04/09/2007 12:00AM

Christmas Kid will pass on Oaks try


LEXINGTON, Ky. - In virtually any other year, a victory in the Ashland Stakes automatically means a berth in the Kentucky Oaks. In fact, not since Hall of Fame trainer Shug McGaughey bypassed the Oaks with Inside Information in 1994 has the Ashland winner missed the Oaks.

But the Ashland winner will be missing from the lineup when the Oaks is run for the 133rd time May 4 at Churchill Downs. Christmas Kid, winner of the Grade 1 Ashland on Saturday at Keeneland for breeder-owner Edward P. Evans, returned to Belmont Park in New York the following day and probably will not race again until the Grade 1 Acorn, a one-mile race at her home track June 9, according to trainer Jimmy Jerkens.

Jerkens, who was not present for the Ashland, said Monday at Belmont that he has concerns about Christmas Kid's ability to get the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Oaks. Christmas Kid narrowly held on to win the 1 1/16-mile Ashland after the odds-on favorite, Octave, closed stoutly in the final yards.

"It's a little soon," Jerkens said about running back in the Oaks, "and she's got the Grade 1 under her belt. It doesn't really seem to make sense to wheel her right back, ship her again, and go a sixteenth of a mile further. We might even try the turf again."

Christmas Kid, by Lemon Drop Kid, is 2 for 3 on grass, including a victory in the Tropical Park Oaks at Calder.

Meanwhile, Octave definitely will run back in the Oaks, said Jack Wolf, whose Starlight Stable co-owns the filly with Don Lucarelli.

"She sure did come running there in the end," said Wolf.

Like most of the top horses trained by Todd Pletcher, Octave will be stabled and train at Keeneland until midway through Kentucky Derby week. Besides Octave, Pletcher has the likely favorite, Rags to Riches, pointing to the Oaks.

Two-man show among riders in early going

Garrett Gomez and Julien Leparoux got off to the fastest starts among jockeys at the Keeneland spring meet. Both rode five winners, accounting for half of the 20 races run during the two-day opening weekend, with Gomez having an especially productive afternoon when riding four winners Saturday.

Gomez and Leparoux will ride all 15 days of the meet, according to their respective agents, Ron Anderson and Steve Bass.

A breather for Kelly's Landing

Trainer Eddie Kenneally said Kelly's Landing, winner of the $2 million Dubai Golden Shaheen on March 31, returned from his overseas trip in "perfect shape" but will be turned out this week at the owner's Lexington farm, Summerplace Farm, after spending a few days at Keeneland.

"We'll probably run him a time or two before the Breeders' Cup Sprint" on Oct. 27 at Monmouth Park, said Kenneally. "I couldn't be happier with him."

McLaughlin to mix it up

Shadwell Stable and trainer Kiaran McLaughlin are planning a switcheroo for the next races for two of its stars. Jazil, the 2006 Belmont Stakes winner, will make his grass debut in the Grade 3 Elkhorn Stakes at 1 1/2 miles on closing day, April 27, while Mustanfar, heretofore a turf specialist, will switch to Polytrack for the Grade 3 Ben Ali on April 26, according to assistant trainer Neal McLaughlin. Mustanfar has not raced on anything but turf since May 2004.

Jazil, second in two starts this year, both of them allowance races on dirt, had a sharp workout last Friday when going a half-mile on Polytrack in 48 seconds.

* With the $750,000 Blue Grass on Saturday as the anchor, this is a huge week of stakes activity at Keeneland. Starting with the $200,000 Madison on Wednesday, the schedule also includes the $250,000 Beaumont on Thursday, the $250,000 Maker's Mark Mile on Friday, the $400,000 Commonwealth Breeders' Cup and $200,000 Jenny Wiley on the Saturday undercard, and the $100,000 Shakertown on Sunday.

* Veteran jockeys Mark Guidry and Shaun Bridgmohan figure to achieve milestone victories before the Keeneland meet is out. Going into Wednesday, Guidry had 4,994 career winners, while Bridgmohan stood at 1,996.

* At least one in six people in attendance here Friday was a college student, according to statistics provided by David Schneck of the Kentucky Thoroughbred Association, the horsemen's organization that co-sponsors a biannual college scholarship raffle with Keeneland. Of the 16,587 ontrack fans, 2,755 used their college I.D.'s for free admission, and more than 1,600 of those registered for the raffle, in which 10 scholarships worth $1,000 each were given away.

- additional reporting by David Grening