|Asmussen Eyes 8th TTA Sales Futurity
at Lone Star, But Must Beat Miss Missile
2007) - As trainer Steve Asmussen saddles Curlin in the Belmont
Park paddock before the start of Saturday's 139th Belmont Stakes,
he'll simultaneously attempt to win the fillies division of the
$93,530 Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity at Lone Star
Park in Grand Prairie, Texas for a record eighth time in the last
The 41-year-old conditioner, who has amassed a record 673 Lone
Star victories over the last decade including 54 local stakes wins,
qualified four 2-year-old fillies to Saturday's five-furlong race,
headed by unbeaten Valid Lilly.
Despite his impressive record and credentials, Asmussen won't have
the post time favorite because Miss Missile, the swift Kentucky-bred
owned and trained by Charlie Smith, is clearly the horse to beat.
She'll break from post No. 3 as the 7-5 morning line choice in the
field of 10 two-year-old fillies.
Purchased for $35,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Texas Two-Year-Olds in
Training Sale, Miss Missile has been nothing short of spectacular
in her only two starts. On April 28 in her career debut, she blitzed
her competition at odds of 19-1 by 4 ¾ lengths while running
the fastest 4 ½ furlongs in Lone Star Park history with a
time of :51.18. "I was confident she'd win first time out,
but I sure didn't imagine a track record," said Smith, the
58-year-old who has trained horses for two decades.
Miss Missile's encore was a one-length score over Maileys Cat while
clocking five furlongs over "sloppy" going in :58.61 -
the fastest of three TTA Sales Futurity trials on May 24. Ever since
the two eye-popping races, bloodstock agents have offered large
sums to purchase the filly, but Smith doesn't appear interested
"She handles her speed really well and has a nice stride,"
Smith explained. "Only time will tell, but I'm confident that
she'll be able to carry her speed down the road as the distances
get longer. With her gait and breeding (by Golden Missile out of
the Silver Deputy mare Whistling Bullet), I don't see any reason
why she won't be able to handle a distance of ground, say between
a mile and a mile-and-a-sixteenth."
Miss Missile's May 24 trial victory was awarded an 88 Beyer Speed
Figure by the folks at Daily Racing Form - the highest figure ever
given to a 2-year-old filly that raced at Lone Star Park's Spring
Thoroughbred Season. "I hope she can hang a higher one next
time," Smith said. "I'm anticipating that she'll run the
best race of her life on Saturday."
Here's the complete field for the 15th running of the $93,530 fillies
division of the TTA Sales Futurity (with jockey, trainer and morning
line odds): 4. Shedoesrock (Richard Eramia, Michelle Lovell, 20-1);
1. Soar Above (Glen Murphy, Steve Asmussen, 20-1); 5. Miss Missile
(Justin Shepherd, Charlie Smith, 7-5); 2. Valid Lilly (Luis Quinonez,
Asmussen, 7-2); 3. Maileys Cat (Ramsey Zimmerman, Bret Calhoun,
2-1); 6. Glitter's Forum (Cliff Berry, Calhoun, 6-1); 3X. Imahonkytonkgirl
(Larry Taylor, Calhoun, 2-1); 7. Stephen's Crown (Benito Morales,
Charles Haverkamp, 20-1); 2B. Swamp Gator (Quincy Hamilton, Asmussen,
7-2); and 1A. Value System (Jaime Theriot, Asmussen, 20-1).
There is a trio of coupled entries in the race. Soar Above and
Value System will run as a Will Farish-owned entry. Valid Lilly
and Swamp Gator will run as a Heiligbrodt Racing Stable-owned entry.
Mailey's Cat and Imahonkytonkgirl will be coupled because Bobby
Beck has an ownership stake in both horses. All entrants passed
through Texas sales rings earlier in their career and finished in
the top four positions in May 24 trial races. Siphon Rio and Tricky
Texan, who both qualified, were not entered in the final.
The fillies division will be run as Race 9 at approximately 5:12
p.m. CT (13 minutes before the simulcast of the Belmont Stakes)
on an 11-race program that begins at 1:35 p.m. CT.
In the $95,130 colts and geldings division, to be run as Race 10
at approximately 5:52 p.m. CT, Kinetic Motion, who hails from the
Allen Milligan barn, was made the 7-5 early favorite after his convincing
3 ¾-length debut victory in his May 25 trial. Justin Shepherd,
20, is scheduled to ride both Miss Missile and Kinetic Motion.
Here's the complete field for the 18th running of the $95,130 colts
and gelding division of the TTA Sales Futurity (with jockey, trainer
and morning line odds): 1. Righteous Brother (Luis Quinonez, Steve
Asmussen, 8-1); 2. Groomsman (Glen Murphy, Steve Asmussen, 9-5);
1A. Paldif (Cliff Berry, Steve Asmussen, 8-1); 3. Silverback Cat
(Quincy Hamilton, Danny Pish, 10-1); 4. Bill Jr. (Filemon Rodriguez,
Emilio Barrera, 30-1); 5. Stormy Date (Ramsey Zimmerman, Bret Calhoun,
6-1); 6. Piper Cat (Bryan McNeil, Bob Young, 30-1); 7. Call Transfer
(Tony McNeil, Cheryl Asmussen, 12-1); 2B. Namesake (Jaime Theriot,
Steve Asmussen, 9-5); and 8. Kinetic Motion (Justin Shepherd, Allen
There are two entries. Righteous Brother and Paldif will run as
a Heiligbrodt Racing Stable-owned entry. Will Farish has part-ownership
in both Groomsman and Namesake. Stormy Wedding and Wishinski qualified
but were not entered in the final.
DOWN THE STRETCH
FAVORITES WINNING BIG - Favorites at
Lone Star Park had won 40.4% of the races through the first eight
weeks of the 16-week season, including 44.3% over the last two weeks.
WICKED WEATHER - When jockeys opted not
to ride over the Lone Star Park turf course Sunday after early morning
rain, it brought the total number of lost turf races at the meet
to 34. As a result, late scratches have totaled 266 (an average
of 8.1 per day). At this time last year (with four additional racing
dates and 38 more races), there were 13 lost turf races and 204
scratches (an average of 5.5 per day). Thanks to a deluge of rain
this season (8.34 inches in May, up 62% from the typical 5.15 inches),
only 13 of the 33 racing dates thus far had both a "fast"
main track and "firm" turf course. Despite the rough run
with the weather, Lone Star's average field size per race is slightly
up from 8.53 in 2006 to 8.56 this season. Also, Lone Star is racing
four days a week (Thursday-Sunday) this season compared to five
days a week (Wednesday-Sunday) last year. As a result, the season
is extended a week and will conclude July 29.
WEATHER FORECAST - This week's National
Weather Service forecast looks promising. High temperatures will
be in the low 90s throughout the week with nighttime lows in the
low 70s. There's a slight 30-percent chance of thunderstorms Friday.
At Elmont, N.Y., there's a 30-percent chance of showers and thunderstorms
overnight Friday and into Saturday in advance of the Belmont Stakes.
High temps in New York will be near 81.
BERRY CLOSES GAP ON ZIMM - With leading
rider Ramsey Zimmerman on the sidelines last week serving a seven-day
suspension for his May 24 ride aboard Imahonkytonkgirl that resulted
in a disqualification, Cliff Berry closed the gap in the Lone Star
Park jockey standings. Berry, Lone Star's two-time defending riding
champ, won seven races during Week 8 of the 16-week season to pull
within one of Zimmerman, 38 wins to 37. Richard Eramia is third
with 34 winners, followed by Quincy Hamilton's 32 (the hottest Lone
Star jockey over the last two weeks with 14 victories since May
24), Luis Quinonez's 28, Justin Shepherd's 26, Glen Murphy and Larry
Taylor's 21, Eguard Tejera's 14 and Bobby Walker Jr.'s 10.
LOCKE LEADS TRAINERS LAST WEEK - John
Locke led all trainers with five winners last week (May 31-June
3) and increased his season win total to 18, good for fifth in the
Lone Star trainer standings. Leader Bret Calhoun won with four of
his seven starters to widen his lead over Cody Autrey, 35 wins to
27. Perennial local training champ Steve Asmussen is third with
22 victories, one more than Danny Pish, who is fourth. Behind Locke
are Chris Hartman and Donnie K. Von Hemel's 13, Jorge Lara's 12,
Dallas Keen's eight, and Cheryl Asmussen, Jack Bruner, Brent Davidson,
Randy Mayfield and Allen Milligan's six.
ROUGH RUN FOR AUTREY - Ever since Smoke
Mountain won the $50,000 Ford Express Stakes on May 19, trainer
Cody Autrey has had a run of unfortunate luck. The usually high-percentage
conditioner will begin Week 9 of the 16-week season with only one
winner from his last 18 starters since May 20. His lone winner in
that span came May 27 with What Attitude ($2.80) - one of 11 post
time favorites. During the streak he's had and six seconds and one
third. The losses include favorites Denim's Gone (second at 4-5
on May 20); East Texas Red (ninth at 9-5 on May 25); Front Nine
(second at 4-5 on May 26); Sweet Will and Valid Sprinter (third
and fourth as a 2-5 entry on May 26); Wild Roll (seventh at 6-5
on May 27); Thanks Mr G and Speed Source (second and third as a
4-5 entry on May 27); Wacos Cutie (second at 7-5 on June 1); and
Denim's Gone (third at 4-5 on June 2). Overall, Autrey was second
in the Lone Star trainer standing with 27 victories, seven back
of leader Bret Calhoun.
KOMAX BRINGS MUNDELL STREAK TO FOUR STRAIGHT
- After starting the meet 0-for-3, owner Brian Mundell of El Paso,
Texas has won with each of his last four starters since May 20,
all with trainer Chris Hartman. His winners were Abbey Court ($3.60)
on May 20, En El Fuego ($7) on May 24, Super Danny ($11.20) on May
26 and Komax ($4) on Saturday. Komax, a 9-year-old Arizona-bred
gelding, won his fifth consecutive start and second for Mundell,
who claimed him for $25,000 at Sunland Park on March 30. In Saturday's
eighth race, the son of Society Max ran six furlongs over a "good"
track in 1:11.17, which was good for a 90 Beyer Speed Figure. Komax
has now won 21 of his 49 starts and $472,285. He's also won seven
stakes in his career that began with an 11-length triumph in 1:09
at Colorado's Arapahoe Park on June 30, 2001. In 2002, Komax finished
third in the Grade III Los Angeles Handicap at Hollywood Park behind
champion Kona Gold. Since turning 8, he's won 11 of 15 starts and
$221,672. Mundell and Hartman are scheduled to start Sitkasam, the
9-5 favorite in Thursday night's third race.
HALTER WINS THREE RACES LAST WEEK - Kevin
Halter of DeSoto, Texas led all owners with three victories last
week, all with trainer John Locke and jockey Richard Eramia. They
teamed to win with Dream America ($3) on Thursday and Tates Mandate
($6) and Eagle Two Hundred ($4.20) on Friday. Overall, Halter has
won with four of 18 starters at the meet. Heflin and Driver Racing
LLC remain atop the standings with 21 wins, but have slowed their
record pace with one victory from their last 14 starters since May
19. They need six wins to equal the Lone Star Park single season
record of 27 set by the Kagele Brothers in the spring of 2004. Jan
Hayes of Dallas is second with seven wins, followed by four-way
tie for third between Tom Durant, Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt,
Carl Moore and Clarence Scharbauer Jr. with six wins apiece.
LIL HANNA BECOMES FIRST THREE-TIME WINNER AT THE MEET
- The 6-year-old Texas-bred mare Lil Hanna became the first three-time
winner of the meet when she prevailed in Friday's sixth race, a
state-bred $7,500 claiming event over six furlongs. She won at the
same level April 27 and against open company May 18. The daughter
of Lil Honcho, who won Friday for trainer John Locke, has been claimed
in each of those starts. She'll go back to the barn of Cody Autrey
and Helfin and Driver Racing, who won with Lil Hanna on May 18.
Twenty-seven other horses have two wins at the meet.
TEMPTING DATE HEASDS THURSDAY FEATURE
- Tempting Date, winner of the $50,000 Czaria Handicap at Sunland
Park in her last start on April 29, heads Thursday night's featured
eighth race, a $34,000 allowance at five furlongs on turf. The 5-year-old
mare, who hails from the Chris Hartman barn, also won the 2005 Cal
Cup Distaff Handicap and 2006 Bold Ego Handicap. Leading rider Ramsey
Zimmerman has the call.
ADMIRAL'S ARCH TRIES TURF - In Friday
night's featured ninth race, Admiral's Arch, who finished third
in last year's Grade III Lone Star Derby, will attempt to land his
first victory since capturing the 2006 Northern Spur Breeders' Cup
Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The 4-year-old High Yield gelding from the
Steve Asmussen barn tries turf for the first time in a second level
allowance at one mile on grass. Also on the card, Davids Expectation,
campaigned by Heflin and Driver Racing and trained by Cody Autrey,
will shoot for his fourth straight win in the eighth race, a $27,000
allowance/optional claiming event ($35,000 tag) over six furlongs.
NATIONAL HANDICAPPING CHAMPIONSHIP QUALIFYING TOURNAMENT
- The deadline to enter Lone Star Park's Daily Racing Form/NTRA
National Handicapping Championship Qualifying Tournament is Friday,
June 15. The top three finishers in the two-day tournament scheduled
for Saturday, June 16 and Sunday, June 17 will earn berths to the
NHC IX finals in Las Vegas in January. Plus, more than $10,000 in
prize money is up for grabs. The entry fee is $250 per person or
just $150 "Star Player Rewards" members. To participate,
contact Kristen Foster at (972) 237-1134 or firstname.lastname@example.org
<mailto:email@example.com>. There are already more
than 160 people signed up to compete. Last year, there were 123
entries, headed by tournament winner David Muse of Benbrook, Texas.
PARTY AT THE PARK - Live country music
by Chris Miller and drink specials highlight Friday's "Party
at the Park" in the Courtyard of Champions from 7-11 p.m. A
team from 96.3 KSCS will also be on hand for a promotional appearance.
SENIOR CITIZEN'S DAY - Sunday is Senior
Citizen's Day where all patrons age 62 and up will receive free
general admission with proof of identification.