03/20/2002 1:00AM

Asmussen: Private Emblem, Descapate 'need more time'


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Both Private Emblem, winner of a division of the $75,000 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn on March 2, and Descapate, third as the favorite in the Grade 3, $200,000 Oaklawn Breeders' Cup last Saturday, will bypass the next logical races for them on the Oaklawn stakes calendar, according to trainer Steve Asmussen.

Private Emblem, who has done his best running when his races are spaced well apart, will pass this Saturday's Grade 3, $100,000 Rebel Stakes and instead go straight to the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby on April 13.

"He's won two stakes in a row in six-week intervals, so we're not going to change what's working for him," said Asmussen.

A race before the Southwest, Private Emblem won the $75,000 Black Gold Handicap on turf at Fair Grounds.

Despite Private Emblem's absence, Asmussen will still be represented in the Rebel by two starters - Windward Passage, who finished third in the second division of the Southwest, and Interminable Gold, who ran fifth in the first division, behind Private Emblem.

will not start in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom and instead be pointed to the Grade 2, $300,000 Louisville Breeders' Cup Handicap at Churchill Downs on May 3. A race before the Oaklawn Breeders' Cup, she was a seven-length winner of the $150,000 Chou Croute at Fair Grounds on Feb. 23. Asmussen said the filly's performance was flat in the Oaklawn BC. "She obviously needs more time between races," he said.

Descapate, a grand-looking daughter of Dehere, has won four of six career starts by a combined 27 3/4 lengths.

Asmussen plans to start two of his Sam Houston Race Park stakes winners next month at Oaklawn, Sly Kona and Faxamillion. A three-time stakes winner at Sam Houston, Sly Kona is pointing for the $50,000 Althea on April 13. Faxamillion, winner of the $30,000 Spindletop over seven furlongs at Sam Houston, is being pointed for the $75,000 Northern Spur here April 10.

Asmussen will win the Sam Houston trainer title when the meet ends March 30. He leads the standings with 54 victories, 25 more than Danny Pish, who is in second place. Asmussen's stable also leads the earnings standings, with winnings of $771,121.

"We've had an incredible meet at Sam Houston," he said.

Dusty Spike's kick impresses Berry

Dusty Spike, who finished a close second to Private Emblem in the Southwest, impressed jockey Cliff Berry with the explosive burst of speed he showed on the final turn of the one-mile race, the colt's first attempt at racing around two turns. Dusty Spike had trailed by 15 lengths early in the race but was beaten by only three-quarters of a length at 28-1.

It was the first time Berry had ridden Dusty Spike, a big, good-looking colt who became a stakes winner in December, upsetting the heavily favored Boston Common in the $25,000 Alamo over seven furlongs at Sam Houston.

"I had no idea he had a kick like that," Berry said. "They're are not too many horses that finish like that."

Berry made almost as big a move in the Oaklawn standings earlier this month when he won seven races in a week to move into a tie for fifth place. Berry, a multiple title winner at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, is riding at Oaklawn on a daily basis for the first time in 10 years. Following this meet, he will ride at Lone Star Park near Dallas.

Mark Lee, who trains Dusty Spike, said that a good performance in Saturday's Rebel will advance the colt to the Arkansas Derby. Dusty Spike is based at a training center near Oklahoma City and was to ship to Oaklawn on Friday.

Western Side cuts back

Western Side, who finished second to Descapate in a one-mile allowance Jan. 20, returns to racing over that distance Friday in the ninth race, which drew five others, including the unbeaten See How She Runs.

In her last start, Western Side finished second in a 1 1/16-mile race. "I think she's more of a seven-eighths to a mile filly right now," said Kenny Smith, who trains Western Side, a daughter of the champion racemare North Sider.

Smith said next month Western Side could try turf in the $75,000 Irving Distaff, a 7 1/2-race for fillies and mares at Lone Star on April 13. Smith is also pointing recent Oaklawn allowance winner Sassy Das for the Irving Distaff.

See How She Runs has won both of her career starts in impressive fashion for trainer Donnie Von Hemel.