04/07/2008 12:00AM

Asmussen picks his spot carefully


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Nice Inheritance is a prime example of why trainer Steve Asmussen is winning races at a 24 percent clip in 2008. She will start Wednesday in the $100,000 Bayakoa at Oaklawn Park, but it wouldn't have been a surprise if she had been entered in last weekend's $500,000 Apple Blossom Handicap after nearly catching Grade 1 winner Tough Tiz's Sis last out in the $100,000 Harry Henson at Sunland Park.

"Right, but she didn't beat her," said Asmussen, who also owns Nice Inheritance. "She ran hard and she was second, and I want to run her in spots where I think she has a chance to win."

Nice Inheritance figures to be a slight favorite over the Larry Jones-trained duo of Buy the Barrel and Best Vow in the Bayakoa. The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares continues the 35th annual Racing Festival of the South, when at least one stakes a day is being run through the close of the meet Saturday.

Nice Inheritance, a multiple stakes winner, closed from next-to-last to finish three-quarters of a length behind Tough Tiz's Sis on March 16. She had won the allowance prep for the Henson on Feb. 5, and will be making her third start off a layoff.

A closer, Nice Inheritance has landed in a stakes that appears to be short on speed, but the quality of horse she faced last time makes her appealing from a class standpoint. A victory would help Asmussen, who leads all trainers in wins in North America, to extend his lead in the Oaklawn trainer standings. He had won 28 races here through Tuesday, four more than second-leading trainer Steve Hobby.

The chief threat is Buy the Barrel, who was an 8 1/2-length winner of the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff on Jan. 26. She has raced once since then, and finished fifth as one of the top choices in the $60,000 Chou Croute at Fair Grounds on Feb. 16.

"I think she was still probably knocked out a little from the Sam Houston race the way it all appeared later," said Jones. "She probably bounced a little on us. But she appears to be doing well here. She ran well over this track last year."

Buy the Barrel won her maiden at Oaklawn last April. She has tactical speed, and could get a nice tracking trip under Gabriel Saez.

There is a pick six carryover of $15,224.