07/29/2008 12:00AM

Asmussen out to build on W.Va. Derby success


Z Fortune will try to continue trainer Steve Asmussen's recent dominance in the West Virginia Derby when he faces 11 other 3-year-olds, including Illinois Derby winner Recapturetheglory and Ohio Derby runner-up Cherokee Artist, in Saturday's Grade 3, $750,000 race at Mountaineer Racetrack.

The 1 1/8-mile West Virginia Derby headlines an all-stakes nine-race card that has a special 2 p.m. Eastern first post time. The feature race will be part of an ESPN broadcast from 5 to 6 p.m.

Asmussen won last year's West Virginia Derby with Zanjero and the 2005 running with Real Dandy. He must hope that Z Fortune can rebound after back-to-back losses as the favorite in the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and the Iowa Derby.

Z Fortune was at his best when he finished second in the Grade 3 Risen Star at Fair Grounds and second again in the Grade 2 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park. He was 10th, beaten more than 19 lengths by Big Brown, in the Kentucky Derby.

Recapturetheglory, fifth in the Kentucky Derby, and My Pal Charlie, whose claim to fame is a second-place finish at 60-1 in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby, both exit the Grade 3 Northern Dancer at Churchill Downs in mid-June.

Cherokee Artist comes off a pair of seconds in the Ohio Derby and the Grade 3 Barbaro at Delaware Park.

The field also includes Marble Cliff, who is 4 for 5 lifetime, all against Ohio-breds; Proud Kentuckian, a Larry Jones-trained colt who steps up to try stakes company after winning three in a row at Delaware Park; and Ready Set, who finished a head behind Cherokee Artist last time out in the Barbaro.

* Asmussen has entered Zanjero and Magna Graduate, second by a head in last year's Grade 1 Stephen Foster, in the $125,000 West Virginia Governor's at 1 1/16 miles.

* Fabulous Strike, one of the nation's top sprinters who was scratched from last weekend's Alfred Vanderbilt at Saratoga because of a foot injury, may run in the $110,000 Harvey Arneault Memorial at six furlongs. In case Fabulous Strike isn't ready, trainer Todd Beattie also entered Are You Serious.