12/30/2009 12:00AM

Dashel gets a prep for Leggio


NEW ORLEANS - For Dashel, Friday's feature is just part of the quest for black type. To prepare her for the Jan. 23 Leggio Stakes, Dashel's connections have entered her in the fourth race, a third-level allowance for fillies and mares with a $62,500 claiming option at 5 1/2 furlongs over the Fair Grounds turf.

Dashel has been impressive in her first four races, with three wins and a third, beaten a half-length. She took a large step forward in her last race, an allowance race for 3-year-old fillies at Keeneland on Oct. 22. She overcame traffic trouble to win the 5 1/2-furlong turf sprint by a half-length.

"It was a real gutsy race on her part," trainer Neil Pessin said. "She was stuck behind at the quarter pole and it didn't look like she was going to get any part of it. Then she got through and exploded to the finish."

Though this is Dashel's first race with Pessin as the trainer of record - Chris Block had been listed as trainer - Pessin had her in his barn for the Keeneland race. He said she runs and trains keeping something in reserve.

"She just does what she has to do to win," Pessin said. "We're trying to get a race in her before the Leggio, and she's sitting on go. I just hope they keep it on the turf."

Dashel will face eight opponents, including fellow 4-year-old Seeking Ms Shelley, who has 3 wins and 3 seconds from 6 starts.

Seeking Ms Shelley's last start was a tough-trip second at this condition on a sloppy main track at Fair Grounds. She stalked the pace early, then was boxed in and never really got to run her race.

"She was more aggressive getting away than she needed to be," trainer Joe Duhon said. "She jumped in the bridle and didn't really relax."

Seeking Ms Shelley is reunited with jockey Francisco Torres for this race. Torres helped her run the best race of her short career on Sept. 24, when she came from six lengths back to dominate a second-level allowance with a $20,000 claiming option at Louisiana Downs, winning by 11 lengths.

That performance came in a race taken off the turf and run on the main track. With rain coming down Wednesday and more predicted, she could be running on the main track again Friday.

"She has two wins and a second over the main track," Duhon said. "So we'll be running either way."