08/20/2008 11:00PM

Asmussen holding two aces


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The Steve Asmussen barn, which has won a pair of 2-year-old filly stakes at Woodbine with Juliet's Spirit, will be looking to get its 2-year-old colts on the stakes scoreboard here in Saturday's Silver Deputy.

The Silver Deputy, a 6 1/2-furlong overnight stakes, attracted a field of six, including the uncoupled entry of Dryden and War Lap from Asmussen's local string.

Dryden, a Florida-bred who is the 8-5 favorite on the track's morning line, debuted here June 22 with a victory at five furlongs. The runner-up, Bucephalus, won the Clarendon Stakes in his next outing.

In his only subsequent appearance, which came in the six-furlong Colin here July 19, Dryden finished second behind the unbeaten Southern Exchange, who is headed for the Del Mar Futurity.

Jim McAleney, the Asmussen outfit's go-to rider here, retains the mount on Dryden.

War Lap, a Kentucky-bred, ended third in his first two starts at Churchill Downs before moving here and winning his maiden over 6 1/2 furlongs of turf on Aug. 2.

Emma-Jayne Wilson replaces McAleney on War Lap.

Oconee, trained by Mark Casse, is a serious threat to upset the Asmussen applecart.

After finishing eighth in his debut at Churchill Downs, Oconee added blinkers for his local debut and was a solid front-running winner at six furlongs.

"When he ran him the first time at Churchill he was a little disappointing," said Casse. "He made kind of a middle move and then flattened out.

"But when he came up here he was training really well and won pretty easily in his last start. I think he has the potential to be any kind."

Patrick Husbands, who partnered Oconee for the first time in that July 20 race, retains the mount.

Mine That Bird, Encroachment, and Tashi, all of whom won their last start here, complete the field.

Starticus ships for Arlington Sprint

Starticus, the up-and-coming turf sprinter based here with trainer Ralph Biamonte, will be making his stakes debut in the $200,000 Arlington Sprint Handicap on Saturday.

Starticus will break from the inside post under new rider Junior Alvarado in the Arlington Sprint, a 5 1/2-furlong turf race.

Starticus had a three-race winning streak snapped last time out when he weakened slightly to finish third in the allowance prep for the Play the King over 6 1/2 furlongs on turf.

Wollemi Pine and Just Rushing, the one-two finishers there, are contenders here in Saturday's Grade 2, $200,000 Play the King.

Baker sends pair to Charles Town

Trainer Reade Baker will be at Charles Town on Saturday night to saddle Ring of Greatness and Broadway Ellie for a pair of $100,000 stakes at 4 1/2 furlongs.

Ring of Greatness, a Florida-bred 2-year-old gelding who was claimed for $40,000 from a 10-length winning debut over five furlongs here Aug. 2, will run in the Charles Town Juvenile.

Broadway Ellie, a Kentucky-bred 2-year-old filly, will make her first start in the Miss Shenandoah.

Jerry Baird, a Baker regular, has the call on both Ring of Greatness and Broadway Ellie.

Fairlie goes 3 for 3

Sometimes, it's as easy as 1-2-3.

Trainer Scott Fairlie had entrants in the first three races on Wednesday evening's program and greeted Hubbert's Peak ($4.10), Milwaukee Appeal ($9.10), and Graceful Gracie ($13.80) in the winner's circle before calling it an evening.

Na Somsanith rode the $19.50 Fairlie double with apprentice Catherine O'Brien completing a $73.75 Fairlie pick three.

"It's always great to win races, but to win three in a row you don't really expect," said Fairlie, who won three races on a single card for the first time and vaulted into second place in the trainer standings with 28 wins.

Hubbert's Peak, a 5-year-old gelding who was claimed for $10,000 here last December, won a restricted first-level allowance and now has banked $94,828 in six starts for Fairlie this season.

Milwaukee Appeal was making his third start in a first-level allowance after winning his maiden for $40,000 in his second outing.

But, Fairlie acknowledged that his highlight on Wednesday was the success of Graceful Gracie, a 3-year-old filly who was winning her maiden in her 14th start for owners Ed Bona and Phil Stefaniak.

"I was particularly happy for Ed Bona, an exceptionally nice guy who named the horse after his late wife," said Fairlie. "He was devastated when she died, and I think having this horse helped him.

"The filly has had so much bad luck, too. She's been her own worst enemy."

Fairlie and Amy Bhangoo are the co-breeders of Graceful Gracie, who sold for $17,000 at the local yearling sale but was returned when she was found to be a cribber, a horse who clings to objects with her teeth and sucks air into her lungs.

Graceful Gracie is a half-sister to Wildcat Fashion, who was bred by Fairlie and Surinder Bhangoo and sold for $40,000 at last year's local vendue.

An Ontario-bred trained by Josie Carroll, Wildcat Fashion finished fourth in his 4 1/2-furlong debut and then graduated smartly over six furlongs.

Wildcat Fashion breezed six furlongs in 1:13.60 here Thursday and is one of the leading candidates for the Simcoe, the seven-furlong race for 2-year-old colts and geldings which is one of six $125,000 yearling sales stakes on the Sept. 3 Labor Day program.

* Jockey Eurico Rosa da Silva will sit out Sunday, Wednesday, and Friday's card (Thursday is a dark day) after being cited for his fourth whip infraction of the meeting. The latest ruling involved the seventh race last Sunday, as the stewards found Da Silva guilty of excessive whipping en route to his second-place finish aboard Down Range.