Ashado won Saturday's Grade 1, $750,000 Beldame with the
kind of style her fans have come to expect from the 4-year-old Saint
Ballado filly. The defending Eclipse champion filly is now the likely favorite to win the Breeders' Cup Distaff at nine furlongs on October 29th, and trainer Todd Pletcher would like nothing more than to
see her racing career end on the right note. "You have to say now that she's one of the top mares, maybe of all time," said Pletcher, after Ashado's 2-length victory in
the Beldame pushed her
earnings to $3,711,440. "This puts her earnings very high on the
(all-time) list. I think it puts her in position if she finishes first
or second in the Breeders' Cup (Distaff) she can break the record. When
you get one this good and they've had such a good career, you want to
see them finish up on a winning note. It's very satisfying for our
organization. This was a loaded race. Six grade I winners, Happy Ticket been beaten
only once coming in, Society Selection and the unbeaten 3-year-old
(Sweet Symphony). She beat everyone she you could beat today. This was
clearly the marquee prep of the Fall. This was a big win. We want to
defend our title in the Breeders' Cup, but the earnings title would be a bonus."
Results Chart from DRF
Ashado, rebounding from a dismal fourth-place finish in Saratoga's Personal Ensign, pressed Dream of Summer through a pace 24.50, 47.64, and 1:11.48 before taking a clear lead and holding off Happy Ticket for the win in 1:48.88 on the fast track. "When you have a filly that's this consistent for so long, obviously when they run a sub-par race you look for a reason why," Pletcher said. "Once we identified the reason, we felt good about it. As long as she trained well, we were ready to go." Ashado now has four weeks to ready for the Distaff, and she has now won four of six starts here at Belmont Park.
"We went into the last race and we thought she was doing well," said Ashado's jockey John Velazquez. "She just wasn't herself. Today in the paddock, she was beautiful, on her toes, but not sweaty. She was very good in the post parade. Here comes the other one (Happy Ticket), and I think I moved a little too soon. She had a so-so race last time, so she might have gotten a little bit late down the lane. I don't think she got a lot out of her last race. She going back to the Breeders' Cup. She'll be tough."
Happy Ticket, the Louisiana-bred who won the Ballerina (G1) on August 28th, was second by two and a half lengths over Society Selection. "She never runs a bad race," said trainer Andrew Leggio Jr. "It was never a concern that she could get the mile and an eighth. I knew she could do that. My concern was the class. She had never run against this caliber of fillies and mares. This was the best she had ever run against. She proved herself here, and she is going to stay in New York for the Breeders' Cup Distaff."
Sweet Symphony was fourth and likely ruined any plans for a Breeders' Cup appearance. Personal Legend, Dream of Summer and Island Sand trailed.