04/16/2003 11:00PM

Asmussen covers all bases

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GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Steve Asmussen is taking a two-pronged approach to the $50,000 Wafare Farm Stakes at Lone Star Park on Saturday. He will start a front-runner, Eternal Cup, and a closer, Hannah's Royalrock.

The two are not coupled, and will face eight other 3-year-old fillies in the six-furlong race, including stakes winners Tulupai, Impetuous Molly, Scottish Heritage, Letithappencaptain, and Itsmybag.

Asmussen nominated five fillies to the Wafare, and because of their running styles, he decided to enter Eternal Cup and Hannah's Royalrock.

"They complement each other, as opposed to entering two who would be detrimental to each other," said Asmussen.

Eternal Cup turned heads opening night at Lone Star when she won an entry-level allowance by 9 1/4 lengths. She set fractions of 21.55 seconds for the opening quarter and 44.90 for the half-mile before covering the 5 1/2 furlongs in quick 1:03.79.

"She's fast," said Asmussen. "She's a filly who has a lot of talent, not a lot of seasoning."

Eternal Cup has made just five career starts, but has won twice and finished second twice, including a runner-up finish to Perfect Story in an entry-level allowance at Gulfstream Jan. 5. Eternal Cup, who will break from the rail, is a half-sister to Regiment, a stakes winner of $288,940.

Hannah's Royalrock will break from post 2 for her first start since Feb. 17, when she raced closer to the pace than usual and finished second in the $50,000 Martha Washington at six furlongs at Oaklawn.

"She had a little break," said Asmussen, noting he had no intention of stretching her out for the filly series at Oaklawn. "This race suits her."

Hannah's Royalrock is a two-time stakes winner, with her most recent score coming in the $50,000 Bara Lass at Sam Houston on Nov. 16. In that race, she rallied from off the pace for a 2 1/4-length win over Lady Mallory, who went on to win a stakes.

Tulupai, who is a three-time stakes winner, was given a break from racing after her fourth-place finish in the $250,000 Delta Princess at Delta Downs on Dec. 20.

That race was Tulupai's first start around two turns, and on Saturday she gets back to perhaps her best distance, with two of her stakes wins having come at the six-furlong trip of the Wafare.