05/02/2004 11:00PM

Ashado probably headed to Acorn


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - There is a remote chance that Kentucky Oaks winner Ashado might run in the Preakness, but the filly is far more likely to run next in the Acorn and the Mother Goose at Belmont Park, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday.

Ashado was flown out of Louisville on Sunday, two days after she sped to a convincing 1 1/4-length triumph in the 130th Oaks.

"She bounced out of the race unbelievably well," said Pletcher. "She's full of herself. Right now, we're leaning toward keeping her against fillies."

Jack Wolf, whose Starlight Stable is a principal owner in the Ashado partnership, has been itching to try male rivals, but Pletcher is far more inclined to keep the filly racing against her own gender, at least for the time being. Wolf even toyed with the idea of entering Ashado in the Kentucky Derby, but Pletcher convinced him that the Oaks was the better way to go.

After the June 4 Acorn and June 26 Mother Goose, Ashado logically would proceed to other major New York events for 3-year-old fillies, including the Coaching Club American Oaks and Alabama Stakes. The ultimate goal is the Oct. 30 Breeders' Cup Distaff at Lone Star Park.

Pletcher said after the Oaks that Ashado definitely would not run in the May 14 Black-Eyed Susan Stakes at Pimlico.

Undercards full of upsets

While favorites were victorious in both the Oaks and Derby, the opposite held true in four major races that showcased heavy favorites.

In a remarkable run of upsets, four of the most dominant horses of 2003 - Perfect Drift, Sightseek, Congaree, and Azeri - all went down to defeat.

Perfect Drift ran second in the Alysheba at 11-10; Sightseek faded to fourth in the Louisville Breeders' Cup at 2-5; Congaree finished fourth in the Churchill Downs Handicap at 9-10; and Azeri was second in the Humana Distaff at 7-10.

Last year alone, that powerful foursome combined to win 18 races and more than $5 million.

Big Derby weekend for Nafzger

It seems almost impossible that Derby weekend could have gone any better for Carl Nafzger. Not only did the trainer send out Lead Story, who defeated Sightseek, and Mayo on the Side, who beat Azeri, but he also was delighted by the comeback of My Boston Gal, the 4-year-old filly who won the race immediately following the Derby on Saturday evening.

My Boston Gal, in her first start since a fifth-place finish in the Oaks last year, made a big move leaving the backstretch before going on to win a $66,800 allowance sprint under Pat Day.

"Geez, we were just elated with her," said Nafzger. "I don't care how they train, they may not want to run in the afternoon. The way she came back to herself, that was really big."

Nafzger may have a difficult time keeping his three distaff stars separated, but he said he is not overly concerned about it.

"It was a great, great weekend for us," he said. "We'll worry about the rest of the year as it comes along."

Desperado Kid may try Plate Trial

Trainer Pat Byrne also had a memorable Derby Day, sweeping the early daily double. Prospective Saint, now a winner in 3 of 4 starts, and Desperado Kid, who was making his first career start, combined for a $2 double worth $28.20.

"I was really pleased with how they both ran," Byrne said. "At the time, you don't really think about how nice it is to win before the big Derby crowd and all that, but a couple days out, it was great."

Byrne said Desperado Kid, a Canadian-bred, is nominated to the Queen's Plate and is a possibility to run in the June 6 Plate Trial at Woodbine.

Chalk takes Oaks-Derby double

With favorites winning both races for the first time since Churchill began offering the Oaks-Derby double in 1996, the bet returned an all-time low of $60.20 for a $2 wager.

Handle was a record $2,038,878. Last year, the Oaks-Derby double drew just over $1.23 million.

Saturday pick four meets guarantee

While Churchill Downs had to make up the difference of its $500,000-guaranteed pick four pool on Friday, when only $333,278 was wagered, there was no such problem Saturday, when more than $2.1 million was bet into a guaranteed $1 million pick four pool.

The Friday pick four returned $3,120.80 for $2, and the Saturday pick four paid a whopping $38,594.20.

Online player picks Derby top five

Officials with the Churchill Downs Simulcast Network said the $25,000 consolation prize in the second annual Pay Day online contest will be paid to a woman who selected the top five Derby finishers in order.

The winner, Nan Sako, from Ohio, is a member of Churchill's Twin Spires Club. Churchill officials were in the process Monday of validating the winning entry, since contestants are allowed only one entry. From about 250,000 entries, another 21 correctly selected the top four finishers, and 496 picked the first three.

The contest offers $5 million to anyone who can correctly pick the entire order of finish. The consolation prize was introduced this year.

The Pay Day contest was accessible via kentuckyderby.com, which drew 1.4 million hits on Derby Day. Churchill said the site got 827,000 hits on Derby Day last year.

Weekly handicapping contests begin

Churchill begins its weekly handicapping contest Wednesday on the balcony area adjacent to the old Jockey Club on the second-floor clubhouse. Last year, the contests were held at Louisville Trackside.

Daily Racing Form is a sponsor of the contests, which offer $2,000 in weekly prizes and $10,000 on June 30, when the finals will be held. More information is available at churchilldowns.com.

Owner-breeder's house burns down

Dr. David Richardson, a Louisville surgeon and horse owner, experienced the horrific misfortune of arriving home on Derby night to see that his house had burned down. A friend said a preliminary investigation had determined that lightning had apparently started the fire.

Richardson co-owned Mrs. Revere, an early-1980's star trained by Bill Mott, and has remained active as a breeder and owner.

- additional reporting by David Grening