04/16/2006 11:00PM

Asmussen jumps to usual position atop standings


With one week of the 2006 Lone Star Park meet in the books, Steve Asmussen sits just where you'd expect him to - atop the trainer standings. The surprising thing is that Asmussen started just 12 horses during the first four days of racing. By comparison, Bret Calhoun sent out 17.

Asmussen won with half the horses he ran - placing him in a tie with Cody Autrey, who went 6 for 11 - and he also won both of the week's stakes races, taking the Premiere Stakes on Thursday with Senor Amigo and saddling the one-two finishers Saturday in the $75,000 Irving Distaff, a highly eventful race. Paz Ciudadana wound up winning by a head over My Misty Princess, but the Irving Distaff turned strange long before then.

Beautiful Bay made it around most of the first turn, but bolted entering the backstretch, wiping out Peace Symbol and Indigo Girl. With the front pack gone, Paz Ciudadana, a closer, suddenly was running neck and neck for the lead with Rose Hunter, who then proceeded to break down at about the half-mile pole. And there was Paz Ciudadana alone in front on the far turn and into the stretch. She waited for My Misty Princess to catch up and pass her, then kicked in and got back in front at the wire.

"I'll wait and run her back in the WinStar," said Asmussen, referring to the Grade 3, $200,000 WinStar Distaff on May 29. "Paz runs well fresh. My Misty Princess, we'll just see how she comes out of the race."

Hamilton wins six in first week

Aboard Paz Ciudadana was 22-year-old Quincy Hamilton, also off to a good start at Lone Star, with six wins opening week. He is tied for second in the jockey standings behind last year's leading rider, Cliff Berry.

Hamilton, who finished fourth in the 2005 standings, has captured the riding title the last two seasons at Sam Houston and may be able to make a run at leading rider this summer.

"We have a lot of momentum built up right now, a lot of trainers behind us," Hamilton said of himself and agent Monty Penny. "A lot of hard work right now, I think we can be competitive in the standings. Our main goal is to win races, and if we were to get close to the top, that'd be some icing on the cake."

Hamilton, from Jasper, Texas, said he "didn't so much grow up around horses," though his father was a Quarter Horse jockey. "I never went to the track much when I was younger, but the summer of my junior year, I needed some quick cash, and my dad offered me the chance to go out to one of the farms with him. I ended up sticking with it a few months. Once I realized I could actually ride a horse, I loved it."

Chromedoll in wide-open feature

Hamilton has so far gotten more mounts than anyone else this meet, but he is without a ride in the featured eighth race Wednesday night. Carded at 7 1/2 furlongs on grass for entry-level allowance horses, the race drew a field of 10, including a coupled entry from the barn of trainer John Locke.

Finding a winner here will be no easy chore, but Chromedoll should be competitive. She finished second in a Texas-bred stakes the last time she raced, back in February, and may be a horse better-suited to the Lone Star turf course than the one at Louisiana Downs over which she finished fourth and sixth in two tries at this class level this past winter.

Texas Brick also could run well, her two turf tries being by all appearances the best showings in a 14-start career.