07/03/2007 11:00PM

Asmussen has five for stakes


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - If he hasn't already broken the record by then, trainer Steve Asmussen figures to be taking an edge Saturday when a pair of Grade 3 stakes for 2-year-olds are run at Churchill Downs.

Asmussen, who is closing in on the Churchill mark for most winners at a spring meet, has the favorites and multiple entries in both the $150,000 Bashford Manor Stakes and the $100,000 Debutante Stakes here Saturday.

Eight colts and geldings were entered Wednesday for the Bashford Manor, while eight fillies were entered for the Debutante. Asmussen will be represented by Hargill, Kodiak Kowboy, and Crackalackin in the Bashford Manor, and by Wonderful Luck and Rated Fiesty in the Debutante.

Three of the five Asmussen runners already have won stakes: Kodiak Kowboy took the Victoria at Woodbine last month, while Wonderful Luck shipped to California to win the May 27 Cinderella at Hollywood Park, and Rated Fiesty handily defeated males in the Kentucky Breeders' Cup during Kentucky Derby week at Churchill.

The Debutante is carded as the seventh and the Bashford Manor is the ninth on a 10-race Saturday card. Both races are at six furlongs.

Asmussen failed to win with any of his five starters Wednesday at Churchill, keeping him at 40 wins for the meet. Dale Romans set the Churchill record last spring when sending out 43 winners.

Asmussen was scheduled to have starters in five races Thursday, two on Friday, and seven on Saturday. Entries for Sunday, closing day, were to be drawn Thursday.

Tiz Wonderful targets Jim Dandy

Tiz Wonderful, trained by Asmussen, continues to train forwardly toward a return to action. The unbeaten colt had another workout Tuesday when breezing an easy six furlongs in 1:18.80 over a fast surface. It was the fifth workout in the last 30 days for Tiz Wonderful, a 3-year-old Tiznow colt who won all three starts last year, capped by the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes.

Asmussen has said the July 29 Jim Dandy at Saratoga is the hoped-for comeback spot for Tiz Wonderful, who was eliminated from Triple Crown consideration in January when incurring a minor tendon injury. The Jim Dandy is the probable next start for Kentucky Derby winner Street Sense. Meanwhile, Asmussen has the most accomplished 3-year-old colt in his barn, Curlin, pointing to the Aug. 5 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

Albarado, Borel take the mound

When it comes to riding racehorses, Robby Albarado and Calvin Borel are a close match. But when the jockeys were honored Tuesday night by throwing out ceremonial first pitches at a professional baseball game, Albarado clearly had an edge.

Pitching off the mound at Louisville Slugger Stadium before the start of an International League (Class AAA) game between the Louisville Bats and Indianapolis Indians, Albarado fired a strike, after which Borel's pitch came up a few feet short of home plate.

Before hurling, both jockeys were given glowing introductions on the public-address system, with Albarado being lauded for his Preakness win aboard Curlin and Borel for his Derby triumph aboard Street Sense. After their pitches, both waved and smiled broadly when roundly applauded by a crowd of 13,131.

Drilling for Oil injures ankle

Drilling for Oil, winner of the Louisville Handicap in his last start, did not ship to Chicago for the Stars and Stripes Handicap on Wednesday after slightly wrenching an ankle at Keeneland, trainer Ken McPeek said.

"He was supposed to breeze Saturday, but he came up with that little problem, so we're going to give him about 60 days before re-evaluating him," McPeek said. "He'll probably be back racing in the fall."

Drilling for Oil, a 4-year-old colt by Giant's Causeway, is owned by Bruce Lunsford and Lansdon Robbins.

Lemons Forever set for Locust Grove

The $150,000 Locust Grove helps to close out the meet Sunday. Among the filly-mare turfers expected for the 1 1/8-mile race are Lemons Forever, the 2006 Kentucky Oaks winner who recently broke an eight-race losing streak with an allowance win on the Churchill turf.

Leparoux locks up jockey title

Five days still remained at the spring meet when action began Wednesday, and with a 10-win lead, Julien Leparoux has clinched the riding title. Leparoux's closest pursuer atop the jockey standings, Rafael Bejarano, was scheduled to ride here only one day this week (Thursday) because of riding obligations elsewhere.

Mena wins two after spill

Jockey Miguel Mena walked off under his own power after being thrown over the inner rail near the eighth pole during the first race Wednesday. Mena's mount, Lil Mai Tai, ducked in suddenly when racing in second place, crashing against the rail. No other horses or jockeys were affected.

Mena came right back to win the second and third races aboard favorites Thruforthenight ($4.60) and Super Suz ($5.40).

* The late pick four every day at Ellis Park sports a takeout of just 4 percent and is available in 50-cent denominations. The late pick four is on the last four races of the day at the Henderson, Ky., track.