Caressing, Golden Ballet Lead Ashland Stakes Nominations

Four of the five top juvenile fillies on the 2000 Experimental Free Handicap are among the 85 nominations for the grade I Ashland Stakes to be run at Keeneland Race Course on April 7th.

Leading the nominations is Carl Pollard's Caressing, 2000 Eclipse juvenile champion. David Vance trains Caressing. Also nominated is the only grade I winning 3-year-old filly thus far in 2001, William Heiligbrodt's and Team Valor's, Golden Ballet, along with a powerful graded-winning quartet from trainer Mark Henning's stable.

Currently considered the most probable of the Henning fillies for the Ashland is Edward P. Evan's homebred Gold Mover, winner of the grade III Forward Gal Stakes and finished second to nominated Latour in the grade II Davona Dale Stakes, both at Gulfstream Park. Other Henning nominees include: Mystic Lady, winner of the Herecomesthebride Stakes (gr. III), 2000 grade I winner Raging Fever, and recent grade II Bonnie Miss winner Tap Dance.

Among this year's star 3-year-old fillies, none is more intriguing than Robert and Lawana Low's unbeaten homebred, Real Cozzy, who got her third victory in as many starts in the March 10th Fair Grounds Oaks (gr. II), beating nominees Mystic Lady and She's a Devil Due.

Another recently emerging standout among the nominees is Verne H. Winchells's homebred Fleet Rene, who won Laurel's Landaura Stakes by 2 1/4 lengths in February for trainer Michael Dickinson.