11/29/2003 1:00AM

Ashado noses out La Reina


OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Ashado overcame her nasty habit of waiting on horses, as well as a stubborn rival in La Reina, to win Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 by a nose at Aqueduct.

It was a half-length back to Dr. Kathy in third.

Jerry Bailey rode Ashado to the win, the first of three stakes wins on the card which enabled him to break Mike Smith's single-season record for stakes wins (68) in one year. Bailey ended the day with 70.

At the three-eighths pole, Ashado and La Reina turned the Demoiselle into the two-horse race many expected it to be. Ashado, on the outside, seemingly put La Reina away inside the eighth pole, opening up a 1 1/2-length advantage approaching the sixteenth pole. But Ashado began to ease up while La Reina, under John Velazquez, fought back on the inside only to fall a nose short.

"She really wasn't tired at the end, she just kind of eased herself," Bailey said. "Trainer Todd Pletcher told me she would; I didn't think she'd do it that badly."

Ashado, owned by Jack Wolfe's Starlight Stable, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, covered the nine furlongs in 1:52.55. She returned $3.10 as the favorite. Ashado, who finished second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, added the Demoiselle to a resume that included wins in the Grade 1 Spinaway and Grade 2 Schuylerville.

Velazquez, who rode Ashado in the Breeders' Cup, rode La Reina on Saturday. Velazquez said La Reina came off the bridle around the turn and he had to put her in a drive earlier than he wanted.

"That cost me the race right there," Velazquez said. "If she would have stayed on the bridle around the turn, I would have had more horse to fight with."

Ashado and La Reina figure to spend the winter in Florida and could meet several times on the way to the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30.