04/29/2004 11:00PM

Mysterious Affair to be bred to Fusaichi Pegasus


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mysterious Affair, who earned more than $1 million for Mort Hardy, her breeder, owner, and trainer, has been sold and is off to the breeding shed.

Glenn Harvey, whose Kelynack Racing Stable Inc. is on the fast track to becoming a major player in racing and breeding spheres, is the new owner of Mysterious Affair, a 7-year-old mare.

According to Abraham Katryan, who purchased Mysterious Affair for Harvey, Mysterious Affair has been sent to Kentucky to be bred to Fusaichi Pegasus, who stands for $85,000. After foaling in Ontario, she will go back to Kentucky and be bred to Grand Slam, who stands for $50,000. Katryan trains 20 horses here for Harvey.

Mysterious Affair compiled a 12-9-6 record for earnings of $1,059,971 from 37 starts. She won seven stakes, including back-to-back editions of both the Whimsical and the Ballade in 2001 and 2002, and was stakes placed on 11 other occasions. She missed paychecks just twice in her career, finishing sixth on two occasions last year.

"She meant a hell of a lot to me," said Hardy.

"She was too good a mare for me to keep - they can take her to a lot better stallions. And I've still got a couple of her sisters and half-sisters."

Mysterious Affair will become the sixth broodmare in the budding Kelynack band, which includes former local performers Julie's Witt and Lilies Halo.

Julie's Witt, a two-time stakes winner, and Lilies Halo, who was stakes placed, also were purchased privately.

Changes to optional claimers

Beginning with the meeting's third condition book, which starts with the card of May 19, there will be changes involving the optional claiming races that were introduced this spring and with conditioned claiming races.

Maiden optional-claiming races, which had been instituted at the $25,000 and $50,000 claiming levels, now will be offered for $40,000 only.

The new optional claiming races for nonwinners of two and nonwinners of three, also at the $25,000 and $50,000 claiming levels, now will be carded for $32,000 only.

Conditioned claiming races, for nonwinners of two and nonwinners of three, will be reinstated at the $20,000 and $40,000 claiming levels. There will be no more conditioned races for $12,500 claimers.

"Our original thought was that we couldn't have both the optional races and the conditioned claiming races," said Chris Evans, Woodbine's director of racing. "But, it looked like the new races were coming up tougher than straight conditioned claimers. That was my impression and what some of the trainers had expressed. Plus, those conditioned races had been consistent fillers the past couple of years, and eliminating them was a touchy situation. We revisited the situation, and decided to put them back in."

The optional claiming and allowance races offer lower purses than their more lucrative maiden special weight and allowance counterparts, and, said Evans, some horsemen think they present an opportunity for better horses to take an "edge" against true claiming competition.

"These races won't be abandoned," said Evans. "The company is determined to carry these on - there's a demand from breeders, and some owners, to protect horses. As we go on we'll get feedback from our horsemen and have thoughts of our own. We thought this was a good compromise. Hopefully, there'll be something for everyone."

New policy will prevent defections

Woodbine returned to a 48-hour draw this year after five years of taking entries on a 72-hour basis. The change, which management said would help improve field size, also involved the elimination of scratch time, which previously had been set for 9 a.m. on the day after entries.

Part of the rationale behind the switch was that the earlier draw allowed horsemen to size up the competition and could have abetted decisions to scratch. With the 48-hour draw, which resulted in up to 16 starters on the program, the only scratches allowed were at 11 a.m. race day, and the thought was there would be fewer defections.

Now, in another about-face, Woodbine will have an "unofficial" scratch time, with the race office accepting scratches until 11 a.m. the day before race day. A list of the scratched horses will be posted in the race office.

"We're not reinstating scratch time," said Evans, who said the scratched horses would still appear on the program and betting numbers would not be affected. "We'll 'scratch' down to 10 betting interests; before, we scratched down to nine horses. Any further scratches will go to the stewards on race day."

Evans said the change has been made at the behest of the Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association.

"It's a compromise; it's certainly not unanimous," said Evans. "It will be monitored. If we feel that trainers are abusing the privilege to scratch ahead of time, we'll revisit it."

Wednesday racing is back

Woodbine moves into its full schedule this week, with racing Wednesday through Sunday. The Wednesday programs, as usual, will begin at 6:45 p.m. and first post for all other days is set for 12:55 p.m.

Coinciding with the return of Wednesday racing will be the first 2004 meeting of the Toronto Thoroughbred Racing Club, beginning at 8 p.m. in the second-floor International Room.

Head-table guests will include the Gerry Belanger, the Sovereign Award-winning former trainer who is now in the equine insurance business, and yours truly.