10/23/2009 12:00AM

Asmussen back where it began


Man Chester Man will be Cash Asmussen's first New Mexico starter when the horse invades from Texas for the $60,000 Governor's Cup at Zia Park on Sunday, but the trainer will hardly be charting foreign territory.

"I'm not going out of town, I'm going home," Asmussen said.

It was at Sunland Park in New Mexico in 1978 that a 16-year-old Asmussen won his first race as a jockey. He would go on to win an Eclipse Award as an apprentice and win multiple riding championships in France.

Asmussen, who has since retired, began training in the last year. Man Chester Man has been one of his barn's standouts, with four stakes wins in 2009. He will start as a top contender in the Governor's Cup, a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds that also drew stakes winners Big Texas Daddy, Train Rider Blues, and Explosive Mine.

Man Chester Man has gone 5 for 7 and is owned by Cindy Nottingham and Charles Redfern. Among his wins was the $75,000 Lafayette at Evangeline Downs on Sept. 7. Man Chester Man has raced once since then, winning an off-the-turf allowance at a mile at Retama Park on Oct. 3.

"We were thinking about running him in the El Joven and put him in the prep going long, but it was rained off the grass so we went in a different direction," Asmsusen said of the decision to stay on dirt in the Governor's Cup. "He's on top of his game, and he travels well."

Man Chester Man won the $50,000 Manor Downs Thoroughbred Futurity in April, then captured two small stakes at Anthony Downs in his native Kansas in July before winning the Lafayette.

Tony McNeil has the mount on Man Chester Man, who is a son of the Meadowlake stallion Grand On Dave.

Banner Cat will get good support even though he is making his stakes debut in the Governor's Cup. He enters the race off a seven-length maiden special weight win at Remington Park, earning a Beyer Figure of 90. The number is the best career Beyer in the field Sunday.