11/17/2004 12:00AM

Asmussen starts 14 at Houston


Asmussen could break Jack Van Berg's record of 496 wins by a trainer in a calendar year in a stakes this weekend. His first big push will be Saturday night, when he starts 12 horses in eight of the nine stakes that will make up the annual Texas Champions Day program at Sam Houston. Overall, the trainer will have 14 starters on the 11-race card.

Asmussen needed 12 wins to break Van Berg's record as of Wednesday morning.

"I wouldn't expect to win 11 races before Saturday," he said. "I would welcome it, but I wouldn't expect it."

If the Van Berg record is still standing after Saturday night, Asmussen runs both Quintons Gold Rush and Warleigh, who is being pointed for the Grade 3 River City at Churchill on Sunday.

Asmussen's stakes starters on Texas Champions Day are, in order of appearance, Sago in the $50,000 Yellow Rose; Expect Will and Security Code in the $50,000 Groovy; Roundabout Jones and Term Sheet in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas; Silver Pegasus in the $50,000 Richard King; Jester Rehab in the $75,000 Martanza; El Batallon in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile; Desert Darby in the $100,000 Star of Texas; and Tuned In, Berdelia, and Timber Jones in the $50,000 Bara Lass.

Last year, Asmussen won five races on Texas Champions Day.

'Leaving' from the rail in Juvenile

Leaving on My Mind, who has won 4 stakes in his last 4 starts, will break from the rail Saturday night in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile. The 1 1/16-mile race is the richest of nine stakes on the card, and it is the lone race for open company. All other stakes are restricted to horses bred in Texas.

Leaving on My Mind, to be ridden by Roman Chapa, is one of nine starters in the Juvenile. The remainder of the field, from the inside with riders, is Justa Red Bird, Larry Taylor; Stan's Friend, Cliff Berry; Major League, Corey Lanerie; Reno Bob, Luis Quinonez; Won Away, Amanda Crandall; Boggy Creek, Carlos Marquez Jr.; Special Sands, Jeffrey Burningham; and El Batallon, Donnie Meche.

Advance wagering on the Texas Champions Day card will be available Friday at Sam Houston. First post for the card Saturday is 6 p.m. Central, one hour earlier than usual. Before the races, there will be a free handicapping seminar with Scott Ehlers of Daily Racing Form and Reid McLellan of Sam Houston.

There is also a $2,500 online handicapping contest at www.shrp.com.

* Gordon Hare, longtime executive director of the Oklahoma Racing Commission, has submitted a letter of retirement effective Feb. 1, 2005.