.

Raging Fever has not been out since a sixth-place finish in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, her only loss in a six-race campaign. Her inability to win around two turns in her only attempt cost her the Eclipse Award as the nation's top juvenile filly.

Raging Fever has been training extremely well in the morning, and trainer Mark Hennig is looking for a good effort in what he hopes will be a prep for the Beaumont Stakes on April 22 at Keeneland.

"She's grown up a lot mentally, not so much physically," Hennig said. "I think she'll be ready."

Raging Fever, who will carry 121 pounds under Jerry Bailey, will rule a strong favorite in the race. Her main competition figures to come from Mandy's Gold, who is undefeated in three starts; Hazino, winner of a minor stakes here on Feb. 25; and Chasm, a preliminary allowance winner trained by Shug McGaughey.

About an hour after Raging Fever runs, Hal's Hope returns to the site of his greatest triumph - a head victory over High Yield in the Florida Derby - trying to end a nine-race losing streak. Hal's Hope has not been out since a fifth-place finish in the Pete Axthelm Stakes on turf at Calder.

Hal's Hope meets another returnee in Tahkodha Hills. Winner of the 2000 Lone Star Derby, Tahkodha Hill has not run since a ninth-place finish in the Belmont Stakes.

Sejm's Madness, who was second behind Elvi Gamble in the Happy Trails Stakes at Calder on Jan. 2, looks like the one to beat in the $65,000 Yankee Affair. Elvi Gamble set a course record winning Wednesday's Marshua's River Stakes.

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