Updated on 09/15/2011 12:24PM

Asmussen set, fore and aft, for Turf Cup


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Steve Asmussen has a two-fold plan of attack for the $300,000 Dallas Turf Cup at Lone Star Park on Saturday: If he can't beat them early with the front-running Vergennes, he'll try to catch them late with Nat's Big Party.

Vergennes, a Grade 1 winner at the 1 1/8-mile distance of the Dallas Turf Cup, will make his first start since finishing fourth, beaten a length, in the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park on Feb. 22. Nat's Big Party last raced May 26, surging from well off the pace to win a local prep for the Dallas Turf Cup by three lengths, defeating a trio expected to start Saturday: Dignitas Dancer, Candid Glen, and Gold Nugget.

"I'm comfortable running the two in that they're not going to get in each other's way," said Asmussen, who put both horses through their final works Tuesday. Vergennes breezed four furlongs over firm turf in 49.60 at Churchill Downs, and Nat's Big Party breezed the same distance over the main track at Lone Star in 50.60.

Vergennes, a gelding, has been pointed for the Dallas Turf Cup "since the stakes book came out," said Asmussen. The trainer said Vergennes, a winner of $726,974, will be reunited with Frank Lovato Jr. on Saturday. The rider was last aboard Vergennes in September when he won the DeBartolo Memorial at Remington Park in course-record time. "I'm hoping he can [run] back to a race like the DeBartolo," said Asmussen.

Nat's Big Party, a winner of $344,837 who was racing in high-end claiming races at Fair Grounds, earned the chance to run in the Dallas Turf Cup after his win in the local allowance prep. "He's kind of a here and now horse," said Asmussen. "I think he deserves the opportunity off how well he has run over this [course], which seems to be very important watching the winners of the [Lone Star] Million Day races on the turf. All were horses that had run on this turf course before." Corey Lanerie has the mount Saturday.

Locals trying Summit of Speed

Vinnie's Boy, who caught Wild Hits in the last jump to win the $100,000 Lone Star Park Turf Sprint on Lone Star Million Day on May 28, will make his next start during the Summit of Speed at Calder Race Course in Miami in the $100,000 Calder Turf Sprint Handicap on July 14, said Asmussen.

Another local runner who could race during the Summit of Speed is Cheryl P. Trainer Barry Germany said the filly, a three-time stakes winner who finished third as the 1-2 favorite in the Mesquite Breeders' Cup Mile Saturday at Lone Star, is under serious consideration for the Grade 3 $250,000 Azalea Breeders' Cup Stakes at six furlongs.

Cheryl P. has also been nominated to the $125,000 Walmac Lone Star Oaks, to be run at 1 1/16 miles on turf July 4. That race could be the next start for Slapstick, runner-up in the Mesquite Mile behind winner Zeta, who has shipped back to the Churchill Downs base of trainer Elliott Walden. Her next start has yet to be determined, said Shannon Ritter, the Lone Star assistant to Walden.

* Quiet Man, who has finished second in his last three starts, will attempt to break through with a win in the featured eighth race Thursday night, a one-mile conditioned turf allowance worth $31,000.