07/30/2009 12:00AM

Asmussen, Sellers form strong team on Cup Day


BOSSIER CITY, La. - Between them, Shane Sellers and Steve Asmussen have won more than 9,000 races. That figure appears likely to grow Saturday when the two join forces on Louisiana Cup Day at Louisiana Downs. The 10-race program, exclusively for Louisiana-breds, consists of eight stakes events with combined purse money of more than $800,000.

Asmussen has enlisted the services of Sellers on four of his charges on the afternoon, and all four are expected to be favored. For the past month, Sellers has been quietly resurrecting his career at Evangeline Downs, winning more than a dozen races from less than 50 mounts. Asmussen, meanwhile, continues to lead the nation in races won once again in 2009.

Asmussen and Sellers should prove especially formidable in the afternoon's two races for 2-year-olds. Asmussen swept both divisions of the D.S. "Shine" Futurity at Evangeline Downs last month and brings both of those winners back Saturday. Happyfromthegitgo cruised to a 3 1/2-length win in the filly division of the Shine and will be coupled in the Louisiana Cup Juvenile Fillies with Mami Wata, who qualified for the Texas Thoroughbred Sales Futurity at Lone Star earlier in the summer. Sellers will ride Happyfromthegitgo, while Gerard Melancon, who also has been riding at Evangeline, will be on board Mami Wata.

In the Juvenile, Asmussen and Sellers hold a strong hand with Heavenville. The Offlee Wild colt won at first asking at Keeneland in early April and on July 4 rallied strongly on the outside to win the colt and gelding division of the Shine.

Asmussen and Sellers also team up in the Filly and Mare Sprint with Appeal, as well as in the Oaks with Lightlightlight. In addition, Sellers will ride Rew's Blues for trainer James Hodges in the Louisiana Cup Derby.

Superior Storm a go in Distaff

Top billing on the equine side in this year's Louisiana Cup has to go to Superior Storm. The 4-year-old Stormy Atlantic filly has won 12 of her 19 starts, most of which have come in statebred stakes company where she remains unbeaten. Trainer Rick Jackson has given the all clear for his stable star after Superior Storm tied up last weekend and missed a scheduled workout.

"The blood work came back fine," Jackson said Thursday morning. "We are ready to go."

Jackson said that Superior Storm has tied up previously, the last time prior to the Grade 1 Apple Blossom earlier this year at Oaklawn. She showed no ill effects that day, running one of her best races to finish second. That effort came on the heels of another strong race by Superior Storm against open company when she defeated last year's 3-year-old filly champion Proud Spell in optional claiming company at Oaklawn.

Superior Storm is scheduled to make just her second start on the turf in the Louisiana Cup Distaff, but both that race and the Louisiana Cup Turf Classic appear more and more likely to be moved to the main track. An extremely wet weather pattern has gripped the region this week, and management made the unusual move Thursday morning of transferring both that day's and Friday's turf action to a sloppy main track even before the race week began.

"To tell you the truth, I don't see how we can race over it," Jackson said. "Right now, I would have to say we would probably scratch if the race stays on, because I sure don't want to run her over those boggy conditions."