Ashado Makes Season Debut in Apple Blossom

Champion 3-year-old filly Ashado, who won the 2004 Breeders' Cup Distaff – Presented by Nextel (gr. I) in her last outing, will make her 4-year-old debut in Saturday's Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I) at Oaklawn Park.

Trained by 2004 Eclipse Award-winning trainer Todd Pletcher for owners Jack and Laurie Wolf of Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, the daughter of Saint Ballado will break from post six as the 121-pound highweight. Jockey John Velazquez, who has been aboard for five of Ashado's six career victories, has the mount.

Before sealing her stellar sophomore season with the Distaff, Ashado notched four graded stakes wins in 2004, including the Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), Kentucky Oaks (gr. I), Coaching Club American Oaks (gr. I), and Cotillion Handicap (gr. II). Ashado, the only filly to win the Kentucky Oaks and Distaff in the same year, has yet to finish off the board in 14 career starts.

She will be joined in the 1 1/16-mile Apple Blossom by an impressive field of seven other older fillies and mares, including grade I winner Island Fashion, who finished fifth behind her in last year's Distaff.

Trained by Marcelo Polanco for Everest Stables, the 5-year-old daughter of Petionville will enter the Apple Blossom off a ninth-place finish to Rock Hard Ten in the March 5 Santa Anita Handicap (gr. I). She ran second to Argentine-bred Salt Champ in the Santa Monica Handicap (gr. I) in her first start this season, an event she won in 2004. Jockey Jamie Theriot will guide the mare from post seven, carrying 117.

Dream of Summer, who was undefeated in four starts in 2004, will break from the inside under jockey Pat Valenzuela. She will carry 116. Owned and bred by James Weigel and trained by Juan Garcia, the 6-year-old daughter of Siberian Summer has hit the board in all three 2005 outings. She finished third in two 1 1/16-mile stakes before a second-place effort going 1 1/8-mile in the March 12 Santa Margarita Invitational Handicap (gr. I).

California-bred House of Fortune, trained by Ron McAnally, will ship to Oaklawn after an off-the-board finish in the Sunshine Millions Distaff Stakes at Santa Anita, her first start of the season. Owned by Arnold Zetcher, the 4-year-old daughter of Free House, will break from post five under jockey Eibar Coa. She will carry 114.

Argentine-breds Star Parade and Good Student will join the Blossom cast. Star Parade will enter the race off an unplaced effort in the Feb. 13 Santa Maria Handicap (gr. I). Good Student finished second in that 1 1/16-mile event.

Apple Blossom Handicap (gr. I), 1 1/16 miles, dirt, $500,000, older fillies and mares, April 9, post time 6:05 p.m.
PP – Horse, Weight, Jockey
1 -- Dream of Summer, 116, Patrick A. Valenzuela
2 -- Star Parade, 116, John McKee
3 -- Shadow Cast, 114, Calvin H. Borel
4 -- Good Student, 112, Eibar Coa
5 -- House of Fortune, 114, Eibar Coa
6 – Ashado, 121, John R. Velazquez
7 -- Island Fashion, 117, Jamie Theriot
8 -- Island Sand, 114, Terry J. Thompson