05/28/2010 12:00AM

Ailalea fits well in Dogwood


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Starlight Partners shot for the stars by running Ailalea in the Kentucky Oaks four weeks ago, to no avail. After she gave closest chase to front-running Tidal Pool to the top of the stretch, Ailalea faded to finish fifth of 14 in the Churchill Downs filly classic.

Ambitions duly tempered, Starlight is wheeling back Ailalea in the Grade 3, $100,000 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill, a one-mile race that will be run Saturday for the 36th time. Instead of being 22-1, as she was in the Oaks, Ailalea figures something on the order of 2-1, which says plenty about her chances.

Calvin Borel and Todd Pletcher, the same jockey-trainer combination that won the May 1 Kentucky Derby with Super Saver, will team together Saturday with Ailalea.

Whereas many of the top Pletcher horses left Kentucky for other venues shortly after the Oaks and Derby, "the Dogwood has been our radar since the Oaks," said Pletcher assistant Michael McCarthy. "We feel like she's trained well enough to put forth a nice effort Saturday - plus it's fair to say we've been lucky this meet with Calvin."

Starlight, with Jack Wolf and Don Lucarelli as the current principals, won the 2004 Oaks with Ashado, one of many high points for the 10-year-old operation. Ailalea, one of eight 3-year-old fillies in the Dogwood, already is a Grade 3 winner for the stable, having captured the Tempted last fall at Aqueduct.

If Ailalea can run as well Saturday as she did in the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, she stands a solid chance at a second Grade 3 victory. If not, the race could fall any number of ways, with Fuzzy Britches, Visavis, and Bell's Shoes rating consideration.

Fuzzy Britches, part of a small string of horses that trainer Rick Dutrow is maintaining here, was beaten a nose in an allowance sprint on the Oaks undercard, while

Visavis and Bell's Shoes were the respective second- and fourth-place finishers in the Eight Belles Stakes on the Derby undercard.

Other fillies in the Dogwood lineup include Age of Humor, 12th at 44-1 in the Oaks, and Vertical Vision, second at 14-1 in the Instant Racing on the Arkansas Derby undercard at Oaklawn Park. Tap Tap Tapping and Helen Belen round out the cast.