07/29/2009 11:00PM

Asmussen colt worthy of respect at Finger


As a handicapper, what do you do with a horse who hasn't raced since getting beat more than 46 lengths last December, and now switches from a route to a sprint?

In most cases, it might be safe to quickly eliminate such a horse as a contender, especially in a stakes.

But since Trinity Magic comes from the perennial powerhouse stable of Steve Asmussen, the 3-year-old colt can't simply be tossed in Saturday's $50,000 Ontario County Stakes at Finger Lakes.

Trinity Magic, who began his career by winning three in a row, including a pair of restricted stakes at Belmont Park, returns to the New York-bred ranks for his comeback in the six-furlong Ontario County.

Asmussen's record with long layoff types returning in an ungraded sprint stakes is just 2 for 20, according to DRF's Formulator. But one of those victories came on June 20, when he sent out Juliet's Spirit off a 217-day layoff to win the $100,000 Lady Charles Town.

The best form in the field of just five 3-year-olds for the Ontario County belongs to an uncoupled pair of Smoking Hero and Early Response from the barn of Finger Lakes's leading trainer, Chris Englehart. Both horses were supplemented to the stakes at a cost of $1,000.

Englehart, who is nearly 30 wins ahead of his closest competitor in the trainer standings, has been white hot recently, winning with 11 of his last 25 starters at the meet.

Smokin Hero comes back less than two weeks after easily beating second-level optional claiming foes at Belmont Park while making his first start since February.

Early Response has the advantage of having a good race over the local track. He crushed second-level open allowance foes by more than eight lengths two weeks ago.

The lightly raced Marsh Dawg, 2 for 2 in a pair of slowly run races, and That's Rich, whose best performance in four stakes was a third in the seven-furlong Mike Lee, complete the field.