08/19/2004 12:00AM

Ashado ready for an encore

Ashado, winning the Coaching Club American Oaks, seeks her third Grade 1 stakes win of the season in Saturday's Alabama.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Last year at Saratoga, Ashado looked awesome winning the Grade 2 Schuylerville and Grade 1 Spinaway in consecutive starts, and there is good reason to believe she will wow fans again this year at the Spa.

Ashado, the undisputed leader of the 3-year-old filly division, seeks her third Grade 1 win of 2004 in Saturday's $750,000 Alabama.

The Alabama shares the card with the Grade 1 Hopeful. Both races will be televised on a 90-minute ESPN telecast that begins at 5 p.m. Eastern.

will be the favorite in the nine-horse Alabama field. Her opponents include Grade 1 winners Society Selection and Stellar Jayne, and graded stakes winners Yearly Report and Last Song.

Ashado won her last start, the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont Park, by 4 1/2 lengths. The CCA Oaks was run at 1 1/4 miles, the distance of the Alabama.

This year, Ashado also won the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks and Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks, and finished second in the Grade 1 Mother Goose and Grade 1 Ashland.

Todd Pletcher, who trains Ashado, said the filly is something special.

"I think [Ashado] is a rare filly in that she keeps getting stronger in between races," Pletcher said. "She reminds me of Serena's Song when I worked for Wayne [Lukas]. She's a honest as they come and has never run a bad race."

John Velazquez rides Ashado, who is undefeated in four starts over wet tracks, from post 6. Rain is in the forecast.

, who is undefeated this year in four starts - all stakes - could be the second choice. Trained by Bob Baffert, who won the 1999 Alabama with Silverbulletday, Yearly Report won the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks on July 17. The Alabama will be the toughest spot Yearly Report has run in during her career.

Tonja Terranova, Baffert's New York assistant, said, "She does everything like a nice filly and definitely has the class."

Jerry Bailey, a four-time Alabama winner, rides Yearly Report from the rail.

Lukas, who has won the Alabama twice, will saddle the uncoupled entry of Stellar Jayne and Susan's Angel.

On June 26 at Belmont, Stellar Jayne won the Mother Goose over Ashado, who was making her first start since April 30. Stellar Jayne ran back in the CCA Oaks and finished second in the mud.

"The moisture in the track might have compromised her and probably helped Ashado," said Lukas. "I don't think we care for [mud]."

Susan's Angel, who won her maiden in May in the mud, makes her first start in a graded stakes.

"It's a big step, but I think she will relish the distance," Lukas said.

was an impressive winner of the Grade 1 Test at seven furlongs earlier in the meet. Her ability to get a distance is at question, but Society Selection's closing style could help her if a lively pace develops between Ashado and Stellar Jayne.

"There's one thing she likes for sure and that is coming off a strong pace," said Allen Jerkens, Society Selection's trainer.

Jerkens also will run Honor Point, who is not coupled with Society Selection and will be a longshot.

Barclay Tagg, who won last year's Alabama with Island Fashion, will run A Lulu ofa Menifee, who had a troubled trip in the Delaware Oaks and finished third.

, a New York-bred, is undefeated in four starts. This is her stakes debut.

The field

Alabama Stakes
Purse: $750,000; 1 1/4 miles; Grade 1

1Yearly ReportJ. Bailey2-1
2Susan's AngelP. Day10-1
3Fleet IndianE. Prado12-1
4Stellar JayneR. Albarado5-1
5Honor PointJ. Chavez30-1
6AshadoJ. Velazquez8-5
7A Lulu Ofa MenifeeR. Dominguez20-1
8Society SelectionC. Velasquez6-1
9Last SongR. Migliore30-1

* All starters carry 121 pounds
* Odds by Dan Illman
* Television: Saturday, 5-6:30 p.m.. (Eastern), ESPN