06/04/2001 11:00PM

Hennig in Fashion as usual - with ace


ELMONT, N.Y. - The New York Racing Association's decision in 1999 to revive the Fashion Stakes after a 16-year hiatus has certainly paid off for trainer Mark Hennig.

Hennig won the five-furlong race for 2-year-old fillies in each of the last two years and shoots for a third straight, with Ghost Wrestling in Thursday's 88th running of the Fashion. A field of nine was entered for the $75,000 race, which shares billing with the $100,000, Grade 1 Meadowbrook Steeplechase.

Like her eight rivals, Ghost Wrestling has only a maiden win to her credit. But it came from the outside post in a 12-horse field last month at Churchill Downs. Ghost Wrestling raced five wide early before taking command in upper stretch and drawing clear to win by almost five lengths.

"She's a pretty nice filly," said Hennig, whose 1999 and 2000 Fashion winners were Gilded Diablo and With Ability, respectively. "I thought she was pretty impressive. It's coming back a little quicker than I'd like."

John Velazquez rides Ghost Wrestling from post 6.

Ghost Wrestling's biggest challenge figures to come from Smok'n Frolic, a four-length winner of a five-furlong maiden race in her second start on May 16. Like Ghost Wrestling, Smok'n Frolic led at every pole while covering the distance in 58.31 seconds. Jerry Bailey rides from post 3.

Trainer Todd Pletcher said Smok'n Frolic's debut - in which she finished fourth at Keeneland - is a better race than it looks on paper.

"She broke a little slow, got dirt in her face, and jumped up and down,'' Pletcher said. "She actually made a little bit of a run, which is not easy to do at Keeneland. She's actually doing very well. She's put on weight since her last race."

If the track comes up wet - and there are showers in the forecast for Thursday - My Heart's Deelite could be the one to beat. She proved herself a slop-lover, winning a five-furlong maiden race by 4 3/4 lengths here on May 24.