Asmussen aims for Preakness weekend bonus with stakes stars

Maryland Jockey Club
May 14, 2019 04:42pm

The Maryland Jockey Club for the third straight year is offering $100,000 in points-based bonus money to the trainers who run at least five horses in stakes over Preakness weekend. The winner of the $50,000 top prize the past two years was Steve Asmussen, who won four stakes in 2018 while accruing 82 points and two in 2017 while racking up 38 points.

The Hall of Fame trainer says his entourage won’t be as strong this year because some horses that otherwise would have come to Pimlico instead ran back at Oaklawn Park during the Arkansas track’s extended meet that only ended Kentucky Derby Day, May 4.

Still, even a diminished Asmussen arsenal could get the job done as he plans to run eight horses in eight stakes, including Oaklawn Invitational winner Laughing Fox in the Preakness Stakes in a two-week turnaround.

“In the past, we’ve been very happy with how horses who ran at Oaklawn run at Pimlico,” Asmussen said. “So I feel good about that. It’s different this year, though, because the Racing Festival of the South and Preakness weekend were five weeks apart. With the extended meet at Oaklawn, we don’t have as many to take. But I feel good about the horses we have going.”

Among the others are Tenfold, who in his fourth career start last year finished third by only a total of three-quarters of a length to Triple Crown winner Justify in the Preakness. Tenfold went on to win Saratoga’s Jim Dandy (G2) before his 3-year-old season ended with a well-beaten seventh in the Travers Stakes (G1). Off a six-month layoff, Tenfold was a close fourth in a Fair Grounds allowance race before finishing a disappointing seventh in the slop in the Oaklawn Handicap (G2).

Now the son of the Asmussen-trained 2007 Preakness winner and two-time Horse of the Year Curlin seeks to get back in the winner’s circle in Friday’s $300,000 Pimlico Special (G3) at the new distance of 1 1/4 miles.

“I like how he’s doing,” Asmussen said. “He is a horse who was third last year in the Preakness, and I expect the real Tenfold to show up Friday. The extreme weather Oaklawn had for the Oaklawn Handicap, I don’t think that was a true race for him. I know he’s capable of better, and he’s training really nicely.”

Also on Friday, Asmussen will send out the stakes-placed 4-year-old filly Estilo Femenino in the $100,000 Fidelity First & Blackwell Real Estate Skipat and Awe Emma, a $2 million weanling purchase who after three big victories was fifth in the La Troienne (G1) won by her stablemate She’s a Julie, in the $150,000 Caplan Brothers Glass Allaire duPont Distaff (G3).

A potential star could be showcased on Saturday’s undercard with Pyron in the $200,000 Chick Lang (G3) for 3-year-old sprinters — the race that last year helped launch the Asmussen runner Mitole to stardom.

“He’s two-for-two and deserves this opportunity,” Asmussen said of Pyron. “He’s kind of a laid-back horse for somebody who is two-for-two and has run as fast as he has. I’m anxious to see how he steps up against this competition.”

The barn also is running War Film in the $100,000 James W. Murphy for 3-year-olds at a mile on turf; the stakes-placed New York Central, making his third start after almost 10 months off in the $150,000 ClearSpan Maryland Sprint (G3); and Tone Broke in the $100,000 Sir Barton as he returns to America after an unsuccessful foray to Dubai.

The 1 1/16-mile Sir Barton, for 3-year-olds who have not won a non-restricted stakes, is sponsored by The Earle I. Mack Foundation to benefit the Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance & Man o’ War Project.


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