03/27/2002 1:00AM

Mysterious Affair ready after layoff


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - Mysterious Affair, the top older filly or mare sprinter at Woodbine in 2001, returns from a long sabbatical as the 122-pound highweight in Friday's $102,800 La Voyageuse Handicap.

Mysterious Affair had four consecutive front-running victories here last spring for owner-trainer Mort Hardy. Her streak began with a victory over favored Torrid Affair in the April 13 Whimsical Stakes, and continued two weeks later in the allowance prep for the Grade 3 Hendrie Handicap.

On May 13, Mysterious Affair proved a very gutsy winner of the Hendrie, in which she prevailed over Ruby Park after surrendering the lead in midstretch. She capped her remarkable run with another neck score over Ruby Park in the restricted Ballade Stakes.

Mysterious Affair was sidelined with a knee injury for the remainder of 2001 after the June 13 Ballade.

"She's always had a bit of a knee problem," Hardy said. "It was bothering her a little after her last race, so I just put her away. I've given her lots of time. If it takes me three years to get one year's work out of it, I don't care."

Mysterious Affair was a close fourth coming off the shelf in the 2001 La Voyageuse, but Hardy doesn't think she will need a race this year.

"I think she's ready," said Hardy. "She's much fitter this year, and she's kind of a hyper type - she does quite a bit. She began training on one of those exercise machines during the first week of January" at trainer Catherine Day's farm.

"We brought her in here Feb. 8," said Hardy. "She's had five nice works, and nearly 100 days of training."

Dale Hemsley has the call on Mysterious Affair, replacing regular rider Richard Dos Ramos, who was injured in a paddock accident last Sunday and will be sidelined for about six weeks with a fracture just above his ankle. Hemsley routinely exercises Mysterious Vice in the mornings, and will break her from the inside post in the six-horse field.

Completing the lineup for the five-furlong La Voyageuse will be Sports Flashy, Dreams Go Bye, Madame Roar, El Prado Essence, and Small Promises.

Maryland invader Madame Roar is in sharp form. A speedy 4-year-old, Madame Roar won two optional claimers at Laurel over the winter, earning a 100-plus Beyer Speed Figure each time.

Jono Jones will ride Madame Roar for SJB Stable and her new trainer, Frank Passero Jr. She was trained previously by Tim Ritchey.

The pick six carryover heading into Friday's 10-race card is $4,890.

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