05/05/2005 11:00PM

Asmussen present vs. past

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The Niner Account, formerly of the Steve Asmussen barn, and Western Roar, currently of the Steve Asmussen barn, square off in the featured eighth race on Sunday at Lone Star. But Asmussen has nothing to do with Archeval, who could beat both of them if he transfers his dirt form to turf.

The feature is a five-furlong grass sprint for nonwinners of a race in 2005 other than maiden, claiming, starter, or trial. Western Roar fits the condition easily, since he has not cracked the top three in four starts this year, while has yet to even run in 2005. Both horses are obvious contenders in a seven-horse field that lacks depth.

had a strong 2004, turning in top performances on both turf and dirt; at his best, he lost by a neck in an overnight turf stakes last November at Churchill. But that race, it turns out, was a high-water mark.

On April 22 in a restricted turf stakes over the Lone Star grass course, however, Western Roar finally showed signs of life again. He finished fourth, beaten less than a length, and should improve off the effort in Sunday's race.

Asmussen claimed The Niner Account for himself in December 2003, spending $10,000, and the next summer won five races in a row with the horse before losing him for $20,000. Two races and four months later, trainer Martin Lozano claimed The Niner Account for $20,000, ran him for $32,000, and has not offered The Niner Account for a tag in 12 subsequent starts. And for good reason: The Niner Account won seven times in 2004. It has been almost four months since The Niner Account last saw action, but he has been blazing through morning works at Sunland.

finished 2004 with three straight wins, the last of them in the Louisiana Champions Day Sprint. But the big question with Archeval is grass, since he has never raced on it and isn't bred for the surface.