06/25/2004 11:00PM

Stellar Jayne outduels Ashado

Stellar Jayne, under Robby Albarado, draws off to win the Mother Goose. It's the sixth time trainer D. Wayne Lukas has won the Grade 1 race.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Even as good as his filly, Stellar Jayne, was traveling in Saturday's Grade 1 , Robby Albarado looked over at who was alongside him around the far turn at Belmont Park and saw the imposing figures of Ashado and John Velazquez.

"At that point I'm figuring she's just going to blow my doors away at any time,'' Albarado said. "When Johnny squeezed her and he didn't get by me that instilled a little bit of confidence in her and in me."

From the quarter pole to the wire, Stellar Jayne, the longest price in the six-horse field, gradually pulled away from Ashado, the 4-5 favorite, en route to a 2 1/2-length victory in the $300,000 Mother Goose before 6,717 at Belmont Park.

It was 1 3/4 lengths back to Acorn winner Island Sand in third. Miss Coronado, Daydreaming, and Society Selection completed the order of finish.

It was the sixth victory in this race for trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Three of those previous winners won Eclipse Awards as the nation's top 3-year-old filly.

Stellar Jayne had lost her first six races this year, including a 10-length defeat to Ashado in the Kentucky Oaks. Stellar Jayne rebounded to win the Grade 3 Dogwood Breeders' Cup at Churchill on June 5, but against a much lesser group of horses.

In a Mother Goose void of speed, Ashado found herself the pacemaker, carving out fractions of 23.83 and 47 seconds while being pressed by Society Selection from the outside and Stellar Jayne on the inside.

Stellar Jayne and Ashado raced heads apart from the half-mile pole to the stretch before Stellar Jayne pulled away. Stellar Jayne, a daughter of Wild Rush owned by Spendthrift Farm, Nancy Cole, Charles Kidder, and Nick Strong, covered the 1 1/8 miles in 1:48.13 over a fast track. She returned $61.50 to win.

"Wayne always had a lot of confidence in this filly; she went into the last race doing fantastic and Wayne said she came out of it doing fantastic," said Peter Hutton, the assistant to Lukas. "You don't come in thinking you're going to beat Ashado, but as well as she was doing you have to have a shot.''

Velazquez said he felt that Ashado ran her usual race in her first start in eight weeks. Trainer Todd Pletcher said he thought he had her tight enough, "but at the sixteenth pole she came up a little bit empty.''

Terry Thompson, the rider of Island Sand, told trainer Larry Jones that his filly made a noise, leading Jones to conclude she either entrapped her epiglottis or displaced her palate.

Stellar Jayne and Ashado are expected to meet again in the Coaching Club American Oaks on July 24.