08/25/2006 11:00PM

Ashkal Way's late kick does the job


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ashkal Way unleashed a strong closing kick under Garrett Gomez to outfinish Dreadnaught through the stretch and win Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 by a neck at Saratoga.

Dreadnaught finished second by three-quarters of a length over longshot Interpatation, who rallied up the hedge under John Velazquez. T.D. Vance, Leadwithyourchin, Etesaal, Quest Star, and Terrific Storm completed the order of finish.

The race lost two of its primary contenders when Badge of Silver (feet problems) and Fishy Advice (stifle injury) were both scratched.

It was the fourth victory in five North American starts for Ashkal Way, an Irish-bred son of Ashkalani owned by Sheikh Mohammed's Godolphin Racing and trained by Saeed bin Suroor.

Ashkal Way suffered his lone North American loss when he couldn't overcome a slow pace to run down a loose on the lead Remarkable News in the Grade 2 Fourstardave Handicap on Aug. 6.

Saturday, the pace was basically the same as it was in the Fourstardave, but the added sixteenth of a mile may have benefited Ashkal Way.

Gomez had Ashkal Way in sixth position saving ground as T.D. Vance set fractions of 24.42 seconds, 48.23 and 1:11.79 for the opening six furlongs. Gomez advanced Ashkal Way along the inside entering the far turn, and he tipped him three wide turning for home. When Gomez got into Ashkal Way he responded with a strong kick, outsprinting a game Dreadnaught to the wire. Ashkal Way covered the 1 1/8 miles over firm turf in 1:46.78 and returned $3.40 as the favorite.

"I really thought that at nine furlongs it wouldn't be quite an issue," assistant trainer Rick Mettee said when asked if he was concerned about the modest pace. "Garrett's been saying we should go longer with him."

The victory was the fourth on the card and second stakes win for Gomez, who also won the Ballston Spa Breeders' Cup.

"I thought there was enough early pace," Gomez said. "I thought if they went quick, enough, I could tuck in. Turning up the backside I was afraid they'd slow it down in my face but down the backside the pace stayed pretty bold, and when I asked this colt to run he did. The Godolphin team had him ready."