12/29/2007 12:00AM

Asmussen seeks big '07 finish

EmailAs the curtain falls Monday on the year 2007, trainer Steve Asmussen has a lot to look back on and smile about. In addition to training likely Horse of the Year Curlin, Asmussen, through Friday, continued to hold a slight edge over Scott Lake as winningest trainer in North America this year.

Before any celebrations begin, however, there is still business for the Asmussen stable to attend to, specifically saddling major contenders in two $50,000 divisions of the Louisiana Futurity, the features on the New Year's Eve program at Fair Grounds.

The colt and gelding division at six furlongs, which goes as race 4, finds Asmussen in a favorable position with Cubera, who finished a clear second to Star Guitar in the Champions Day Juvenile at Fair Grounds earlier this month after making a brief lead in the stretch.

Cubera's stalking style should come in handy as his Futurity division drew plenty of speed. The quickest of them might be Postage Necessary, a 24-1 winner of his debut in a $50,000 maiden claimer at Hollywood Park on Dec. 2. Must Acquit, Pantara Phantom, and Lee's Spirit, who helped provide Star Guitar and Cubera with favorable setups in the Champions Day Juvenile, should again be prominent factors early.

Another who may benefit from a fast early pace is Cush, a recent maiden winner who was second to Star Guitar in his debut. Cush showed a more relaxed style second out, rating in fifth early before drawing off to win by 1 1/4 lengths.

The filly division of the Louisiana Futurity goes as race 7 and also will be run at six furlongs. Asmussen again has the probable favorite in Hisse, the field's only stakes winner, but the daughter of Buddha drew post 12 in the field of 13 and might end up conceding more ground than usual early.

Hisse captured the Laurel Lane Stakes at Louisiana Downs in July and made her first start since that race in the Champions Day Lassie on Dec. 8. She rallied to finish second behind runaway winner Superior Storm, though ahead of favorite Claudia Bertha. If she had been only a race away from peak fitness, Hisse can close out her juvenile campaign with a win.

Runaway From Itall, a maiden second-time starter, also figures to avoid an expected early duel for the lead. She earned a competitive 63 Beyer Speed Figure when four lengths second to Imahonkytonkgirl, one of the likely pacesetters in the Futurity.