06/16/2004 11:00PM

Thistledown: Ashwood C C is the key

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NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Trainer Rod Madrigal Sr. entered Ohio-bred champion mare Ashwood C C in the $45,000 Merry Time Stakes only 12 hours after she finished third in the Golden Sylvia Handicap at Mountaineer Park on Tuesday night.

Madrigal has trained Ashwood C C throughout her career. In 43 races she has a 17-13-5 record for earnings of $547,463.

If Madrigal does indeed run Ashwood C C, she will undoubtedly leave the gate as the odds-on choice over eight Ohio-bred rivals. Her regular rider, Luis Gonzalez, has the mount at 122 pounds.

If Ashwood C C doesn't start, the role of favorite belongs to the W. John Bourke-owned and -trained Golden Tour, a two-time stakes winner last year going a middle distance. She prepped for this race with a 2 1/2-length win at six furlongs in allowance company. Golden Tour will carry 122 pounds and have regular rider Tommy Meyers aboard.

Honorlee chased Ashwood C C all the way in a 1 1/16-mile allowance race in her last start here on May 29 and finished a clear second. A repeat of that effort might yield a similar result. She is trained by Donn Rowe and will be ridden by Jeffrey Skerrett at 114 pounds.