02/01/2008 12:00AM

Delay no concern for Hystericalady

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ARCADIA, Calif. - If the Grade 1, seven-furlong Santa Monica Handicap had been run last Sunday as scheduled, Hystericalady would have been the cinch of the winter meet.

Saturday at Santa Anita, nothing has changed - on paper, Hystericalady remains a slam dunk.

Six days after the Santa Monica for fillies and mares was canceled due to track condition - the Cushion Track at Santa Anita has not been draining properly after rain - Hystericalady will be favored to commence her 2008 campaign with a win in the rescheduled $250,000 sprint.

The forecast Saturday is for dry weather, and the 11-race card includes five stakes. Bettors taking the short price on Hystericalady in the Santa Monica (race 7), might not have to worry about the veteran Pussycat Doll. Her speed figures declined last year, her work pattern is light, she is buried on the rail, and at age 6, she may be winding down.

Not so for Hystericalady, whose trainer Jerry Hollendorfer said the six-day postponement is no worry. Throughout December and January, Hystericalady did not miss a beat in workouts on the all-weather Tapeta Footings surface at Golden Gate Fields.

"We had her pretty well-prepared; we thought she was very fit," Hollendorfer said, suggesting that the one-week delay will not influence her performance.

Hystericalady shipped Jan. 22 to Santa Anita, and since then the main track has been closed much of the time. Hystericalady trained mostly on the infield training track, and worked a slow half-mile Tuesday on the reopened Santa Anita main track.

Her 2007 campaign - which included a win in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill and a second, beaten a neck, in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth - stamped her as one of the top fillies in the country, and at age 5, Hollendorfer believes the 7-for-15 millionaire is as good as last year.

"You can only hope, but we think she is, yes," Hollendorfer said, adding the qualifier, "you never know first time back."

Rafael Bejarano rides Hystericalady, who drew post 5 and figures for a great trip pressing likely pacesetter Overly Tempting. Meanwhile, Garrett Gomez rides Pussycat Doll, whose recent works bear little similarity to the pattern into her four-length Santa Monica win last year.

Pussycat Doll has not raced since Oct. 19; her longest recent published work is five furlongs. According to trainer Bob Baffert, she has been galloping out strongly, and he said two of the five-furlong works were actually seven-furlong drills.

Regardless, Pussycat Doll is up against it. Although she earned a 100 Beyer Speed Figure in her final start of 2007 while racing on a wet track she has been known to like, her four previous starts were lackluster. The Santa Monica is the first start for Pussycat Doll since she was purchased for $2.3 million at auction by Barbaro owners Roy and Gretchen Jackson.

Graded turf stakes winner Society Hostess entered the Santa Monica by necessity. She was scheduled to run last Sunday on grass, but racing was scrapped. Society Hostess won her only previous start on a synthetic surface (Polytrack at Keeneland) in fall 2006; her 18-start career includes 7 wins from 17 starts on grass.

Overly Tempting won a first-level allowance last time on the lead; Intangaroo won a first-level allowance last time closing from far back. Meanwhile, Silky Smooth looms an interesting longshot. The 3-for-11 stakes winner was scheduled to run Dec. 29 in the Grade 1 La Brea, but got sick.

Since then, her workouts have been outstanding for Jeff Mullins, and she has won on Polytrack at Woodbine. Referring to the sandy surface at Santa Anita, Mullins cautioned, "She's never run on sand-thetic."