05/19/2005 11:00PM

Slop lover Silmaril wears down Ashado

Silmaril (left), under Ryan Fogelsonger, overtakes 1-5 favorite Ashado in deep stretch to score at 7-1 in the Pimlico BC Distaff Handicap.

It was cloudy, gray, and raw at Pimlico Race Course on Friday, but the smile of jockey Ryan Fogelsonger shined through the gloaming after he rode Silmaril to an upset victory in the Grade 3, $150,000 .

"Damn right I'm fired up," Fogelsonger said. "We just beat a Breeders' Cup champion."

Silmaril, at 7-1 the longest shot in the four-horse field, wore down odds-on favorite Ashado in the final sixteenth to prevail by three-quarters of a length on a sloppy track. Ashado finished five lengths in front of third-place Friel's for Real. Pleasant Home trailed.

Silmaril ($17.20) completed 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.87. She had won 3 of her 4 prior starts at Pimlico, and was 8 for 13 overall, but she had never before won a graded stakes race. She is trained by Chris Grove, who is based at Bowie in Maryland, and owned by Stephen Quick and Christopher Feifarek.

"It was an outstanding performance. I knew she loved the slop," said Grove, referring to Silmaril's victory on a sloppy track in the Geisha Handicap here in December.

Nine were entered in the Distaff, but several opted for the Shuvee Handicap on Saturday at Belmont Park, and others took a pass because of the conditions. Ashado, who won last year's Breeders' Cup Distaff, was making her second start of the year after finishing fifth as the odds-on favorite in last month's Apple Blossom Handicap at Oaklawn Park.

Ashado, who was sent off at 1-5, was the only speed in the race, and she was able to cruise along through fractions of 24.31 seconds, 48.89, and 1:13.28 for the first six furlongs. Pleasant Home was a length behind and to her outside in second, with Silmaril along the inside in third.

Ashado began to inch away from Pleasant Home nearing the top of the stretch. At that point, Fogelsonger put Silmaril into a drive. Silmaril pushed Pleasant Home out of the way to secure room after straightening away in the lane, then set sail after Ashado.

"She was digging in with every stride. I knew I was going to get Ashado before the wire," Fogelsonger said.

John Velazquez, who rode Ashado, said his filly had a "perfect trip" but "she just couldn't handle the track."

"I thought it was much better than her race at Oaklawn," said her trainer, Todd Pletcher.