05/28/2001 11:00PM

Mysterious Affair bred to be quick

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Breed speed to speed and most likely you'll get speed.

Add a bit of attitude and a lot of heart and you might get a tough nut like Mysterious Affair, currently the best older mare in Ontario.

A 4-year-old bay, she has won three consecutive races in 2001, including Woodbine's Whimsical and Grade 3 George C. Hendrie Handicaps, and six of her last eight starts dating back to last fall.

The Mysterious Affair story is one of the most intriguing in recent Ontario history. Her owner and trainer, 72-year-old Mort Hardy, bred his own mare, Miss Blue Bell, to his own sire, the ill-fated Mysterious Vice, and was rewarded with Mysterious Affair.

The filly is one of only three foals sired by Mysterious Vice, who died in 1999 when he foundered.

Mysterious Vice, a son of Vice Regent out of the stakes-winning mare Etherial Princess debuted on Queen's Plate Day in 1994. Despite his 20-1 odds, the attractive chestnut won by almost three lengths in 59.40 for five furlongs.

Mysterious Vice, a June foal whom Hardy bought for only $11,000 at auction, raced just seven more times in his career before being retired to John Carey's T.C. Westmeath Stud.

Miss Blue Bell, who was claimed by Hardy and partner Grant Roberts from Gerry Going at Greenwood in 1990 for $20,000, was a daughter of the budding young stallion star, Bold Ruckus. And she had her sire's speed.

Hardy and Roberts won three races with Miss Blue Bell before she bowed a tendon and was retired. She won a total of eight races from 28 starts and almost $75,000.

Miss Blue Bell produced three foals for Hardy, including stakes-placed speedster Artic Snow, before she became the first mate for Mysterious Vice.

The mare had two other foals by the sire before his death, including a yearling full sister to Mysterious Affair.

Mysterious Affair traces closely to Northern Dancer several times in her pedigree. Mysterious Vice is bred 2 X 3 to the legendary sire and the filly's second dam, Can Can Dance, is a granddaughter of the same stallion.

Can Can Dance, an Alberta-bred, is an unraced daughter of Flaring Dancer, a foal of 1972. Flaring Dancer won four races in 21 starts and sired three stakes winners at stud before he was sent to Japan in 1979.

Mysterious Affair won the Whimsical and Hendrie Stakes the same way. The filly flashed her customary speed, was surrounded by a challenger to two in the stretch before battling back to win.

"She just loves a fight, she really does" said her regular rider Richard Dos Ramos. "She's very gutsy."

Mysterious Affair has plenty more opportunities to add to her $450,000 and the Ballade Stakes on June 13 could be her next race. And Hardy hopes that the filly will eventually take over from her dam in the breeding shed.

"I still have (Miss Blue Bell) but she's getting old," said Hardy. "With a little luck, this mare will be able to replace her."