05/05/2004 11:00PM

Island Sand-Ashado clash looms

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Trainer Larry Jones said Thursday that Kentucky Oaks runner-up Island Sand may not race again until the June 26 Mother Goose, the Grade 1, 1 1/8-mile race at Belmont Park that just happens to be the major early-summer goal for her Oaks conqueror, Ashado.

"We don't know exactly what will be next," Jones said from his primary summer base at Prairie Meadows in Iowa. "We may have a race before the Mother Goose, or we might not."

Jones said the May 30 Dogwood Stakes at Churchill Downs is a possible interim race, but "the main idea is we probably want to go into the Mother Goose with a fresh horse. We'll take a little more time to think about, then see what happens."

Island Sand currently is based at Ellis Park in western Kentucky with Jones's two assistants: his wife, Cindy, and Jeff Barkley. By rallying to finish second in the Oaks last Friday, Island Sand finished ahead of a number of highly regarded fillies while confirming the faith that Jones, 47, had expressed in her.

"She had a lot of ground to catch up on these other fillies," said Jones, who has about 32 horses split between Prairie and Ellis. "She actually made up more than we could've hoped for. We're extremely pleased with how she ran."

Island Sand, by Tabasco Cat, is owned by Jim Osborne's B.A. Man Stable. In her final Oaks prep, Island Sand finished second to House of Fortune in the Fantasy Stakes at Oaklawn Park. House of Fortune ran eighth in the Oaks.

Midway Road preps for Special

Midway Road will have a final blowout for the May 14 Pimlico Special here Sunday before getting on a noon charter flight to Maryland, said trainer Neil Howard.

"He'll breeze, although every day is almost like a breeze for him, he's such a tough son of a gun," said Howard. "He's doing super. I just need to keep him fit and happy, and hopefully we'll go up there and do some good."

Howard and jockey Robby Albarado, who rides Midway Road, won the Pimlico Special last year with Mineshaft, the eventual Horse of the Year. The opposition in the Grade 1 Pimlico Special this year is expected to include Funny Cide, Southern Image, and Dynever.

In his last start, Midway Road captured the Ben Ali Stakes at Keeneland by 11 1/4 lengths and earned an eye-popping 123 Beyer Speed Figure.

Big day for Simon

Trainer Chuck Simon enjoyed a memorable day here Wednesday. From three starters, Simon saddled Here's to Andrew to win the fourth race, then sent out the one-two finishers, Mail Call and Surrey, in the seventh race.

"Outside a dead heat, it really couldn't have got much better," said Simon.

May 19 will mark five years since Simon, 35, began training on his own. He worked 5 1/2 years under Hall of Fame trainer Allen Jerkens before going public.

Johnston back in winner's circle

By guiding Blackjack Canyon to a narrow victory in the fifth race here Wednesday, jockey Mark Johnston won for the first time since suffering a broken collarbone in the March spill that killed fellow jockey Mike Rowland at Turfway Park.

Johnston, a winner of 3,085 races, said the Wednesday win was one of his more hard-earned triumphs. Blackjack Canyon barely lasted after attempting to bear out in deep stretch.

"It wasn't pretty, but it counts," said Johnston.

Badge of Silver recuperating

Badge of Silver is expected back in trainer Ronny Werner's Churchill barn within the next couple of weeks following his recovery from a minor procedure to have a keratoma, a small cyst-like growth, removed from a front hoof.

Owner Ken Ramsey said this week that Badge of Silver currently is undergoing regular treatments in a hyperbaric chamber to promote the healing process. Badge of Silver, a 4-year-old colt, was scratched from the Carter Handicap last month.

"We don't really have anything in particular in mind for him, except getting him back," said Ramsey.

Kuntzweiler moving to Arlington

Jockey Greta Kuntzweiler, a fixture on the Kentucky circuit since 1999, is moving to Arlington Park for the summer, said agent Bob Nastanovich.

Kuntzweiler, 28, spent the winter at Oaklawn Park, then rode sparingly at Keeneland and Churchill before deciding to switch to Arlington, where many of her Oaklawn clients will spend the summer.

Quick pick nearly connects

Amazingly enough, three pick six tickets were still alive heading into the last race Wednesday. But then Marnie's Heirloom won at 66-1, making for a track-record carryover pool of $855,542 into the Thursday card.

Churchill mutuels officials report that one of the three live tickets was a "quick pick," purchased ontrack; that ticket needed No. 3, Ideal Scenario, in the last race. The other two tickets were purchased at Keeneland and through the Maine hub that services many offshore wagering outlets. Sean's Baby (No. 1) and One Charming Devil (No. 4) were the other live runners.

Although they lost the last race, those ticket holders still were the only fans to collect a five-of-six consolation payout of $65,255 each.