Any rival having to face the exceptional mare Hystericalady would have a hard time, no matter when or where it is. But having to do it at Monmouth Park, where she has proven to like the surface, and in the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (gr. II), an event she won by daylight last season, make it an even more unenviable task.
As it is, five contenders will line up to face the six-time graded stakes winner Aug. 24 at Monmouth. The fillies and mares will travel 1 1/16 miles on the dirt.
Trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, Hystericalady went wire-to-wire in the 2007 Molly Pitcher, romping down the stretch to win by 6 1/4 lengths under Eddie Castro. In that one she went off as the 7-5 favorite, but this time around she should be the odds-on choice. The 5-year-old daughter of Distorted Humor made her other start in New Jersey in last year’s Emirates Airline Breeders’ Cup Distaff (gr. I), losing by a neck in the slop to eventual Eclipse Award winner Ginger Punch. It all adds up to what should be another successful trip for Hystericalady, who shipped in from California Aug. 19.
“I need a race for her,” said Hollendorfer. “Having won this race there last year, and running well in the Breeders’ Cup, I do know our filly likes that racetrack.”
Bred in Kentucky by Abbott Properties, Hystericalady is no stranger to cross-country travel. She has raced at five different racetracks since last year’s Breeders’ Cup, winning three times. She garnered her first win of the season with a comfortable victory in the March 9 Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn and most recently, has turned in consecutive winning performances in the June 14 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs and July 13 Delaware Handicap (gr. II) going 10 furlongs.
Overall, she is 10-3-2 from 20 career starts and has earned more than $2.1 million for Hollendorfer and co-owners Rancho San Miguel and George Todaro. Robby Albarado will have the mount on Hystericalady, who will break from the rail and carry 123 pounds.
Among the top contenders trying to dethrone Hystericalady will be Shuvee Handicap (gr. II) winner Cowgirls Don’t Cry, local hope Talkin About Love, and Lexi Star, who was second in last year's Molly Pitcher.
Jeff Singer’s Cowgirls Don’t Cry may have the best opportunity to pull the upset. The lightly-raced 4-year-old Pure Prize filly is 4-1-1 from nine starts, including a pair of stakes triumphs. She won the one-mile Shuvee by 2 1/4 lengths at Belmont in May, and most recently was fourth in the June 14 Ogden Phipps Handicap (gr. I), losing to Ginger Punch. Mike Luzzi will ride for Kiaran McLaughlin.
Talkin About Love has made all but three of her 16 career starts at Monmouth. The New Jersey-bred has won seven times there, her biggest victory coming last year in the Monmouth Breeders’ Cup Oaks (gr. III). This year she has one win in four starts, that coming in allowance company.
“This is a very tough spot,” admitted owner/breeder/trainer Kevin Sleeter. “But she won the Monmouth Oaks, and I want to give her a chance in the Molly Pitcher. She worked good last Sunday, three-eighths in :35 and change, and out a half-mile in :46 and change. So I know she’s back to her old self and ready to give a good effort.”
Stephen Quick's Lexi Star has won twice in four starts this season and was runner-up in the grade II Allaire DuPont Distaff on Preakness day at Pimlico. The 6-year-old homebred was fourth in the 2006 Molly Pitcher as well.
$300,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes (gr. II, Race 9, 4:52 p.m.), Fillies & Mares 3 & Up, 1 1/16 Miles (Dirt)
PP. Horse, Weight, Jockey
1. Hystericalady (KY), 123, Robby Albarado
2. Rolling Sea (IL), 117, Joe Bravo
3. Lexi Star (MD), 117, Eddie Castro
4. Talkin About Love (NJ), 117, Stewart Elliott
5. Czarina's Girl (NJ), 117, Carlos H. Marquez, Jr.
6. Cowgirls Don't Cry (KY), 123, Michael J. Luzzi