09/25/2009 12:00AM

Rare route for Ashley's Kitty

Email

POMONA, Calif. - Ashley's Kitty is favored Saturday to do something she has never done at Fairplex Park or anywhere else - win a race that is not a sprint.

Eight fillies and mares entered the $50,000 Las Madrinas Handicap, and trainer Ted H. West is fully aware Ashley's Kitty may be challenged at 1 1/16 miles. She is 7 for 14 in sprints, but did not hit the board in three route races.

"It's a distance she hasn't performed well at, but at this track, horses that are maybe distance-limited tend to perform a little better," West said.

Distance is the theme for Ashley's Kitty in the Las Madrinas (race 9), and front-runner All Saint in the $50,000 Pomona Derby (race 11), also at 1 1/16 miles.

The Las Madrinas and Pomona Derby purses have been sliced in half; last year both were $100,000 stakes. Ashley's Kitty has earned $331,238 from 17 starts; her maximum value will be realized when she is sold as a broodmare.

"I'd love to keep her because she's really good now," West said, "but she's worth a lot as a broodmare." Ashley's Kitty won the Grade 3 Railbird at 3. This spring her sibling Heart Ashley won two Grade 3's to flatter the family pedigree. Chris Coleman owns Ashley's Kitty, who is scheduled for auction at the Keeneland breeding stock sale in November.

Agapito Delgadillo rode Ashley's Kitty to a smart Fairplex sprint victory 13 days ago, the $50,000 Bangles and Beads at 6 1/2 furlongs. West hopes the horse-for-course angle - Ashley's Kitty has a win and second in two races at Fairplex - will over-ride possible distance limitations. Her routes were early in her career on unfamiliar ground.

"A couple of those route races were turf, and she just didn't like turf at all," West said. At Fairplex Park, West said "they just keep running around these turns."

Ashley's Kitty is the 120-pound top weight and the tepid 5-2 favorite on the preliminary track line. There are a lot of ways to go after the favorite.

Christmas Ship won a similar stakes one back on July 12 at Pleasanton for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Leading jockey Martin Pedroza rides. Czechers is a front-running stakes winner. Magical Victory can improve second start back. Mohaka will roll late. Carmel Coffee, Made for Magic, and Champagne Eyes also entered.