08/24/2006 12:00AM

Ashkal Way figures to fire again

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Joseph Brown / EquiPhotos
Ashkal Way, who has three wins and a second since coming to North America, should get the pace he needs in Saturday's Bernard Baruch.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ashkal Way had his three-race North American winning streak snapped when he finished second in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap three weeks ago. Though he comes back on relatively short rest, he may be well spotted to start another streak in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Bernard Baruch Handicap at Saratoga.

The Bernard Baruch, run at 1 1/8 miles over the Mellon Turf Course, features the return of Badge of Silver to the races following a near nine-month layoff. A field of 10 was entered for the Bernard Baruch, but the race will lose one of its main contenders, Fishy Advice, who will scratch after sustaining an injury to his left hind stifle.

Ashkal Way, a 4-year-old Irish-bred gelding, won his first three North American starts, including a course-record win in the Elkwood Stakes at Monmouth on July 15. In the Fourstardave, he finished second to Remarkable News, who was able to set modest fractions on the lead.

"I was real happy with his race the other day," said assistant trainer Rick Mettee, who oversees Godolphin Racing's New York-based runners. "With him you're going to get a good race. He's going to sit back, launch his move. Hopefully, we get a little more pace to run at.

"It looks like there's an honest pace with [T. D. Vance] in there."

Ashkal Way will be coupled in the wagering with Etesaal, a listed stakes winner in Europe who makes his North American debut in this spot. Mettee said he had planned to run Etesaal in the Bowling Green at Belmont, but the horse got sick around the same time as Discreet Cat, who was scheduled to run in an allowance race on Friday.

T. D. Vance comes in off an ugly-looking running line in the Poker Handicap, where he set the early pace before tiring to last. His trainer, Graham Motion, said T. D. Vance came out of the race with a 104-degree temperature. Motion said the horse has been training super at Fair Hill.

"He's actually worked better than he's had all year, which is what gave me encouragement to go into this race," Motion said. "If he runs back to his form last year when he ran up there, certainly he should be competitive."

T. D. Vance won last year's Grade 2 Hall of Fame Stakes over this course.

Badge of Silver is the likely favorite in the Bernard Baruch, but the 6-year-old has not run since taking the Grade 2 San Gabriel Handicap on turf at Santa Anita on New Year's Day. He has undergone ankle surgery in the interim. Trainer Bobby Frankel said he does not feel this is a difficult challenge first time back off the layoff.

"If it's Grade 3 horses, it's not a tall order; if it's Grade 1 horses, it's a tall order," Frankel said.

Dreadnaught has a win and a narrow loss to Better Talk Now in his last two starts at 1 1/8 miles. Quest Star and Terrific Storm add depth to this field.