07/31/2005 11:00PM

Personal Ensign becomes an option for Ashado


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - Ashado munched on peppermints Monday, a day after winning her seventh Grade 1 in the at Saratoga, and her trainer, Todd Pletcher, looked ahead to his next move with the leader of the filly and mare division.

In the winner's circle following Ashado's 9 1/2-length win in the Go for Wand, Pletcher said he would target the Ruffian on Sept. 11 and the Beldame on Oct. 1, before running Ashado in the Breeders' Cup Distaff on Oct. 29 at Belmont Park. Ashado, last year's champion 3-year-old filly, won the Breeders' Cup last year.

Monday morning, Pletcher said there was a small possibility that Ashado could run again at Saratoga in the Grade 1 Personal Ensign on Aug. 26.

"The Ruffian and Beldame was our original plan, and we will probably stick with it, but there is a little window of opportunity for the Personal Ensign," Pletcher said. "If she is bucking and squealing, we may run."

Pletcher said he wishes the Ruffian were run one week sooner, but he likes the timing of the Beldame, which is four weeks before the Breeders' Cup. Last year, Pletcher used the Cotillion at Philadelphia Park as Ashado's prep for the Breeders' Cup. The Cotillion, which she won, was run four weeks before the Distaff.

In winning the Go for Wand, Ashado raised her earnings to $3,245,440, which makes her the fifth-highest-earning filly or mare.

Ashado's margin of victory in the Go for Wand was the biggest of her career.

"I didn't think she was the type of horse who would win by nine and a half," Pletcher said, "because she has the tendency to idle [on the lead]. From that standpoint, it was her most impressive race."

Pletcher, who has a sizable lead in the standings with 11 wins after the first six days of the meet, said that Flower Alley came out of his Jim Dandy victory well and is on target for the Travers on Aug. 27.

The Pletcher-trained Ready's Gal, the winner of Friday's Lake George, is a possibility for the Lake Placid on Aug. 19. Willard Straight, a winner for Pletcher in a optional claiming turf race on Sunday, is possible for the Grade 2 Fourstardave on Travers Day.

"We're off to a terrific start," said Pletcher, who has won the Saratoga title the last three years. "We knew we had some good opportunities and just needed for everything to fall into place, and so far it has."

Dutrow expects big race from Saint Liam

Richard Dutrow Jr., back from a 60-day medication suspension, on Monday worked the star in his barn, Saint Liam, for Saturday's $750,000 Whitney. Saint Liam covered five furlongs over the training track in 1:02.30.

Dutrow is feeling confident heading into the Whitney, and said if Saint Liam runs like he did in the Stephen Foster at Churchill, he will be tough to beat.

"I feel if he likes the track and everything is good, I think he will run big," Dutrow said by phone after winning the first race on Monday with Life Savior. "I certainly would like him to run the way he ran last time; it was a very professional race."

Dutrow said he thinks that Saint Liam could be tops in the handicap division this year.

"I think it is his division to give up," Dutrow said.

Saint Liam, the likely favorite and 122-pound highweight, is expected to meet Eurosilver, Limehouse, Pollard's Vision, and Wiggins. Trainer Nick Zito said he will run at least one of the Tracy Farmer-owned pair of Commentator and Sir Shackleton.

On Monday, Pollard's Vision worked five furlongs on the main track in 1:01.12. Sunday, Limehouse worked five furlongs in 1:00.26.

Sword Dancer possibilities

The racing office released its first 14 invitees to the Grade 1 Sword Dancer Invitational on Aug. 13. The invitees are Better Talk Now, Cool Conductor, Dreadnaught, Fourty Niners Son, Good Reward, King's Drama, Kitten's Joy, Meteor Storm, Mustanfar, Prince Arch, Relaxed Gesture, Request for Parole, Silverfoot, and Vangelis. An alternate list of invitees will be released on Aug. 8.

On Monday, Relaxed Gesture worked a half-mile in 47.70 seconds over the turf at Oklahoma. Meteor Storm worked six furlongs on the main track in 1:13.44.

* Zito said that Noble Causeway is fine. Noble Causeway was scratched from the Jim Dandy after jockey Jerry Bailey alerted the track veterinarian that the horse wasn't warming up well. Zito said he would work Noble Causeway sometime this week.

* Spotlight, who was scratched from Saturday's Diana to run in this Sunday's Matchmaker at Monmouth Park, worked a half-mile in 48.74 seconds on the Oklahoma turf on Monday. Wonder Again, who was scratched from the Diana to run in the

Beverly D. at Arlington on Aug. 13, worked five furlongs in 58.90.

* When trainer Leo O'Brien won Sunday's sixth race with Positively Wild, it was his first win at Saratoga since he saddled Some Irish Legend to win on Aug. 28, 2002. Now trained by Pat Reynolds, Some Irish Legend finished fifth behind Positively Wild on Sunday.

* Stolen Identity became the first two-time winner at the meet when he won the first race on Sunday. Stolen Identity also won the second race on opening day. Stolen Identity was claimed on Sunday for $30,000 by trainer Gary Contessa and owner Peter Canzone Sr.

* Scott Blasi, an assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, was fined $500 for using foul language while speaking to a racing office employee.

* Jockey Rafael Bejarano was sent to Saratoga hospital with a possible injury to his ankle after he was dumped by his mount, Sadler's Charm, in the gate for Monday's fifth race. Sadler's Charm was scratched.