11/23/2004 1:00AM

Asmussen staying for winter

Email
Jim Linscott
Daydreaming, winning the Oct. 1 Indiana BC Oaks, will run in Friday's Top Flight Handicap at Aqueduct.

OZONE PARK, N.Y. - As part of his record-setting season, Steve Asmussen won 19 races and had a 25-percent win rate in New York from May through Sunday. Now, Asmussen will see what he can do here the other five months of the year.

For the first time, Asmussen will maintain a New York string during the winter. He will have approximately 30 horses stabled at Belmont Park for the upcoming winter meet at Aqueduct. Aqueduct's inner track opens Wednesday.

Asmussen, whose 500 wins through Sunday represent a single-season record for a trainer, has enjoyed a solid fall at Aqueduct, winning with 4 of 16 starters, including a victory in Sunday's Grade 3 Valley Stream Stakes with the New York-bred Megascape. Asmussen will go for another graded stakes win here with Bwana Charlie in Thursday's Grade 3 Fall Highweight Handicap.

Asmussen said he believes he has many horses that fit New York, including an expanded group of New York-breds such as Megascape.

"That definitely makes it the thing to do," Asmussen said. "I've got quite a few young horses, and when Churchill's over I'll send in some more high-priced claimers."

Asmussen, who maintains strings in Louisiana, Oaklawn, and Chicago in the winter, said he would not have any horses stabled in Florida this year.

"Florida's a tough go. Either you can't get in because the race overfills or the race doesn't go,'' Asmussen said, adding that during the winter in New York, "lesser horses run for more money. It's just how it goes. I don't play golf so [missing Florida] doesn't bother me."

Toby Sheets will run Asmussen's New York stable.

Passing Shot out of Top Flight

Passing Shot, third in the First Flight Handicap last out, will not run back in Friday's Top Flight as planned, trainer Allen Jerkens said Wednesday.

Passing Shot, who upset Wild Spirit in the 2003 Personal Ensign Handicap, missed most of this past summer because of a foot injury.

"She still has trouble with one of her feet, and I couldn't train her like I wanted to," Jerkens said.

Jerkens added that Passing Shot, who is owned by Joseph Shields, would most likely run during the Gulfstream meet, but "if she doesn't do any good by February, they'll probably breed her."

Passing Shot's lone win from six starts this year came in the Grade 3 Bed o' Roses Breeders' Cup Handicap here in April.

A field of six is expected for the Top Flight, including Bending Strings, Daydreaming, Roar Emotion, Tempus Fugit, Pop Princess, and Distinctive Kitten.

On Tuesday Pop Princess worked three furlongs in 37.07 seconds over Belmont's main track. Pop Princess, trained by Bobby Frankel, is 2 for 2 since adding blinkers. Both wins, in allowance company, have come at the Top Flight distance of one mile.

Badge of Silver breezes toward Cigar

Badge of Silver, another Frankel stakes runner this weekend, worked four furlongs in 48.67 seconds at Belmont in preparation for Saturday's Grade 1, $350,000 Cigar Mile.

Badge of Silver will be making just his second start for Frankel. On Oct. 16, in his first start in eight months, Badge of Silver chased the front-running Mike's Classic around the track, finishing one length behind in a swift 1:08.90.

Mike's Classic, from Allen jerken's barn was training toward a possible start in the Fall Highweight Handicap before turning up sore and is being freshened.

Badge of Silver, whose career has been interrupted by injuries, primarily to his feet, shows a steady work tab since that race.

"His feet are good now," said assistant trainer Jose Cuevas. "We've been very lucky with him so far."

Jerry Bailey, who rode Cigar Mile probable Kela to a runner-up finish in the Breeders' Cup Sprint, will ride Badge of Silver in the Cigar Mile.

Salute gets blinkers for Demoiselle

Trainer Shug McGaughey said he would probably enter both Salute and Smuggler in Saturday's $200,000 Demoiselle Stakes, a Grade 2 race for juvenile fillies, but is likely to just run Salute. McGaughey added that Salute will race in blinkers for the first time.

McGaughey said the timing of the Demoiselle is better for Salute, who finished third in the Grade 2 Tempted on Nov. 2. Smuggler, who has won her first two starts, is coming off an entry-level allowance win on Nov. 11 and is under consideration for the $100,000 Three Ring Stakes at Calder on Dec. 4.

Salute finished third behind Summer Raven in the Tempted, pressing that rival before weakening late.

"Hopefully, we won't have to chase as much," McGaughey said. "There'll be a little more speed in there and we can lay right behind them."

McGaughey said he has noticed a difference in Salute since he tried blinkers on her in the morning.

"I think she's more in the game with the blinkers rather than kind of floating around," McGaughey said.

Natalie Jane, an Irish-bred daughter of Giant's Causeway, has been added to the field for the Demoiselle. Others expected include Sis City, Winning Season, My Typhoon, Secrets Galore, and possibly maidens K.D.'s Shady Lady and Money Helps.

Thornton to return at Aqueduct

Apprentice rider Tim Thornton, who won 34 races during last year's inner-track meet, will attempt a comeback from injury when this year's inner-track meet opens next Wednesday. Drew Mollica will handle Thornton's book during the remaining six weeks of his apprenticeship.

Thornton recorded a record of 34-39-40 from 304 starts during the 2003-04 inner-track meet. Before that, he went 10 for 61 during Aqueduct's 2003 fall main-track meet.

In March, Thornton moved his tack to Chicago, where he rode at Hawthorne and Arlington. Thornton was injured in a spill at Hawthorne and then suffered a broken bone and injured ligament in a wrist in a July spill at Arlington.

"He won some races for a lot of people including [John] DeStefano and Scott Schwartz, and we hope to rekindle those relationships," Mollica said. "Hopefully we can do a little bit of good."

Mollica represents Richard Migliore, who is sidelined until mid-December due to a wrist and rib injury.