05/07/2003 11:00PM

Asmussen looking for the proper mix


CHICAGO - Steve Asmussen led the country in wins by a trainer last year, and this season has seen little change. Asmussen easily won the Fair Grounds training title over the winter, and as of this week was second in the country by wins and third in earnings.

With 46 stalls at Arlington, Asmussen could run wild here, but that's not what happened in the past. At last year's meet, Asmussen started 149 horses and won with 23 of them, good for only sixth in the standings. And though Asmussen thinks he has "a couple of decent ones" at Arlington, it may not be reasonable to expect him to contend for the training title here.

"We can't handle [Wayne] Catalano, I'll say that," Asmussen said.

Right now, Asmussen's stable is split several ways, with major strings at Churchill and Lone Star. Asmussen has stepped up his Kentucky presence the last couple seasons, and at Lone Star, in his home state of Texas, Asmussen puts up unbelievable numbers. Can somebody really be expected to simultaneously fight major battles on three fronts?

"I don't have a lot of Illinois owners," Asmussen said Thursday from Dallas. "We're just trying to match the proper horses for the proper track. Once the meet gets going there, you see what races are going to go, and you adjust."

The stakes filly Souris came out of Asmussen's Arlington string last summer, and while it remains to be seen what kind of young talent emerges from this group, Asmussen hopes he has at least one stakes horse in the barn. That would be Full Mandate, a blue-blooded colt owned by Padua Stables and Fog City Stables who starts Saturday in the $100,000 Black Tie Affair.

Slow to develop, the 4-year-old Full Mandate has improved steadily over the last year and comes into his first stakes race off consecutive allowance wins, the last at Keeneland. Asmussen thinks he can run well on Saturday, and that would get this summer off to a more Asmussen-like start.

Hobby's 'Good News'

The news was good this spring for trainer Steve Hobby, but no news was better than Sue's Good News. Of the several promising young horses Hobby sent out at Oaklawn Park, Sue's Good News seemed like the best of them, and after three straight wins to start her career Sue's Good News is scheduled to try the Grade 3 Dogwood Stakes this month at Churchill.

Sue's Good News, a Woodman filly who is a half-brother to Easyfromthegitgo, worked a solid five furlongs this week at Arlington.

"I think she's the real deal," Hobby said. "Chris Emigh worked her the first time last year, and when he came back he was going nuts."

Sue's Good News won sprints in her first two starts, and easily handled stretching out to a mile in her last race, a minor stakes at Oaklawn.

Besides the 3-year-olds, Hobby still has the veteran sprinter Chindi in the barn. Chindi was part of a three-horse photo in a high-end Churchill allowance last weekend, and continues to hold stakes-quality form at age 9. Hobby thought Chindi would have won last weekend if he hadn't acted up at the gate.

"I don't know what that was about," Hobby said. "He's never done anything like it before. He's an old cow pony in the gate."

* Trainer Gene Cilio said that the stakes winner Allspice came out of her fifth-place finish in the Grade 1 Ashland Stakes with a bone chip and has undergone surgery to repair the injury. Allspice could return later this summer.