08/26/2005 12:00AM

Shadow Cast upsets Ashado

Shadow Cast, Robby Albarado up, races to a 2 3/4-length victory in Friday's Personal Ensign Stakes at Saratoga. She paid $31 for the win.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - What a difference a day makes.

On Thursday, trainer Neil Howard watched his 4-5 favorite Reunited finish third in the Victory Ride Stakes. But Howard bounced back in a big way 24 hours later, sending out Shadow Cast to register a 2 3/4-length upset victory in the Grade 1 in a field that included division leader and reigning Breeders' Cup Distaff winner Ashado.

Ashado, the 2-5 favorite off two straight easy Grade 1 victories, tired badly after chasing the pace into the stretch. She finished in a dead heat for fourth with Island Sand, 14 lengths behind Shadow Cast.

The Personal Ensign was the first Grade 1 win for Shadow Cast, a homebred daughter of Smart Strike owned by William Farish Jr. She paid $31 after covering 1 1/4 miles in 2:02.07.

As expected, Two Trail Sioux set the pace, with Ashado tracking her through fractions of 23.02 seconds, 46.84, and 1:11.23, with Shadow Cast content to race near the back of the pack for nearly six furlongs. Shadow Cast angled out four wide under jockey Robby Albarado while commencing her rally around the second turn, easily ran by Two Trail Sioux into the stretch, then remained clear under steady urging.

Personal Legend rallied along the rail and was easily second best, finishing 9 1/2 lengths in front of the leg weary Two Trail Sioux.

Ashado never responded when called upon by jockey John Velazquez approaching the quarter pole and tired badly through the stretch.

"She warmed up well and was right where we wanted to be, but she never grabbed the bridle," said Velazquez. "She just wasn't herself today."

"She was flat leaving the gate and ran flat the whole way," said trainer Todd Pletcher.

Howard said he didn't think seriously about the Personal Ensign until 10 days before the race.

"We almost forgot about this race after she ran poorly in the Diana," said Howard referring to Shadow Cast's seventh-place finish in the Diana on grass. "But then she worked a great six furlongs and came back a week later and blew out a half-mile in 48 while bent in half. She was just doing too well not to run her in a Grade 1 race. Obviously, Ashado didn't run her race today, but she'll be back."