06/10/2001 11:00PM

Mysterious Affair eyes fourth in a row


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mysterious Affair will try to extend her winning streak to four races Wednesday at Woodbine in the $100,800 Ballade Stakes. Only four other Ontario-sired fillies and mares were entered in the six-furlong dash.

Mysterious Affair's streak began after she ran fourth in the opening-day La Voyageuse Handicap. She upset Torrid Affair with a gutsy performance in the six-furlong Whimsical Stakes April 13, and won the allowance prep for the Grade 3 Hendrie Handicap two weeks later.

Mysterious Affair battled up front in her usual style most recently May 13 in the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie. She appeared beaten at the top of the stretch by El Prado Essence, but fought back along the rail to prevail by a neck over a closing Ruby Park.

Owner/trainer Mort Hardy said Mysterious Affair has maintained her sharpness after working five-eighths in a bullet 59.20 seconds over a "good" main track May 26.

"She's doing well," said Hardy. "She's had a couple of works since her last race. One was real fast; the other was just a nice easy one. A horse broke off in front of her [May 26], and she caught that one. When she sees a horse in front of her, she goes like hell."

In spite of her natural speed, Hardy believes Mysterious Affair's best race may be coming from just off the pace. He said he wouldn't mind seeing Sports Flashy gunned to the early lead in the Ballade, with Mysterious Affair taking up the chase.

"If they're running kind and easy," he said, "you never say 'whoa,' you just go. Sometimes if you try to stop a horse, they'll stop on their own."

In a division without a clear leader at this time, Mysterious Affair has a shot at this year's Sovereign Award for champion older mare, which was won by Saoirse, a sprinter, in 2000.

"I'm not thinking about that," said Hardy, regarding the Sovereign Award. "My goal with her would be to win six in a row like I did with Proud Lou. She's the best filly I've had. She was a real champion."

Proud Lou won the Grade 1 Frizette Stakes at Belmont for Hardy in 1981, but was not considered for the Sovereign Award that year because American-breds were ineligible at the time.

From the rail out, the field of the Ballade: Ice Tie with Robert Landry aboard; Mysterious Affair, Richard Dos Ramos; Ruby Park, David Clark; Fresh Believer, Jake Barton; and Sports Flashy, Mickey Walls.