06/06/2002 12:00AM

Thistledown: Top Ohio-breds clash


NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - The top two Ohio-bred females, Ashwood CC, owned by Ashwood Thoroughbreds Inc., and Lady Cherie, owned by M. Y. Stables Inc., head a field of eight fillies and mares in Saturday's $50,000 Merry Time Stakes.

Both horses are multiple stakes winners and are well suited by the 1 1/16-mile distance of this race.

Ashwood CC traveled to Mountaineer Park for her last start and finished third in a stiff mile allowance race. Before that she won a six-furlong allowance here and was fourth in the six-furlong Angenora Stakes. She has the tactical speed to be on or near the lead and will be hard to catch. Scott Saito will ride for trainer Rodrigo Madrigal Sr.

Ashwood CC is co-highweighted with Lady Cherie at 122 pounds.

Lady Cherie had a rough trip in her seasonal debut but still managed a 6 1/4-length win in the six-furlong Brent's Princess Stakes here May 25. Her running style is much the same as Ashwood C C's and they may hook up in a battle for the lead. Julio Felix will handle the riding for trainer Michael W. Nance.

Of the others, Runaway Rose and Honey Bee Mine would appear to have the best chance of winning.