Steve Asmussen, who is wintering for the second consecutive year at
Santa Anita with 40 horses, is anxiously awaiting opening day. America’s
leading trainer by races won, Asmussen oversees a national stable that
wins races by the thousands. For instance, on Dec. 6, 2009, he set a
single-season mark of 623 wins, breaking his record of 622 set the
The 46-year-old native of South Dakota became one of only five
trainers to win 6,000 races in his career when Basalt won the first race
at Remington Park on Nov. 18.
Next Monday, when Santa Anita begins its 75th anniversary meet,
Asmussen plans to have not one, not two, but three starters in the day’s
marquee race, the Grade I, $300,000 Malibu Stakes for 3-year-olds at
seven furlongs. They are: Light Up the Score, Rothko and Wine Police.
Wine Police worked five furlongs on Santa Anita’s fast main track
Monday in 1:01.40, while Rothko worked five furlongs Sunday in 59.80.
Rothko’s recent record is the most impressive of three. The bay
colt by Arch owned and bred by Padua Stables has won his last three
races by a combined margin of 15 lengths, all on dirt surfaces: at
Saratoga, Monmouth Park and Churchill Downs.
“Rothko is a nice horse,” Asmussen said Tuesday morning from
Santa Anita’s grandstand apron. “He’s got a big future. He’s worked
really well here.”
Like Rothko, Light Up the Score will be making his stakes debut
in the Malibu. The homebred son of Even the Score owned by Millenium
Farms broke his maiden in the slop at Churchill Downs on Nov. 3, then
came back to win on a fast track under the Twin Spires by nearly three
Wine Police was second in the Jimmy V at Churchill on Nov. 4. The
son of Speightstown owned by Judy and Kirk Robison was third in the
Grade I Hopeful as a 2-year-old and second in the Grade II Amsterdam at
Saratoga last Aug. 1.
Probable for the Malibu, one of four stakes on opening day:
Associate, no rider; Casper’s Touch, Joel Rosario; Centralinteligence,
David Flores; Hoorayforhollywood, Garrett Gomez; Light Up the Score, no
rider; Luckarack, no rider; Racing Aptitude, no rider; Rothko, Corey
Nakatani; Smash, Rafael Bejarano; The Factor, Martin Garcia; and Wine
Police, Joe Talamo.
Malibu nominee Indian Winter will pass the race for an allowance
race down the road, according to Jerry Hollendorfer assistant Dan Ward.
“We’ll stretch him out after that,” Ward said of the San Pedro Stakes
Associate, winner of his two starts by a combined margin of nearly 19 lengths since being claimed for $35,000 by Richard Dutrow Jr., has bedded down at Santa Anita with trainer Doug O’Neill at Barn 88.