04/01/2005 1:00AM

Island Fashion will face Ashado


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Island Fashion, one of the best mares in the West, will take on reigning Eclipse Award champion Ashado next Saturday in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park. The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares will be co-featured on a program with the Grade 2, $500,000 Oaklawn Handicap.

The Apple Blossom and Oaklawn handicaps mark the start of the annual Racing Festival of the South, a series of nine stakes run over the last six days of the meet. Total purses for the stakes are $2,775,000.

Island Fashion is scheduled to fly into Oaklawn on April 7, said her trainer, Marcelo Polanco. She will add blinkers for the Apple Blossom, said Polanco. A rider has yet to be firmed up for Island Fashion, who has long been considered for the trip to Hot Springs. Last year, she was fourth in the Apple Blossom.

"It's a Grade 1 and a good race," said Polanco.

The Apple Blossom has been won the last three years by Azeri.

Among the other early probables are the California-based mares Good Student and Star Parade, and locally stabled Island Sand.

Second of June to Oaklawn 'Cap

Second of June will ship in from Calder Race Course for the Oaklawn Handicap if suitable flight arrangements can be made, his trainer, Bill Cesare, said Friday.

In his last start, Second of June was third to Badge of Silver and Limehouse in the Grade 2, $500,000 New Orleans Handicap at Fair Grounds on March 12.

Cesare said Second of June would work on Sunday or Monday. Second of June has been assigned 113 pounds for the Oaklawn Handicap.

Eddington is the co-highweight with Pollard's Vision at 117 pounds. Eddington is scheduled to fly in from Florida on Wednesday, according to Oaklawn officials. Limehouse is weighted next at 115 for the 1 1/8-mile race. Officials are hopeful they will draw either Pollard's Vision or Limehouse, both of whom are trained by Todd Pletcher.

Ghostzapper, who was being pointed for the Oaklawn 'Cap before coming down with a sinus infection, was declared from the race before the weights were issued on Thursday.

The defection might entice some locals to enter. Trainer Billy McKeever said Friday he will consider the race for Crowned King, a multiple stakes winner. If he does not go in the Oaklawn Handicap, Crowned King will be pointed for the Grade 3, $100,000 Fifth Season Breeders' Cup on April 13.

Wild Desert may go in Arkansas Derby

Trainer Ken McPeek said Friday that Wild Desert, runner-up to Flower Alley in the Grade 2, $500,000 Lane's End at Turfway Park, is being strongly considered for Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby April 16.

McPeek said Wild Desert is also under consideration for the Illinois Derby on Saturday or the Blue Grass at Keeneland April 16.

"We're leaning toward the Arkansas Derby right now," said McPeek, who trains Wild Desert for Dan Borislow and Carl Gessler Jr. "We'll make a decision in the next few days."

Flower Alley was committed to the Arkansas Derby on Thursday. Also pointing for the 1 1/8-mile race are Afleet Alex, Baston Challenge, Greater Good, Real Dandy, and Rockport Harbor.

She Sings shipping in for Fantasy

In addition to sending Island Fashion for the Apple Blossom, Polanco plans to run She Sings in the Grade 2, $250,000 Fantasy April 15.

In her last start, She Sings was third to divisional leader Sweet Catomine in the Grade 1 Santa Anita Oaks. Prior to that race, She Sings won the Arizona Oaks at Turf Paradise by 10 lengths on Feb. 12.

Casey Fusilier, who rode She Sings in the Arizona Oaks, has the call in the Fantasy, said Polanco. She Sings is scheduled to fly in from Southern California on April 13.

Jill Robin L, winner of the Grade 2 Bonnie Miss at Gulfstream Park in her last start on March 5, is being pointed for the Fantasy, said trainer Bob Holthus. Jill Robin L will be making her first start for Holthus in the Fantasy.

Oaklawn officials are also expecting Northern Mischief, who was third in the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet, and R Lady J, winner of the $150,000 Florida Oaks at Tampa Bay Downs in her last start March 19.

Ragula is also expected for the Fantasy, while Round Pond, winner of the $75,000 Honeybee in her last start, remains under consideration for the race, said her trainer, John Servis.

Isabell's Shoes, who won the $50,000 Martha Washington earlier this meet, is being considered for the Fantasy, according to her trainer, Jinks Fires.

* Saltwater Runner, a two-time stakes winner and one of the best sprinting fillies based at Oaklawn, has been retired, said Holthus, who trained her for Lewis Lakin. Saltwater Runner won 5 of 9 starts and $146,808 and is to be bred to Cozzene.