07/14/2004 11:00PM

Won't be easy for Ashwood

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NORTH RANDALL, Ohio - Ashwood C C, the Ohio-bred champion handicap mare of 2003, will attempt to win the Rose DeBartolo Memorial Stakes for the third consecutive year on Saturday afternoon, when she faces five other fillies and mares. The 1 1/8-mile DeBartolo has a purse of $75,000.

In her last start, Ashwood C C finished fourth as the odds-on favorite, beaten 3 1/2 lengths in the 1 1/16-mile Merry Time Stakes on June 19. All three of the horses that finished in front of her are entered back in the DeBartolo.

Ashwood C C had an excuse that day. In an uncharacteristic move, her trainer, Rodrigo Madrigal Sr., was running her back with only four days' rest after she finished third in the Golden Sylvia Handicap at Mountaineer Park. Ashwood C C can be expected to give a much better account of herself Saturday.

Ashwood C C is owned by Ashwood Thoroughbreds Inc. and will be ridden by her regular jockey, Luis Gonzalez.

Golden Tour displayed a great deal of grit when she won the Merry Time by a head over Oh So Easy. A 4-year-old Lac Ouimet filly, Golden Tour led every step of the way under Tommy Meyers, who will ride again Saturday. Golden Tour, who is owned and trained by John Bourke, has won five of her nine career starts, including three stakes.

Oh So Easy and Whitewater Way, the third-place finisher in the Merry Time, were both steadily gaining ground late, and both should be strong factors with the extra ground of this race.

All starters in the DeBartolo will carry 122 pounds.