07/13/2008 12:00AM

Hystericalady strong in Delaware Handicap


STANTON, Del. - Two years ago, Hystericalady flopped as the 4-5 favorite in the Delaware Oaks, finishing fifth after setting the pace. Trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who owns Hystericalady in partnership with Dr. George Todaro and Tom Clark, felt that race was a fluke, especially since it was contested on an extremely hot and humid day.

The Delaware Handicap's $1 million purse and guaranteed berth in this fall's Ladies Classic on the Breeders' Cup program at Santa Anita were enough to lure Hollendorfer and Hystericalady back to Delaware Park on Sunday. This time, Hystericalady didn't disappoint.

Jockey Garrett Gomez sat patiently in second behind a sensible pace set by 20-1 longshot Lemon Drop Mom, then Hystericalady kicked into high gear when asked and cruised to a four-length win in the 71st running of the Grade 2, 1 1/4-mile stakes for fillies and mares.

Lemon Drop Mom held on for second, three-quarters of a length in front of defending champ Unbridled Belle, the 2-1 favorite.

Based in Northern California, where Hollendorfer is perennially the dominant trainer, Hystericalady was coming off a 7 1/2-length victory in the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis Handicap at Churchill Downs. She shipped back to California after that race and made the 3,000-mile trip to Delaware for Sunday's race.

"She's a pretty good shipper," Hollendorfer said. "But I get a little nervous about shipping her too much. It was time for a race, this was a big purse, and it fit in well."

Winning a million dollar race is actually nothing new for Hollendorfer. Among his nearly 5,200 career victories are scores in million dollar stakes with King Glorious and Heatseeker.

Hystericalady, now 10 for 20 lifetime with earnings of $2,100,556, "ranks right up there with all the great horses I've had," Hollendorfer said.

Although she is 0 for 4 lifetime on synthetic surfaces, including two losses to Nashoba's Key last season, Hollendorfer said he is willing to give her another shot in the Breeders' Cup over Santa Anita's synthetic track.

"I think she can run well on synthetic and we'll try her again on it in the Breeders' Cup," he said.

Unbridled Belle, who was attempting to become the first horse since Nastique in 1988 and 1989 to win back-to-back runnings of the Del Cap, made a four-wide move into the stretch from fifth and rallied mildly to get third. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he intends to point her to the Grade 1 Personal Ensign at Saratoga.

* Magical Forest ($33.60) outfought 6-5 favorite Cherokee Artist in a stretch-long duel to win the Grade 3, $300,000 Barbaro Stakes by a half-length.

The longest shot in a field of five 3-year-olds despite winning his most recent start in an overnight stakes prep for the Barbaro last month, Magical Forest not only re-rallied for jockey Jorge Chavez after Ohio Derby runner-up Cherokee Artist put his head in front at the eighth pole, but also had to survive a stewards' inquiry after the two colts bumped repeatedly in the stretch.

"That was a dogfight. They were pushing each other," said Joe DeMola, who trains Magical Forest for Ernie Paragallo's Paraneck Stable. "You can't stop a dogfight in deep stretch."

Magical Forest, now 4 for 11 lifetime, ran 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.02.

* Wheels Up At Noon ($24.60) won his second straight start following a six-month layoff when he scored by 2 1/4 lengths over defending champion Silver Tree, the 7-5 favorite, in the $200,900 Caesar Rodney Stakes. A 4-year-old colt ridden by Javier Castellano for trainer Douglas Fout, Wake Up At Noon prepped for the Rodney by winning an overnight stakes last month. He ran 1 1/8 miles on a firm turf course in 1:49.43.

* Leading rider Ramon Dominguez collected his fourth win on the card when Smart and Fancy ($3.20) held off Weeks by a neck to capture the $104,300 Light Hearted Stakes for the second straight year. Trained by Tony Dutrow, the 5-year-old Smart and Fancy is now 12 for 20 lifetime, including a 4-for-5 record in turf sprints. She was timed in 56.37 seconds in Sunday's five-furlong grass stakes for fillies and mares.