10/22/2008 12:00AM

Hystericalady can push up her price tag

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LEXINGTON, Ky. - When the field goes to the post Friday for the Breeders' Cup Ladies' Classic, Hystericalady's connections will be hoping for vindication before they say good-bye to their Grade 1-winning mare on Nov. 3 at the Keeneland November mixed sale.

Hystericalady, by far the best runner partners George Todaro and Tom Clark have ever owned, is looking for a chance to beat two major rivals in the Ladies' Classic: favored Zenyatta, who ended Hystericalady's three-race win streak in the Lady's Secret in September, and Ginger Punch, who narrowly beat Hystericalady in last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff before being named champion older female.

Clark called the 2007 Distaff finish one of his favorite races, with Hystericalady finishing a neck behind Ginger Punch after they bumped in the stretch, and a neck ahead of Octave. But he admits he would rather not have a repeat in 2008.

"We'd love to turn the tables," Clark said, adding that a second to either Zenyatta or Ginger Punch would be an honor.

Longtime racehorse owner Todaro and Clark, who operates Rancho San Miguel in California, own Hystericalady in partnership with trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Hollendorfer first spotted Hystericalady, a daughter of Distorted Humor, at the 2004 Keeneland September yearling sale and paid $125,000 for her. One of Todaro's sons named her.

"Jerry allows me to buy in on any of his purchases," Clark, 54, said. "That year, she was the only one I wanted to buy a piece of. We thought her price was just great value for her conformation and her breeding."

The chestnut filly came to auction just one year after Funny Cide had made her sire a household name.

"At that time, Distorted Humor was just on the rise, and I thought he might end up being a replacement to Storm Cat," Clark said. "I don't make many good forecasts, but that might have been a good one."

Hystericalady's dam wasn't as famous but had a lot to recommend her. Sacramentada was a Chilean champion who won the Grade 2 Hawthorne Handicap in 1992, and she already had produced a pair of stakes-placed runners in Torrey Pines and Broad Picture.

The $125,000 gamble so far has yielded more than $2.3 million in purse earnings for Hollendorfer, Todaro, and Clark. Hystericalady won the Humana Distaff last year and has eight stakes wins, including back-to-back wins in the Molly Pitcher. She has yet to score on the synthetic surface at Santa Anita. But Todaro points out that she trains on a synthetic track in Northern California and has finished second on the surface.

"She was beaten last time, but I think the jockey sort of eased up when he knew it was lost," Todaro, 71, said of Hystericalady's recent loss to Zenyatta. "She's been training well. Cautiously optimistic, as the politicians say."

With a good Ladies' Classic performance, the 5-year-old Hystericalady also could give the partnership a big payday in the auction ring. Todaro said the team has "tentatively" entered her in Keeneland November with the Taylor Made agency, and though he says he can imagine a scenario in which the partners keep her for another season, he admits she's more likely to sell on Nov. 3.

"She's 5, she's run a lot, she's been across the country several times. I think maybe it's time," said Todaro, adding that he has no interest in breeding.

"With her pedigree, she's a notch above the better-quality California-bred mares anyway," Clark explained. "To hold her value, she needs a Kentucky stallion. So I never saw her as part of the broodmare mix at Rancho San Miguel."

Nor is Clark tempted to buy out his partners, because he doesn't think his budget will stretch as far as the price Hystericalady is likely to make.

"She's out of my league," he said. "She's the first Grade 1 winner I've ever owned a piece of, and I will miss her dearly."