Denholtz Stable’s Dances With
Ashley, a stakes winner last year, looks well-spotted to resume her winning
ways in Saturday’s $65,000 Fort Monmouth Stakes, a five and a half-furlong turf
sprint that drew an overflow field of 11 fillies and mares.
In her only start this year,
the 4-year-old daughter of Wildcat Heir finished fifth in Calder’s Hollywood
Wildcat Handicap at seven and a half furlongs on the turf on April 25. That was
her first race for new trainer Eddie Plesa Jr.
“I thought she ran well off a
long layoff (six months) and at not an ideal distance for her,” Plesa said. “The
plan was always to bring her to Monmouth. She’s been working well since she got
here, and this is a better distance for her.”
Dances With Ashley broke her
maiden as a 2-year-old going five furlongs on the grass at Calder, and the
Hollywood Wildcat was her second try on turf.
As a 3-year-old trained by
Marty Wolfson, the filly won stakes at the Ocala Training Center and Tampa Bay
Downs, both sprints, and ran in the Grade 1 Acorn Stakes at Belmont. She lost
all chance that day when she broke in the air, and rushed up on the rail only
to tire and finish 11th.
After the Acorn, she came to
Monmouth with trainer Bruce Levine and was never close in her two stakes starts
on the main track here, finishing sixth in the Dearly Precious and seventh in
the Princeton on Oct. 2. She was out from that time until she made her debut
for Plesa in the Calder race in April.
Elvis Trujillo, who won the
Sophomore Fillies Stakes at Tampa last year and rode in the Calder race, is
back aboard Saturday.
Trainer Jane Cibelli will
saddle the 6-year-old Cherry On the Top in the Fort Monmouth. The Double Honor
mare will be making her stakes debut in the turf sprint.
“She’s fast, and she’s an
improving horse,” Cibelli said. “The biggest question mark is five and a half
furlongs. Five-eighths is her game.”
Cherry On the Top scored
back-to-back wins in claiming company during the winter in Florida,
front-running her way to win for a $25,000 tag at Tampa Bay, and then going
wire-to-wire in a $32,000 claimer at Gulfstream.
“She doesn’t necessarily need
the lead,” Cibelli said. “If she inherits the lead, so be it. But she can sit
off the pace if she needs to.”