Ashado delivers a first for Pletcher
GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - As trainer Todd Pletcher found out, you can go home again. A Dallas native, Pletcher won his first Breeders' Cup race in the first Breeders' Cup race run in the state of Texas when his filly Ashado captured the $2 million Breeders' Cup Distaff on Saturday at Lone Star Park.
Tamweel, the early leader, finished fourth and was followed, in order, by Island Fashion, Indy Groove, Elloluv, Nebraska Tornado, Society Selection, Hollywood Story, and Bare Necessities.
Racing over a track that was rated good but was more like wet-fast, Ashado completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.26, and paid $6.
Ashado got a perfect trip under jockey John Velazquez. She settled nicely just behind a contested speed duel as Tamweel led the field through fractions of 22.93 seconds for the opening quarter and 46.70 seconds for a half-mile. Tamweel continued to lead after six furlongs in 1:10.50, and as the field came around the final bend, Ashado was desperately seeking room.
After checking slightly at the quarter pole, a seam developed between Indy Groove, who had momentarily taken the lead, and Island Fashion, who had swooped around the field to enter contention. Ashado knifed through it in an instant and bounded clear.
"I had a perfect trip," Velazquez said. "I tucked into position on the first turn, and I just had to bide my time following the leaders."
Velazquez said the track was greasy, but Ashado "didn't really mind."
Storm Flag Flying, ridden by Jerry Bailey, was shuffled back to last midway through the race, worked her way to a contending position while in traffic, then finally got free late and closed with a rush, but she ran out of ground.
"I was just having to pick my way through. There was no pace," Bailey told trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Ogden Mills Phipps in the tunnel after the race. "She just really got her rhythm inside the sixteenth pole."
Had Storm Flag Flying won, she would have been the first horse to win two different Breeders' Cup races. She captured the Juvenile Fillies in 2002.
Pletcher had sent out 12 previous Breeders' Cup starters. None had won, but many were longshots that outran their odds. This, though, was sweet, especially considering Ashado had brought Pletcher his biggest previous victory, in the Kentucky Oaks.
"Without a doubt, this filly has delivered every start of her life," Pletcher said. "The Kentucky Oaks and this are races you need to catapult our organization to the next level."
Ashado, a daughter of Saint Ballado, is owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin. This victory was her ninth in 14 lifetime starts and completed a season in which she will unquestionably be the 3-year-old filly champion. Jack Wolf said Ashado would remain in training as a 4-year-old.