06/12/2008 12:00AM

Hystericalady giving it 'her best go'


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Last year, following a victory in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on Kentucky Derby Day, Hystericalady returned to her California base and spent late spring and early summer racing on Hollywood's Cushion Track, finishing second in the Grade 2 Milady and third in the Grade 1 Vanity.

This year, trainer Jerry Hollendorfer is altering her racing schedule. Rather than immediately returning her to synthetic racing, he is starting her instead in Saturday's Grade 2, $300,000 Fleur De Lis at Churchill Downs on the Stephen Foster undercard.

The reason is simple. Dirt racing is "her best go," Hollendorfer said. "She's run well on synthetics, just hasn't won."

She has won plenty on dirt - the Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks over the track's old dirt track in 2006, the Humana Distaff and Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth in 2007, and the Grade 3 Azeri at Oaklawn this year.

One dirt race she didn't win was this year's Humana Distaff. Breaking from the rail in the seven-furlong race, she dueled with four others for the lead, and after opening up on the field in midstretch, weakened in the final furlong to finish third, beaten a head by late runners Intangaroo and Baroness Thatcher.

"It didn't fall her way," Hollendorfer said.

Matched against lesser opponents in the Fleur De Lis, Hystericalady has been installed the 4-5 morning-line favorite in the six-horse field.

Garrett Gomez rides Hystericalady, last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff runner-up and a winner of over $1.3 million for owner Rancho San Miguel.

She again faces pressure for the early lead, since Peach Flambe, Cowgirls Don't Cry, and longshot Initforthekandy prefer to race on or close to the lead.

If a quick pace develops in the Fleur De Lis, it would benefit the improving Kathleens Reel, a stalker. A half-sister to Fountain of Youth winner Cool Coal Man, she has blossomed over the past six months, winning a stakes race at Delta Downs in late December and hitting the board in 3 of 4 starts this year, including a third in the Grade 3 Sixty Sails Handicap at Hawthorne April 19.

Former jockey Ray Sibille - who rode Great Communicator to victory in the 1988 Breeders' Cup Turf at Churchill Downs - trains her for Eagle Valley Farm.

"It's a step up, but we are hoping to grab all we can here," Sibille said.

Calvin Borel rides Kathleens Reel, who carries 114 pounds, seven less than Hystericalady.

The only entrant with a victory at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Fleur De Lis is Peach Flambe, who won the Cicada Stakes for Florida-breds at that distance April 19 at Gulfstream Park. She also ran second to Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Ginger Punch at 1 1/8 miles in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff at Gulfstream in January.

Besides Hystericalady, Cowgirls Don't Cry is the only graded stakes winner in the field, having won the Grade 2 Shuvee on the lead at Belmont May 17.

Seven of her eight races have been at a mile or less, however, and the one time she raced at 1 1/8 miles, in the Next Move Handicap at Aqueduct in March, she was eased in the stretch. Cowgirls Don't Cry was also entered in the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park.