Ashado Finds Hole, Wins Distaff With Ease

Ashado, a 3-year-old filly by Saint Ballado, added to her impressive resume Oct. 30 with a decisive victory in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff Presented by Nextel (gr. I).

The dark bay Kentucky bred gave trainer Todd Pletcher his first Breeders' Cup victory after 12 defeats. The BC Distaff was the first grade I race ever run at Lone Star Park.

As Ashado came flying down the stretch, the usually reserved Pletcher pumped his fist, urged on jockey John Velazquez with a ``Go, Johnny, go!'' and exchanged high fives with family and friends in the box seats.

``That was a special one,'' Pletcher, the nation's leading trainer, said. ``You're always anxious to get that first one out of the way.''

Owned by Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, Ashado got away well in the field of 11 from post one under John Velazquez. The filly rated behind the dueling leaders in fourth from the start to the far turn, then found room between horses and made her move. Ashado split foes at the top of the stretch and took command at the eighth pole to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

The complexion of the race changed earlier this week when the great mare Azeri, who would have been the heavy favorite, was entered instead in the $4 million Classic.

Storm Flag Flying (Jerry Bailey), far back early in the 1 1/8-mile test, rallied for second in her final start, a quarter-length ahead of Stellar Jayne. Tamwell was fourth. Storm Flag Flying, the 2002 Juvenile Filly of the Year, ended her career with seven wins, two three seconds and three thirds in 14 starts and earnings of $1,951,828.

Ashado set a track record of 1:48.26 for the distance on a track rated good, though the surface was immediately upgraded to fast after the race. The previous Lone Star track record of 1:49.69 was set by Moosekabear in 1997. The Distaff record of 1:46.15 was set in 1995 by Inside Information at Belmont Park.

Fractions for the race were :22.93, :46.70, :58.54, 1:10.30, 1:22.83, and 1:35.48 for the mile.

Ashado, who prepped for the Distaff with a victory in the Oct. 2 Cotillion Handicap (gr. II) at Philadelphia Park, has won nine of 14 starts in her career. She never has finished worse than third. Ashado, bred by Aaron and Marie Jones, won for the fifth time in eight starts this year, and earned $1,040,000 for the victory. She has a career bankroll of $2,870,440.

Ashado paid $6, $3.60, and $2.80 across the board as the favorite. Storm Flag Flying paid $7 and $4, while Stellar Jayne, ridden by Robby Albarado, returned $4.60.

After Tamweel came Island Fashion, Indy Groove, Elloluve, Nebraska Tornado, Society Selection, Hollywood Story and Bare Necessities.

(Chart, Equibase)