12/18/2008 12:00AM

Shorter race may help Askmetodance

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Distance could be a deciding factor on Saturday when Etoile de Dome and Askmetodance get a rematch in the $125,000 La Coneja for 3-year-old New Mexico-bred fillies at Sunland Park. The two finished a half-length apart last out in the $150,000 New Mexico Cup Filly at Zia on Nov. 9, with Etoile de Dome edging the favored Askmetodance at six furlongs. For the La Coneja, the pair will race 5 1/2 furlongs, a distance at which Askmetodance defeated Etoile de Dome this past August at Ruidoso Downs.

"Etoile de Dome is doing extremely well, about as good as she can be doing," said Chris Hartman, who trains Etoile de Dome, the probable favorite, for M Bar O LLC. "Distance is the only thing that bothers me a little bit. Shortening up a half-furlong might benefit Askmetodance."

All three of Etoile de Dome's stakes wins have come at six furlongs. In addition to the New Mexico Cup Filly and the New Mexico Cup Juvenile, she has won the $50,000 Chief Narbona at Albuquerque. Etoile de Dome will break from the rail in the La Coneja, and Hartman has given the mount to Ken Tohill. The trainer and jockey teamed to win the first Thoroughbred stakes of the Sunland meet, last weekend's $50,000 KLAQ Handicap, with Wind Water.

Askmetodance brings a strong local record to the table, having won two of her three starts at Sunland, including the $125,000 La Senora Handicap in January. Overall, she has won 5 of 8 starts and $221,960. Ray Ashford Jr. trains Askmetodance and has given the mount to A. J. Martinez.

Sweetghostrun, who is also part of the 10-horse field Saturday, can take advantage if a duel develops between Etoile de Dome and Askmetodance, both of whom are front-runners. She finished third to the two fillies in the New Mexico Cup, closing from eighth under regular rider Martin Bourdieu. Sweetghostrun has raced once since then, and used stalking tactics when second by a half-length in a $25,000 optional claimer at Zia on Dec. 1. She is trained by Fred Danley.