Ashado Needs Her 'A' Game in Alabama

Ashado, the pro-tem leader of the 3-year-old filly division, will need her "A" game Saturday at Saratoga while breaking from post 6 in the historic Alabama Stakes (gr. I). The $750,000 race for sophomore fillies, run at 1 1/4 miles drew a field of eight, including Yearly Report and the undefeated Fleet Indian.

The Alabama, with a scheduled post time of 5:50 p.m., will broadcast live on ESPN. The program, which runs from 5-6 p.m. EDT, will also air the Hopeful Stakes (gr. I) from Saratoga along with the Del Mar Oaks (gr. IT).

Ashado, a convincing winner of the CCA Oaks (gr. I), also run at 1 1/4 miles, in her last start on July 24 at Belmont Park, seeks to become the fourth 3-year-old filly to garner both the Alabama and Kentucky Oaks (gr. I) in the last six years. Farda Amiga (2002), Flute (2001), and Silverbulletday (1999) all pulled off the double with Farda Amiga and Silverbulletday being named champion 3-year-old female.

Bred in Kentucky by Aaron and Marie Jones and owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, Ashado has won seven of 11 career starts, with three seconds and one third. Ten of her starts have come in grade I or grade II stakes. The daughter of Saint Ballado out of the Mari's Book mare Goulash, Ashado is as solid a filly as they come, with a stalking style and a punishing late kick.

As a 2-year-old, Ashado won the Schulyerville (gr. II) and Spinaway Stakes (gr. I) at Saratoga. Trainer Todd Pletcher, the meet's leading trainer, will give a leg up to John Velazquez, the meet's leading rider.

She will meet Yearly Report for the first time in the Alabama, and with both fillies have similar styles, the race makes for an intriguing match-up.

A Golden Eagle Farm homebred and trained by Bob Baffert, Yearly Report is a perfect four-for-four this year, had has earned $630,000. Notching wins in the seven-furlong Santa Ynez Stakes (gr. II) and 1 1/16-miles Melair Stakes in Southern California earlier this year, Yearly Report has won her last two on the East Coast. The daughter of General Meeting has recently knocked down both the Black-Eyed Susan Stakes (gr. II) and Delaware Oaks (gr. II) as the odds-on favorite under Jerry Bailey.

Yearly Report's lone loss in six career starts came in her second start, the California Breeders' Champion Stakes at Santa Anita on Dec. 27, 2003. She was beaten three lengths by fellow Cal-bred Silent Sighs, who later went on to capture the Santa Anita Oaks (gr. I). Yearly Report is out of the stakes-winning Half a Year mare Fiscal Year.

Adding spice to the mix is Stan Fulton's unbeaten Fleet Indian and a pair of runners each from Hall of Fame trainers D. Wayne Lukas and Allen Jerkens.

Fleet Indian, a New York-bred by Indian Charlie out of the Afleet mare Hustleeta is a perfect four-for-four, but will be facing stakes company--grade I stakes company for that matter--for the first time. Edgar Prado will ride Fleet Indian for trainer Jimmy Toner.

A $40,000 sale yearling out of the 2002 Fasig-Tipton sale for New York-breds at Saratoga, Fleet Indian was resold by Leprechaun Racing outfit to Fulton for $230,000 at last year's OBS March sale of 2-year-olds in training. N W Management and Fleetwood Bloodstock signed the ticket for Fulton.

Lukas will send out both Susan's Angel and Stellar Jayne in the Alabama. Stellar Jayne, a Wild Rush filly owned by Spendthrift Farm, Chuck Kidder, and Nick and Nancy Strong upended Ashado in the nine-furlong Mother Goose Stakes (gr. I) at Belmont on June 26 at 29-1. She ran second to Ashado in the CCA Oaks by 4 1/2 lengths.

Jerkens has a strong pair in Honor Point and the Saratoga-loving Society Selection. Irv and Marge Cowan's homebred Society Selection roared from 10th early to run away with the seven-furlong Test Stakes (gr. I) at the Spa on July 31. As a 2-year-old, the daughter of Coronado's Quest out of Love That Jazz, by Dixieland Band broke her maiden at Saratoga in her debut prior to winning the grade I Frizette Stakes at Belmont.

Alabama Stakes (gr. I), $750,000, 3-year-old fillies, 121 pounds, 1 1/4 miles, Saratoga, Saturday, Aug. 21, approx. post 5:50 p.m. EDT
PP, Horse, Jockey, Trainer
1, Yearly Report, Jerry Bailey, Bob Baffert
2, Susan's Angel, Pat Day, D. Wayne Lukas
3, Fleet Indian, Edgar Prado, James Toner
4, Stellar Jayne, Robby Albarado, D. Wayne Lukas
5, Honor Point, Jorge Chavez, Allen Jerkens
6, Ashado, John Velazquez, Todd Pletcher
7, Society Selection, Cornelio Velasquez, Allen Jerkens
8, Last Song, Richard Migliore, Carl Nafzger