10/22/2003 11:00PM

Academic Angel looks solid

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Horseplayers should not read much into the fact that trainer Steve Asmussen will not be on hand to saddle probable favorite Academic Angel in the $35,000 Jiffy Lube at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night.

Asmussen is at Santa Anita, where he is to have three starters in the Breeders' Cup.

In the Jiffy Lube, a 1 1/16-mile turf race for fillies and mares that is the first stakes of the Sam Houston meet, Academic Angel will meet a competitive group. Among her chief rivals are Strawbailey, winner of the $35,000 Ricks Memorial at Remington Park, and Very Geri, a winner over the Houston track.

But Academic Angel is the horse to beat. Over the summer she developed into one of the region's top turf mares, wiring the field in the $75,000 River Cites at Louisiana Downs in her last start Sept. 6. She will be ridden by Jeremy Beasley.