06/16/2002 11:00PM

Asmussen bringing his best stock this time

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ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - He's coming, he's coming already.

Steve Asmussen started his first horse of this meet Saturday, and those vacant stalls in Asmussen's Arlington barn should be filled this week. Nearly empty 10 days ago, his stable was up to 26 over the weekend, and at its peak, his Chicago string will number 46.

Asmussen just hopes they're more successful than the horses he had here last year.

Asmussen's 2001 Arlington meet was uncharacteristically fallow. He ran a lot of horses, which is typical, but he didn't win a lot of races, which is not. Asmussen placed 11th in the trainer standings with 16 wins. When he's hot, Asmussen can run up that many in two weeks. Through June 14, he ranked second in the country with 162 wins, seven behind trainer Scott Lake, and his starters have earned $4.5 million, third best nationally.

When Asmussen won the Fair Grounds training title this winter, he said several times he felt like he should be winning twice as many races. The man is not easily satisfied. His showing here last year was frustrating, and he'll make changes and almost certainly win more races.

Many of his Chicago horses will come from his Kentucky string. Last year, horses that had been racing at Lone Star made up the bulk of his local stable.

"Those horses were ineffective," Asmussen said. "Horses that were speed-oriented at Lone Star didn't do well up there."

Asmussen, who will have horses in Texas, Kentucky, Chicago, and New York at various times this summer, has won nine races at Churchill, two of them stakes.

And after running hard at Fair Grounds and Sam Houston this winter, the spring is something of a transition period for his stable.

"It's a time for sorting out," Asmussen said. "We're trying to find out who these 2-year-olds are by fall."

Trujillo still rolling

Elvis Trujillo's hot start is proving to be something more than fleeting glory. An apprentice rider from Mexico who launched his United States career late last year in Southern California, Trujillo popped into Chicago - somewhat unexpectedly - on Arlington's opening day, June 5. Two days later, he rode two winners in two mounts.

Trujillo has not faded away. He's still not riding that many horses, but when he rides, he wins. Through Sunday, Trujillo had won eight races with 21 starters, placing him in the top five in the rider standings. Friday, he won three straight races, one with the longshot Artic Champ, two with favorites.

Friday was the day Trujillo had been scheduled to lose his five-pound apprentice allowance, but he was granted a 27-day extension and now is set to lose his bug on July 8. Stewards here agreed to extend his apprenticeship because of injury time in California and a period in Mexico when he did not ride because of his emigration status.

Plans for Lone Star Sky

Lone Star Sky, a highly impressive winner of a 2-year-old maiden race here Thursday, will be considered for the Bashford Manor Stakes on closing day at Churchill.

Making his career debut, Lone Star Sky overcame an outside post and a wide trip to win by 2 1/4 lengths. His time of 52.08 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs was very fast, and he ran his final sixteenth-mile in less than six seconds.

"He was exciting, no question about it," said Tom Amoss, who trains Lone Star Sky for owner Walter New.