04/03/2002 12:00AM

Jostle and Mystic Lady don't know it's ungraded


HALLANDALE BEACH, Fla. - There are no Grade 1 races for fillies and mares on the Gulfstream Park stakes schedule in 2002. But there was Grade 1-caliber racing in the division here, and there is more to come on Friday when a field of seven older fillies and mares vie for a mere $75,000 purse in the ungraded Banshee Breeze Handicap.

Earlier in the meet, Grade 1 winners Miss Linda and Forest Secrets came off the bench to win the Sabin and Rampart handicaps. That pair have moved on to bigger and better things up north but their shoes will be amply filled by a couple of other high-class females, Jostle and Mystic Lady, who will launch their 2002 campaigns in the 1 1/16-mile Banshee Breeze.

Jostle won the Grade 1 Alabama and Grade 1 Coaching Club Oaks at 3 but was winless in five starts last year at 4. She was purchased by WinStar Farms and turned over to trainer Elliott Walden near the end of 2001 and has been in training at Payson Park this winter in preparation for her return.

"She's doing great, training super," said Walden. "We've evaluated her all winter and she hasn't taken a backwards step. John" - former trainer John Servis - "told me she was always a filly who touted herself and she's done all of that. She even broke the screen on her stall in half one morning, she's been feeling so good. Of course the proof is in the pudding and we really won't know how she'll perform until she goes out there Friday."

John Velazquez, riding at Aqueduct, will return to south Florida to ride Jostle, who will share high weight of 119 pounds with Mystic Lady.

Mystic Lady is the choice to lead the Banshee Breeze throughout, despite not having started since Nov. 2 when she closed out her 3-year-old campaign with an easy victory in the Grade 3 Honey Bee Handicap at The Meadowlands. The win was Mystic Lady's third one-sided stakes triumph in a row and added to a 2001 rŽsumŽ that included graded wins in the Cotillion, Jersey Derby, and Fantasy Stakes.

"It was hard to stop on her, as well as she was doing last fall, but she hadn't been out of training since her 2-year-old season and had done a lot of traveling," said trainer Mark Hennig. "We just felt like she had developed into one of the better fillies in the country and that with time off she could have a really big year this season."

Hennig had hoped to launch Mystic Lady's campaign this weekend in the Apple Blossom at Oaklawn Park but felt she was not quite ready for that caliber of competition.

"I didn't want to rush her into the Apple Blossom," said Hennig. "But she's plenty ready to run and I'm not coming into the race Friday wishing I had another work."

Regular rider Eibar Coa will have the assignment.

Trying to upset the two likely favorites will be Sea Mist, Happily Unbridled, Castlebrook, New Real Deal, and Coolbythepool.

Castlebrook finished fourth, beaten less than seven lengths by Forest Secrets, in the Rampart. A four-time stakes winner in 2000, she will be seeking her first victory since capturing Calder's Noble Royalty Handicap on Sept. 15.

"This is a pretty tough race for $75,000 this late in the season," said Castlebrook's trainer Bill Kaplan.

Happily Unbridled finished third in the Rampart but has also been winless since September at Calder when she won the Judy's Red Shoes Stakes over a wet track.

New Real Deal makes her U.S. debut for trainer Bill Mott. She was a two-time Group 1 winner in Argentina in 2001.

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