04/05/2002 12:00AM

Gulfstream: Mystic Lady gate to wire


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - Picking up where she left off in 2001, Mystic Lady ran her winning streak to four with a three-quarter-length victory over Happily Unbridled in Friday's $75,000 Banshee Breeze Handicap at Gulfstream Park. Jostle, a multiple Grade 1 winner, finished a tiring third in her 2002 debut.

Mystic Lady closed out her 3-year-old campaign last year with three straight victories, including the Grade 2 Cotillion and Grade 3 Honey Bee Handicaps. Despite having been idle for five months, Mystic Lady was fit and ready for the 1 1/16-mile Banshee Breeze.

With regular rider Eibar Coa aboard, Mystic Lady was allowed to set an uncontested and leisurely pace, posting fractions of 25.10 seconds and 49.84. She disposed of Jostle after six furlongs and was all out to withstand a challenge from Happily Unbridled. Jostle finished another seven lengths back in third, followed by Coolbythepool, Castlebrook, and New Real Deal.

Mystic Lady carried co-high weight of 119 pounds, along with Jostle, and paid $3.60. She ran the distance in 1:43.56 over a fast track.

"That first-quarter fraction was nice to see," said Mark Hennig, who trains Mystic Lady for owner Lee Lewis. "What I really liked was the way she picked it up around the turn, going from 1:13-and-3 to 1:37-and-2. I was a little worried about her not having run in so long because she's not the kind of filly who overtrains, but the slow pace helped her have something in reserve for the end."

Hennig says he has no definite plan for Mystic Lady's next start and that the options are the Sixty Sails Handicap at Sportsman's Park on April 28, the Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 3, or the Pimlico Breeders' Cup Distaff May 17.

"This filly hasn't gotten much respect, even though she's gone everywhere and beaten everybody," said Hennig. "I think she may be good enough to have something to say about the Breeders' Cup [Distaff] this year."