Updated on 09/17/2011 5:52PM

Ashado gets Pletcher first Cup win

Ashado (right) surges by pacesetter Tamweel with a furlong remaining to win the Distaff.

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 on Saturday at Lone Star Park.

Ashado, who saved ground the entire way after breaking from the rail, outran an unlucky Storm Flag Flying to win by 1 1/4 lengths. Stellar Jayne finished a neck farther back in third after uncharacteristically being taken back off the pace following a slow start.

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 rated good, Ashado completed 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.26.

Ashado ($6), the race favorite, 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 Ashado checked slightly at the quarter pole, a seam developed between horses at the top of the stretch. 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 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," jockey Jerry Bailey told trainer Shug McGaughey and owner Ogden Mills Phipps after the race in the tunnel connecting the paddock with the track. "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 these are races you need to catapult our organization to the next level."

The victory was great satisfaction for Pletcher, who had Ashado tune up for the Distaff in the Cotillion Handicap at Philadelphia Park. He chose that race, rather than a more prestigious race at his home track of Belmont Park, because it fell four weeks before the Distaff, the spacing Pletcher desired.

"In order to do the very best for the Distaff, we thought the Cotillion was our best option," Pletcher said. "This filly does everything you ask her to do all the time, so we felt like that was a very good springboard."

Pletcher said winning in Texas was especially sweet.

"I was going to be happy wherever I won a Breeders' Cup race," Pletcher said. "This is particularly gratifying because I have a lot of family here. One of the most exciting things for me was having my mom and dad here, and my wife. Seeing them get excited is part of the fun."

Ashado, a daughter of Saint Ballado, is owned by Jack and Laurie Wolf's Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin. The 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.