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.

Get Kentucky Derby 130 news and information at
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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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Derby: Wagering 101
Oaks: Ashado avenges Ashland defeat

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Prep sports schedules, results
Sports digest
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