Saturday, May 1, 2004

Ashado avenges Ashland defeat


Runs past Madcap Escape; Preakness possibly next

By Dustin Dow
The Cincinnati Enquirer

LOUISVILLE - Nary a shadow was seen for most of the day at Churchill Downs Friday as gray skies provided the backdrop for the 130th running of the Kentucky Oaks.

COUNTDOWN
TO DERBY
Get Kentucky Derby 130 news and information at
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TOP HEADLINES
PRIOR COVERAGE
Sunday
Dirty little secret
Adding to grief are debts
Jockey moving, but lacking in context
Monday
VIP guests moved to infield
Castledale, St Averil committed to Derby
Tuesday
Layoff could be a benefit
Wednesday
Trainer's approach is off the beaten track
Jockeys hopeful of OK to wear corporate logos
Thursday
Hard times paved their Derby road
The Cliff's Edge made favorite in packed field
Friday
Success a quick climb for McKee
Limited sight doesn't limit horse
But less than an hour before the 5:42 p.m. post, the sunshine finally broke through, and Ashado gleamed as the main attraction.

The 3-year-old filly Ashado, with jockey John Velazquez aboard, stalked down Madcap Escapade to win the Kentucky Oaks, giving Velazquez and trainer Todd Pletcher a chance to make history today.

With Limehouse and Pollard's Vision both slated to run in today's Kentucky Derby, Pletcher could become the first trainer since Ben Jones in 1952 to win the Oaks and the Derby in the same year, a feat that has been done just three times.

Velazquez will ride Pollard's Vision, attempting to become the seventh jockey to win both races and the first since Jerry Bailey in 1993.

Pletcher stopped short of making a bold prediction about doubling up today, but said, "I'd say we're the only ones with a shot at it."

Ashado is a horse that owner Jack Wolf of Starlight Stables wanted to enter in the Derby rather than the $572,000 Oaks, the top filly race in the nation. Pletcher overruled, saying Ashado hadn't dominated the fillies enough leading up to the Oaks. In fact, until Ashado finished runner-up to Madcap Escape in the Ashland Stakes at Keeneland April 3, Pletcher wasn't sure Ashado had the mental drive to win the Oaks.

"Her work since the Ashland is the first time she's ever worked in full, attack fashion," Pletcher said. "She's kind of a lazy filly. She would always do what you ask her but wouldn't be so willing if you didn't ask her."

The race was run without Halfbridled, the third betting choice who was tied up from stomach cramps Friday morning.

From the inside post, the favored Ashado allowed Madcap Escape to surge to a 4 1/2-length lead by the half-mile post. Turning onto the homestretch, Velazquez and Ashado had drawn even with Madcap Escape, who began to fatigue after leading from the start. "She was going so fast in front of me, I thought she had to come back," Velazquez said.

Ashado seized the opportunity and made the pass to win the 1 1/8-mile race in 1:50.81 on a sloppy track, holding off fast-closing Island Sand by more than a length at the finish. Madcap Escape came in third.

"I wanted her to be in position to make a long, sustained run," Pletcher said of Ashado's closing strength. "She's capable of doing that."

Pletcher confessed she might even be capable of running with the colts. He's considering entering her in the May 15 Preakness Stakes, the second leg of the Triple Crown.

"Keep our options open," Pletcher said. "I'm sure that's what Jack Wolf wants to do."

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E-mail ddow@enquirer.com




130th KENTUCKY DERBY
This year's Derby is too close to call
Online Extra: Friday photos at Churchill Downs
Dickinson's unique ways breed success
Horse of a different color
Lion Heart, Smarty Jones may control pace
Derby: Wagering 101
Oaks: Ashado avenges Ashland defeat

FLYING PIG MARATHON
Foot power becomes a helping hand
New champions likely for Flying Pig
Flying Pig course map (PDF file, 460k)

BENGALS
Rudi will be in minicamp
Team claims Falcons QB Kittner off waivers

REDS
Rocket has Reds in his pocket
Miller back, in the lineup

MORE BASEBALL
Bonds' trainer will get to retest materials
Indians shake up struggling bullpen
NL: Wood fans 10, loses to Cards
AL: Mariners beat Detroit in 10

BASKETBALL
Xavier, UC alumni face off in annual charity game
Miami manages a win to take series lead

HOCKEY
Admiral wallop Ducks to force Game 7 tonight
Leafs defeat Flyers to even series at 2-2

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Prep sports schedules, results
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