10/19/2009 11:00PM

Easy Ashley gets a shot at Cal-breds


ARCADIA, Calif. - It has taken more than two years to get Easy Ashley into a race in California, but perhaps the third year will be the charm when Easy Ashley, a five-time winner in Kentucky, New York, and New Jersey, competes in Thursday's featured seventh race at Santa Anita's Oak Tree meeting.

Easy Ashley has been competing against open company her whole career, so even though she appears to be moving up in class to a $42,000 first-level allowance on Thursday, she is taking a subtle, significant class drop into a race restricted to California-breds.

Easy Ashley, 4, was bred in California by Wesley Ward, who trains her and is her co-owner in a partnership. Ward said Easy Ashley originally trained in California, but circumstances have prevented her from running here until now.

"She was out there as a 2-year-old," Ward said Tuesday morning from Florida, where he is based, "and she was getting ready to make her first start at Del Mar, but she reared up one morning, fell over backwards, and injured her withers. It messed her neck up. She was out the rest of the year."

Easy Ashley finally made her debut at Churchill Downs in May 2008, and after winning first time out raced in Kentucky and New York through the summer.

"I was going to send her out there last fall, but she chipped a knee," Ward said.

Off from September 2008 until April 2009, Easy Ashley again fired fresh, winning her comeback. She later came to California following a starter-allowance win at Saratoga on Aug. 5.

"I wanted to run her in that starter race, because I knew she'd win it," Ward said. "I sent her out to California, but I've waited all this time for a Cal-bred nonwinners allowance race going less than seven furlongs to go."

There are several others with good recent form in Thursday's race. Earstoyou finished second in similar Cal-bred allowance sprints in her last two starts, both at Del Mar, and Streakin Excess was third, behind Earstoyou, in a Del Mar allowance on Sept. 6.

An intriguing longshot is Red Tomatoes, who returns off a nearly 14-month layoff for trainer Marty Jones. Red Tomatoes proved she could run well fresh when winning her debut at Hollywood Park in May 2008. She has not raced since August 2008.

"She had a little trouble with her hind end, so we took our time with her," Jones said. "She's trained well. She's got a nice outside post."