06/09/2002 11:00PM

Mysterious Affair favored

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ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mysterious Affair, coming off a narrow loss against males, will be favored against her own sex in Wednesday's Ballade Stakes at Woodbine. Just four other Ontario-sired runners were entered in the $127,125, six-furlong race.

Mysterious Affair capped a four-race win streak when she took the 2001 Ballade by a neck over Ruby Park in June. She was shelved for the remainder of the year because of a knee problem, and resurfaced on March 29 with a second-place finish to Madame Roar in the La Voyageuse Handicap.

Two weeks later, Mysterious Affair won the Whimsical Stakes for the second straight year, earning a career high Beyer Figure of 99. However, she ran her worst race on May 12, the George C. Hendrie Handicap, in which she pressed a rapid early pace before fading to finish 13 lengths behind.

Mysterious Affair rebounded with an awesome performance most recently in the New Providence, another Ontario sire stakes. She tracked favored Krz Ruckus early, before assuming command in the stretch of the six-furlong race, and was nailed on the wire by Sambuca on Ice.

Owner/trainer Mort Hardy was bewildered by Mysterious Affair's subpar performance in the 6 1/2-furlong Hendrie.

"We still don't know what caused it," Hardy said. "That's why I ran her back so quickly - because I couldn't find anything wrong with her. We had her blood tested, and we had her ultrasounded. They might have went too fast the first part of the race, and she was down on the inside."

Hardy pointed out that Mysterious Affair, who galloped out in front after New Providence, is a very determined runner.

"The only way they can beat her is if they catch her in the last jump or two," Hardy said. "If somebody grabs her at the eighth pole, she'll come on again."

Mysterious Affair worked slowly last Thursday, going five-eighths in 1:03.20 over the main track.

"She had a nice, easy breeze," Hardy said. "That should set her up for the race. She's in great shape."

Richard Dos Ramos has the mount on Mysterious Affair, the 126-pound highweight.

Also in the Ballade lineup are Ruby Park, Whistling Maid, Sports Flashy, and Moonlight Affair.

Ruby Park, a 5-year-old trained by Josie Carroll, should be the main threat. Winner of the Shady Well Stakes at 2, Ruby Park hit the board behind Mysterious Affair in three stakes last spring.

Ruby Park has made just one start since September, finishing second in a six-furlong allowance on May 25.

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