07/04/2007 11:00PM

Same cast, but maybe a different outcome


INGLEWOOD, Calif. - Summer is the time for reruns, whether it's on television or in the older female division on the main track at Hollywood Park. If you happened to miss last month's Milady Breeders' Cup Handicap, or can't wait to see it again, you're in luck! The first four finishers from the Milady make up the entire field on Saturday in the Grade 1, $300,000 Vanity Invitational Handicap at Hollywood Park.

Nashoba's Key won the Milady, with Hystericalady, Balance, and Ballado's Thunder following, in that order. There has been an adjustment in the weights for the Vanity, which is run at 1 1/8 miles, 110 yards farther than the Milady. Those are among the reasons to believe the order of finish could be different among these four 4-year-old fillies.

David Hofmans, the trainer of Balance, certainly hopes so. His filly fell 5 1/4 lengths shy of Nashoba's Key in the Milady. On Saturday, though, Balance gets to go nine furlongs, the distance at which she took the La Canada Stakes and Santa Margarita Handicap earlier this year at Santa Anita. Balance gets a better break in the weights. After giving eight pounds (123-115) to Nashoba's Key in the Milady, the spread is halved (122-118) this time. Hofmans is hoping Balance can move forward from the Milady, much as she did in her second start following a layoff in the La Canada.

"I do think she needed her last race, and the distance on Saturday is a lot better for her," Hofmans said. "She's always needed one after a little bit of a layoff."

Balance has been a leader of her division for going on three seasons now. She was second in the Hollywood Starlet at 2, and last year took a pair of Grade 1 races, including the Santa Anita Oaks. She does not have sharp early speed, though, so she will be at the mercy of what unfolds in front of her, and the pace might not be to her liking.

Hystericalady is the likely front-runner. She got loose on the lead in the Milady, and was caught late by Nashoba's Key, losing by three-quarters of a length.

The wild card is Ballado's Thunder, who drew inside of Hystericalady. She and jockey Corey Nakatani conceded the lead to Hystericalady last time. That did not work. Perhaps new tactics will be employed.

The unbeaten Nashoba's Key was the third choice of this quartet in the Milady, but her victory marked her ascension to the top of the division in the West. In a career that began belatedly in January, Nashoba's Key won three straight grass races against California-breds, then successfully switched to Cushion Track and beat open runners in the Grade 2 Milady.

"I've been watching her train, and she looks awesome," Hofmans said. "She's the one to beat."