03/07/2008 12:00AM

Hystericalady's speed vs. Kettleoneup's kick

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HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - The Grade 3, $175,000 Azeri Breeders' Cup at Oaklawn Park on Sunday has drawn one of the filly-and-mare division's best front-runners in Hystericalady and one of its best closers in Kettleoneup. The Azeri is the local prep for the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom on April 5.

The 1 1/16-mile Azeri will also serve as the season debut for Brownie Points, the winner of the $125,000 Iowa Distaff last June. The six-horse field also has attracted stakes winners Gasia and Lemon Drop Mom, as well as the front-running Clever Strike.

Hystericalady finished second by a neck to eventual Eclipse Award winner Ginger Punch in the Breeders' Cup Distaff at Monmouth on Oct. 27. She has raced only once since, finishing fourth as the favorite in the Grade 1 Santa Monica at Santa Anita. Hystericalady did not handle the synthetic surface in the Feb. 2 race that day, said her trainer, Jerry Hollendorfer.

"She's been training well at Bay Meadows, so we think it's time to run her again," he said. "We were looking for dirt, and she's ready to go, so we wanted to try there at Oaklawn."

Hollendorfer said he will consider bringing Hystericalady back for the Apple Blossom. To be ridden by Robby Albarado on Sunday, Hystericalady will break from post 5. She is situated outside of her main pace rival, Clever Strike, and could get a tracking trip.

"I think she can run on the lead, and I think she can run off the pace," said Hollendorfer. "I know she doesn't have to have the lead. So, it will depend on how everything sets up."

Kettleoneup's connections are hoping for an honest pace to fuel her late kick, which she has used to win stakes in her last three starts, including the Grade 2 Falls City at Churchill Downs in November. Kettleoneup made her season debut here Feb. 16, closing from last for a 2o1/4-length win in the $50,000 Pippin.

"When we got into the race I was a little concerned because they didn't go that fast [early]," said Mike Tomlinson, who trains Kettleoneup. "But I was really pleased with how she collared the field so easily and ran by them.

"Obviously the competition in there is not the caliber of this race. So, she's got more to do, but I think she's up to the task."

Calvin Borel has the mount on Kettleoneup.