Billed as a showdown between Hystericalady and multiple graded stakes winning mare Unbridled Belle, who won the Delaware Handicap by more than seven lengths a year ago, the daughter of Distorted Humor proved her superiority without a doubt. She also answered the question about whether she could handle 10 furlongs, a distance she had never tried before.
Pressing longshot pacesetter Lemon Drop Mom for three-quarters, Hystericalady and Garrett Gomez took over in the latter stages of the final turn, opened up a commanding 3 1/2-length advantage at the top of the lane and drew clear of her rivals. Lemon Drop Mom held second at odds of 20-1, while Unbridled Belle, who was hung four-wide down the backstretch and never found her best gear, rallied to get third. The final time on a fast main track was 2:02.37.
Trained and co-owned by Jerry Hollendorfer, Hystericalady entered off a 7 1/2-length victory in the June 14 Fleur de Lis Handicap (gr. II) at Churchill Downs. She also scored in the Azeri Stakes (gr. III) at Oaklawn Park earlier this year. Overall, the versatile chestnut mare has bagged six graded stakes and has collected eight of her 10 career wins at different racetracks. She has now earned $2,110,556.
As part of the Breeders’ Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” series, the Delaware Handicap triumph assured Hystericalady a berth in the Oct. 24 Breeders’ Cup Ladies Classic (gr. I) at Santa Anita. Last year, she lost to Ginger Punch by a neck in the same event.
Ridden by Jose Caraballo, Lemon Drop Mom battled for the early lead and took the field of eight around the backside. She posted fractions of :24.12, :48.82 and 1:13.07. Hystericalady was positioned well outside of the leader, with Buy the Barrel and Spring Waltz also up close. But after coming out of the turn with a full head of steam, Hystericalady put the race away.
"Everything worked out perfect for the trip I was hoping to get," Gomez said. "This is a classy mare. She will do whatever you want her to do and it is a pleasure to be on her. She always travels well for me.
"My main concern was she kicked when I wanted her to kick because the mile and a quarter was a question in some people minds. Her last race, she went a mile and an eighth, and she was getting stronger as the race was going on. You never know until you go a mile and a quarter. So I started kicking her just like I was going a mile and an eighth just like last time and went ahead and went after the horse on the lead. I let her make the lead and when we turned for home, she hit another gear and lengthened her stride some more."
Bred in Kentucky by Abbott Properties, Hystericalady is out of the Northaire mare Sacramentada. She is co-owned by Hollendorfer, Rancho San Miguel, Tom Clark and George Tadaro.
Going off as third choice, the winner paid $7, $4.20 and $2.60. The exacta (8-6) was worth $134, while the trifecta (8-6-9) returned $352.
Spring Waltz was fourth, followed by Buy the Barrel, All Smiles, Santa Teresita and Kathleens Reel. Copper State, Moon Catcher and Over Under were scratched.