08/29/2003 12:00AM

Ashado perseveres


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - At the eighth pole of Friday's $200,000 Spinaway Stakes, with Ashado holding a tenuous lead over the D. Wayne Lukas-trained Be Gentle, trainer Todd Pletcher started to wonder if his filly would be fit enough to fight.

"She's so idle in the morning it makes you a little concerned in the afternoon, especially at the eighth pole when it looked like she had to dig down a little," Pletcher said. "Fortunately, she's one of those horses who knows the difference in the morning and the afternoon."

Ashado's talent matched her intelligence as she found the necessary strength to kick on through the stretch and win the Grade 1 Spinaway by 1 1/4 lengths over Be Gentle. It was 8 1/4 lengths back to Daydreaming, the 6-5 favorite who stumbled badly at the break. Unbridled Beauty, Dixie Waltz, and Stoic completed the order of finish.

Ashado, a daughter of Saint Ballado owned by Jack Wolf's Starlight Stables, Paul Saylor, and Johns Martin, added the Spinaway to her Schuylerville victory from opening day. She is now 3 for 3 and stamped herself the leading juvenile filly in the East.

Under Edgar Prado, Ashado broke sharply and raced outside of Dixie Waltz through an opening quarter run in 22.46 seconds. Ashado poked a head in front of Dixie Waltz by the middle of the turn, but Be Gentle began to loom a threat turning for home.

Be Gentle got within a half-length in midstretch, but could not go on with Ashado, who covered seven furlongs in 1:24.08 and returned $8.20 to win.

It was the 34th win of the meet for Pletcher and sixth stakes score. Pletcher said Ashado would be pointed to the Grade 1 Frizette on Oct. 4 at Belmont Park.

Daydreaming was made the 6-5 favorite off an impressive maiden win. But she stumbled so bad at the start her nose hit the ground.

"She got all scared and tense, and running she hit herself pretty hard, yet she still ran a good race," jockey John Velazquez said. "You go watch the replay and tell me how she got back up. I don't know."