12/05/2009 12:00AM

Awesome Ashley gets up in time

Adam Coglianese/NYRA
Awesome Ashley comes on late to win the Garland of Roses by a neck over Lady Alexander.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - Two starters proved better than one for trainer Todd Pletcher in Saturday's Garland of Roses Handicap at Aqueduct.

At the eighth pole of the at saturated Aqueduct, it appeared as though the Pletcher-trained Distorted Passion, the 5-2 favorite, was going to win. But it soon became apparent she wasn't going to be able to hold off Lady Alexander. In the final 30 yards, however, Pletcher's other horse, Awesome Ashley, came flying under Anna Napravnik to get past Lady Alexander by a neck and win the 24th running of the Garland of Roses. It was another half-length back to Distorted Passion in third.

"I got a little bit worried inside the eighth pole that [Distorted Passion] idled a little bit when she made the lead," said Pletcher, who has gotten off to a 5-for-8 start at the inner-track meet. "Then I was worried that she wouldn't hold off [Lady Alexander]. But I could see the other filly was gaining momentum, hoping it was enough to get there."

On the inner track, it usually is for Awesome Ashley. In winning her sixth race from 26 starts, Awesome Ashley, a 5-year-old daughter of Unbridled's Song, made it 3 for 6 over the inner track. Her last victory came on Feb. 27, when she beat Distorted Passion by 1 1/2 lengths in the Feel the Beat Stakes, also over the inner track. Awesome Ashley was somewhat overlooked - she returned $12.80 - Saturday perhaps due to her 0 for 3 record over wet tracks. She ran the six furlongs in 1:11.91 over sloppy track.

"Honestly, I think this filly just loves the inner track, it's hard to explain why,'' said Pletcher, who trains Awesome Ashley for Alex Campbell Jr.

The victory was one of three on the day for the 21-year-old Napravnik.

Pletcher said Awesome Ashley would likely run a few more times over the inner track before she is bred in March. Races for which she may be pointed include the Interborough on New Year's Day and the Correction on Jan. 30.