06/23/2004 11:00PM

Which filly is No. 1?

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Ashado rumbles home in the Kentucky Oaks, beating Island Sand over a muddy track.

ELMONT, N.Y. - Larry Jones, Island Sand's trainer, said that his filly could win 10 races but that until she beats Ashado, the leader of the 3-year-old filly division, it won't hold much weight.

Island Sand, who was beaten by Ashado in the Kentucky Oaks at Churchill Downs on April 30, gets another crack at the divisional leader in Saturday's Grade 1, $300,000 at Belmont Park.

Since Ashado and Island Sand last met, Island Sand won the Grade 1 Acorn at Belmont on June 4. Ashado, trained by Todd Pletcher, hasn't run since winning the Oaks in the mud by 1 1/4 lengths over Island Sand, who got off to a bad start.

Ashado is the likely favorite in the 1 1/8-mile Mother Goose, which also includes Grade 1 winner Society Selection, graded stakes winners Stellar Jayne and Miss Coronado, and Daydreaming. All runners carry 121 pounds.

"We have to meet [Ashado] here," Jones said on Thursday at Belmont. "Some say, 'You got the advantage' because Ashado hasn't run in eight or nine weeks. But I know that [Pletcher] isn't going to run a short horse at you."

After winning the Acorn over runner-up Society Selection, Island Sand returned to her home base, Ellis Park. Jones said Ellis's deep surface is perfect for keeping a horse "legged up."

Jones also feels good about Island Sand having a race at Belmont.

"That means a lot to me; it may not mean anything to [Island Sand]," said Jones, who trains Island Sand for owner Jim Osborne.

Terry Thompson rides Island Sand from post 3.

Pletcher was considering the Acorn for Ashado, but wasn't dead-set on running. When Ashado came down with a fever a couple of weeks before the race, the decision was made.

"If everything was perfect, it was something to point for," Pletcher said. "She has been training great. The field [Saturday] is smaller than the Oaks, but the quality is as good. Island Sand is a very good filly and ran great in the Acorn."

John Velazquez rides Ashado, who could find herself on the lead in what looks like a paceless race on paper. She drew post 4.

Society Selection won the Grade 1 Frizette at Belmont last October. In the Acorn, she was closing strongly and was beaten 1 3/4 lengths by Island Sand.

Allen Jerkens, Society Selection's trainer, said his filly might have gotten a little tired in the one-mile Acorn, her first race since winning the Grade 3 Comely eight weeks earlier.

Jerkens, who won the 1993 Mother Goose with Sky Beauty, said a one-turn 1 1/8-mile race is often ridden differently than a race run at the same distance around two turns.

"It's much more of a jockey's race," Jerkens said. "They go slow down the backstretch, and then they all go like hell."

Edgar Prado rides Society Selection.

Trainer Shug McGaughey believes the trip will suit Daydreaming, who won a second-level allowance race by nine lengths at Belmont at 1 1/16-miles on May 6. Last year, Daydreaming finished behind Ashado in the Spinaway and Frizette. "She went to her nose out of the gate in the Spinaway and had some trouble with a back ankle after the Frizette," McGaughey said. "With all that behind her, I think we can go forward."

Jerry Bailey, aboard the last two winners of the Mother Goose, rides Daydreaming.

Wayne Lukas, who has won the Mother Goose four times, will saddle Stellar Jayne, the winner of the Grade 3 Dogwood Breeders' Cup at Churchill on June 5. A longshot in the Kentucky Oaks, Stellar Jayne finished seventh.

Bobby Frankel, who won this race last year with Spoken Fur, will saddle Miss Coronado, who has lost two starts since winning the Grade 2 Davona Dale over Society Selection in February at Gulfstream. Miss Coronado has been battling a popped splint, but Frankel said the filly looked good following a half-mile work on Wednesday.

The Mother Goose is the first leg of New York's triple crown for 3-year-old fillies, followed by the Grade 1, $500,000 Coaching Club American Oaks at Belmont on July 24 and the Grade 1, $750,000 Alabama at Saratoga on Aug. 21.