10/02/2007 11:00PM

Lady Joanne facing tough Spinster crew

EmailEven though the Breeders' Cup Distaff comes back in just 20 days, trainers Carl Nafzger and Jerry Hollendorfer would both like to see their candidates have a hard race in their final preps on Sunday.

It appears only Nafzger will get his wish. Nafzger will send out the 3-year-old Lady Joanne in Sunday's Grade 1, $500,000 Juddmonte Spinster at Keeneland, where she could meet as many as 11 rivals, including Grade 1 winners Asi Siempre, Panty Raid, and Sugar Shake, as well as graded stakes winners Teammate,

High Heels, Rolling Sea, and Baghdaria, the older half-sister of Lady Joanne.

"That's a good thing," Nafzger said. "If you're going to the Breeders' Cup, you got to run tough to get there."

At Santa Anita on Sunday, Hollendorfer will saddle Hystericalady in the Grade 1, $250,000 Lady's Secret, where she will meet Tough Tiz's Sis and four California-breds in the 1 1/16-mile race. On paper, it seems like a fairly easy prep for Hystericalady, a Grade 1 winner.

"I'd rather see a few more horses in a race than a light one," Hollendorfer said. "Then it gives you a chance to set a horse up like you want to, as opposed to doing something you don't want to do, such as move a horse too early or something like that."

Both the Spinster and Lady's Secret are part of the Breeders' Cup "Win and You're In'' program, meaning the winner of each race earns an automatic berth into the Distaff. Ginger Punch and Unbridled Belle have already earned their way into the Distaff, though Ginger Punch is not certain to run.

Lady Joanne, a 3-year-old daughter of Orientate, has won 4 of 5 starts this year, including the Grade 1 Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 18. Nafger said his filly has "improved a lot" since the Alabama.

"I think she'll run huge," Nafzger said.

The Spinster, run at 1 1/8 miles over Keeneland's Polytrack, is coming up a very competitive race. Asi Siempre won the Spinster last year and then finished second in the Distaff, only to be disqualified to fourth for interference in the stretch.

Asi Siempre's only victory this year came in the Doubledogdare in April, also over Keeneland's Polytrack. Asi Siempre is coming off a sixth-place finish in the Delaware Handicap on July 15. Since then, she suffered a bruised foot that kept her out of the Matron Stakes at Arlington. She breezed five furlongs in 1:00.40 Wednesday at Keeneland.

"She worked very well this morning," trainer Patrick Biancone said. "She's very fit, I'm very pleased with her training."

Panty Raid won a first-level allowance race in March over Turfway Park's Polytrack, using the race as a springboard to a victory in the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan at Pimlico. She is also a Grade 1 winner on turf, so she could be using this is as a stepping-stone to the Breeders' Cup Filly and Mare Turf.

Meanwhile, Hystericalady will be making her first start since wiring the field in the Grade 2 Molly Pitcher Handicap at Monmouth Park on Aug. 25. While Hollendorfer had plenty of prep races to choose from, he elected to stay in California for the Lady's Secret, knowing he would have to ship Hystericalady cross-country for the Breeders' Cup.

"I just think you can cross the line and make them travel too much," said Hollendorfer, who has stables in northern and Southern California.

Hystericalady has won her last three starts over conventional dirt tracks. She has lost twice on Hollywood Park's Cushion Track, both to the undefeated Nashoba's Key. The Lady's Secret is also run over a Cushion Track.

"It's funny to me how circumstances can make people think in a certain way, including myself," Hollenderofer said. "Was it the track that got her beat or was it facing such a great filly?"

In other Distaff developments:

* Take D' Tour, who won the Grade 1 Ogden Phipps earlier this year, has been retired because of an injury in her left foreleg.

* Danzon, who won the Kentucky Cup Distaff by five lengths last Saturday over Turfway Park's Polytrack, could run in either the Distaff or Filly and Mare Turf, her trainer, Biancone, said.