07/23/2009 11:00PM

Asmussen looks good in Middleground


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - For all the 2-year-old success trainer Steve Asmussen has had at Lone Star Park, it's a surprise to learn he has won the season-ending Middleground Stakes only once. And that was way back in 1998.

"We've been second in it seven times," he said.

Sunday, it will take a good horse to beat the two colts Asmussen will start in this year's renewal of the $75,000 Middleground. He has the undefeated Big Texas Daddy, who in his last start won a $125,000 division of the Texas Stallion Stakes, and Grand Slam Andre, who invades from Churchill, for the six-furlong race that closes out the meet at Lone Star.

Big Texas Daddy won his maiden at Lone Star on July 4, with a Beyer Figure of 88. A stout horse, he returned to action on July 11 to win the Stallion Stakes, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in a sharp 1:03.60. He earned a Beyer of 89.

"For him to run seven days apart and that fast last time, that says a lot about him," said Asmussen. "I did not think I would be lucky enough to get into the Stallion Stakes without a race. It worked out. He's trained great since, and this is a chance at an open stakes."

Grand Slam Andre won his maiden by 7 3/4 lengths at Churchill on June 4, then met winners in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at the Kentucky track in his last start July 3.

"He was fourth in the Bashford Manor, and is a quality horse for the race," said Asmussen.

Big Texas Daddy will break from the rail under Chris Landeros. Grand Slam Andre drew post 9 in the field of nine, and will be ridden by Eguard Tejera. The horses race for separate interests, with Big Texas Daddy owned by Ackerley Brothers Farm and Grand Slam Andre going to post for J. Kirk Robison.

Western Forum was second to Big Texas Daddy in the Stallion Stakes, racing with the pace in the early stages and finishing three-quarters of a length back. He earned a career-best Beyer Figure of 87. He is one of three horses in the field trained by Bret Calhoun, who is second in the trainer standings to Asmussen. Calhoun's other representatives are the coupled entry of Range War and Fast Serve.