05/05/2010 11:00PM

Asmussen due to warm up with Crider


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Those that count on their fingers like me need more than two hands to total all the training titles Steve Asmussen has won at Lone Star Park. I've got to throw a toe in the mix to account for his 11 training titles there.

Last year, in fact, he won a record 117 races at the meet - something that in all likelihood won't be touched by him or anyone else any time soon.

Roughly a month into the meet, heading into Thursday evening's card at Lone Star, Asmussen had won 7 races from 61 starts, well off his customary pace.

His luck is about to change. Saturday, Asmussen has a number of strong chances, most notably in the featured Lone Star Derby with Crider, the 2-1 second choice in the six-horse field.

A two-time winner, Crider was tested against stakes runners without success earlier this year, but looks up to the challenge this time around. Following a fourth in the Smarty Jones at Oaklawn on Jan. 18 and a fourth in the Grade 3 Southwest there Feb. 20, he ran a fine second in a first-level optional $50,000 claimer on March 27. Crider was run down in the late stages by A Student, a quality router.

Crider faces no such rival in the 1 1/16-mile Lone Star Derby. Although Henshin Hero is a good horse, he is a speedster who has never raced beyond six furlongs, and the other major player in the race, Game On Dude, is wheeled back on short rest after a lackluster performance when a distant fifth in the Derby Trial on April 24.

Henshin Hero must be respected in light of his blazing speed and the gameness he showed in running second on turf at Keeneland recently, but without any route experience, one has to question his staying ability.

With Crider already having three routes under his belt this year, he has a decided advantage.

Look for Asmussen to resume his winning ways with Crider.

Camille's Appeal looks attractive

Two races earlier on the card, Camille's Appeal looks to give Asmussen another stakes victory when she races in the $100,000 Texas Stallion Stakes for 3-year-old fillies.

Although somewhat off her game in two starts this year, Camille's Appeal returns from open company to Texas-sired competition. Additionally, the third start of a horse's form cycle often results in a peak effort.

Combined those factors with the promise she showed as a 2-year-old, and Camille's Appeal is a potentially rewarding play at 5-2 on the morning line.

Bear in mind that she twice ran Beyer Speed Figures of 84 or higher last year at 2. Only in graded stakes has this talented filly faltered.

Soaring Empire value play in Dwyer

Turning north to New York for the Grade 2 Dwyer, the choice is Soaring Empire, who won his first start of the year with aplomb before bouncing against tougher when ambitiously placed in the March 20 Florida Derby.

Given time to recuperate and develop, Soaring Empire looks to rebound against what looks like a weak field of 3-year-olds.

Drosselmeyer, the 2-1 morning-line favorite, will be the public choice almost by default, and many of the others look questionable at 1 1/8 miles.

Not Soaring Empire, a son of Belmont winner Empire Maker who looks poised to win the Dwyer at a price.

He is a skilled one-turn performer who beat the talented Allez Reef in his first start at age 3, and was third in the Grade 3 Iroquois as a 2-year-old.

Soaring Empire has the talent, pedigree, and upside to warrant a wager.