05/16/2004 11:00PM

Ashado will skip Acorn

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ELMONT, N.Y. - Ashado, the Kentucky Oaks winner, missed a few days of training last week after contracting a fever, and will not run in the Grade 1 Acorn on June 4, trainer Todd Pletcher said Monday. Instead, Ashado will be pointed to the Grade 1, $300,000 Mother Goose Stakes here on June 26.

Pletcher said Ashado had a temperature of "101 and change" - about two degrees above normal - last Wednesday afternoon and she did not go to the track on Thursday, Friday or Saturday. Ashado was ridden under tack on Saturday, jogged on the track Sunday and galloped on Monday.

"Our approach to the Acorn was as long as everything went along perfectly we'd run," Pletcher said. "We'll just go straight to the Mother Goose."

Ashado, who finished second behind subsequent champion Halfbridled in last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Fillies, has ascended to the top of the 3-year-old filly division this year with victories in the Fair Grounds Oaks and Kentucky Oaks. Her lone loss in 2004 was a second-place finish behind Madcap Escapade in the Ashland at Keeneland.

Pletcher 3-year-olds get busy

Pletcher will not have a horse in this year's Belmont Stakes, but will still be plenty busy running his bevy of 3-year-olds in stakes around the country.

Limehouse, who finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby, worked a half-mile in 49.27 seconds Monday morning at Belmont. Pletcher is considering running him in either the $350,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on June 12 or the $200,000 Northern Dancer Stakes at Churchill Downs the same day. Pollard's Vision, who finished 17th in the Kentucky Derby, could be a candidate in whichever spot Limehouse does not run. Pollard's Vision has yet to breeze back since the Derby.

Value Plus worked four furlongs in 49.16 seconds on Monday and is being pointed toward the Grade 2, $200,000 Riva Ridge Stakes on the Belmont Stakes undercard. Forest Danger, the Bay Shore winner, is being pointed to the Grade 3, $300,000 Carry Back Stakes at Calder on July 10.

Strong Hope, Pletcher's top 3-year-old from last year, worked six furlongs in 1:15.11 on Monday and is likely to be Pletcher's only starter in the Grade 1, $750,000 Metropolitan Handicap at Belmont on May 31. Strong Hope, second in the Carter last out, worked in company with Chase Gap.

"In his last couple of works, we've had him sit behind a horse," Pletcher said. "We're not necessarily changing tactics - he's a horse that's going to show speed - but by the same token he's seemed to handle it. If we can get him to relax just off the pace, that might be attractive."

Read the Footnotes has knee chip

Read the Footnotes, winner of the Fountain of Youth and the seventh-place finisher in the Kentucky Derby, was to have a chip taken out of his right knee this week and will be out until fall, trainer Rick Violette said.

The chip was diagnosed last week and Read the Footnotes was to be sent to the New Jersey Equine Clinic to have the chip removed. The NJEC is the same facility that helped repair Smarty Jones after a gate accident in the summer of his juvenile season.

Violette said the chip is in the upper joint of Read the Footnotes's knee, a favorable position for a complete recovery. Read the Footnotes was being pointed to Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan Stakes at Belmont. Instead, Violette will run Swingforthefences, who Violette said could earn a Belmont Stakes start with an "off-the-screen" performance.

"It's pretty disappointing, Violette said. "We'll lead Swingforthefences over there and hopefully, he'll make the decision tough for us whether to go on to the Belmont or not."

Swingforthefences, a son of Boston Harbor, comes out of a fourth-place finish in the Wood Memorial.

Kimmel: Friends Lake needs a race

Last week, trainer John Kimmel wasn't sure whether he would compromise Friends Lake's chances in the Belmont Stakes by running him in the Peter Pan. This week, Kimmel said he believes his best chance to win the Belmont is by running in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Peter Pan.

On Monday, Friends Lake completed preparations for the Peter Pan by working four furlongs in 48.64 seconds over Belmont's main track. On May 10, Friends Lake, who won the Florida Derby but finished 15th in the Kentucky Derby, worked a strong six furlongs in 1:12.12 at Belmont.

Kimmel believes Friends Lake is one of the few horses that could have a chance of ruining Smarty Jones's Triple Crown bid because he feels his horse will like the distance.

"If we want to have a legitimate shot - and I think I've got one of horses that's got a legitimate shot to run with that horse at a mile and a half - I need to have a good race under my belt," Kimmel said.

Friends Lake is likely to face 10 rivals in the Peter Pan: Consecrate, Intimidator, Master David, Pies Prospect, Purge, Sinister G, Swingforthefences, Tiger Hunt, Wild Wadi, and Zakocity.

On Monday, Consecrate worked five furlongs in 59.61 seconds, the second fastest of 17 at the distance. Pies Prospect was credited with a five-furlong move in 1:00.15 while Purge went the same distance in 1:01.89.

McLaughlin's fine Preakness Day

Trainer Kiaran McLaughlin had a great day with his stakes runners on Saturday at Pimlico and Belmont. On the Preakness undercard, McLaughlin won the $100,000 William Donald Schaefer Handicap with Seattle Fitz and finished second with Millennium Dragon in the $200,000 Argent Dixie Handicap. At Belmont, the McLaughlin-trained Roar Emotion finished third in the $200,000 Shuvee Handicap.

McLaughlin said a likely spot for Seattle Fitz's next race is the $250,000 Brooklyn Handicap at Belmont on June 12. If the Brooklyn comes up too tough, McLaughlin said he could wait for the $500,000 Massachusetts Handicap at Suffolk Downs, a week after the Brooklyn.

"I'll probably opt for the Brooklyn because that's a one-turn race and that suits him well," McLaughlin said.

Last fall at Belmont, Seattle Fitz won a 1 1/8-mile allowance race - the distance of the Brooklyn - by 10 1/2 lengths and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 111.

McLaughlin was uncertain where Millennium Dragon would run back. In the Argent Dixie, Millennium Dragon was stuck behind a tiring horse in the stretch before getting clear late. He finished two lengths behind the winner, Mr O'Brien, who set a course record in the 1 1/8-mile turf race.

One race mentioned by McLaughlin as a possibility for Millennium Dragon is the $300,000 King Edward Breeders' Cup Handicap at Woodbine on June 19.

Roar Emotion, beaten a half-length and a nose in the Shuvee by Grade 1 winners Storm Flag Flying and Passing Shot, is a candidate for the $300,000 Ogden Phipps at Belmont on June 19 or the $300,000 Molly Pitcher Breeders' Cup at Monmouth Park on July 4.

"The Molly Pitcher at two turns is maybe better because she won the Sabin and Black-Eyed Susan around two turns," McLaughlin said.

McLaughlin said he would probably skip the $150,000 Vagrancy at Belmont on June 5 with Randaroo and instead point her to the $500,000 Princess Rooney at Calder on July 4. In her last start, Randaroo finished third in the Grade 1 Humana Distaff at Churchill Downs on May 1. After the race, McLaughlin said Randaroo had a case of the thumps - an electrolyte imbalance.

"She's a very light-framed filly and the trip to Kentucky took a little something out of her," McLaughlin. "Skipping the Vagrancy will give us a chance to get her back to herself."

Dynever's dud still a mystery

On Monday at Belmont, trainer Christophe Clement said he was "still puzzled" over Dynever's dull effort in Friday's Grade 1 Pimlico Special. Dynever finished fifth, beaten 11 1/4 lengths, as the 8-5 favorite.

Dynever returned to the track on Monday for the first time since the Pimlico Special for a jog around Belmont's main track.

Clement noted that Dynever came out of the race body sore, but sound.

In his start prior to the Pimlico Special, Dynever was an impressive winner of the San Bernardino Handicap at Santa Anita in April.

- additional reporting by Karen M. Johnson