05/08/2007 11:00PM

Asmussen takes three shots


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - For trainer Steve Asmussen, the derby doings have been good this year. At the top of the list is Curlin, who finished third in the Kentucky Derby after winning last month's Grade 2, $1 million Arkansas Derby. And this weekend, Asmussen has his sights set on another derby. He plans to start Reporting for Duty, Forty Grams, and Takedown in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Derby on Saturday.

"It's a good spot," he said. "They all deserve it. They deserve the chance for different reasons."

Asmussen's run in derbies also included Zanjero's third-place finish in the Grade 2 Louisiana Derby. Zanjero then finished 12th in the Kentucky Derby.

As for the horses on deck for Saturday, each has represented himself well in stakes competition this spring.

Reporting for Deputy made his stakes debut in the Grade 2 Illinois Derby in his last start April 7, and finished second to Cowtown Cat. Forty Grams ran third in the $600,000 WinStar Derby in March, and was third in the Grade 2 Lexington in his most recent start on April 21. And the consistent Takedown, who won the $100,000 Borderland Derby at Sunland Park in February, comes into the Lone Star Derby off a win in the $100,000 Northern Spur at Oaklawn.

Reporting for Duty and Forty Grams will start as top choices for their efforts in graded stakes, while Takedown will get respect for his 4-for-7 record, his connections, and his pedigree. A son of Point Given, he races for Ackerley Brothers Farm, and is out of the multiple-stakes-winning mare Little Sister. She is a full sister to multiple Grade 3 winner Valid Expectations, and both horses were raced by the Ackerleys and trained by Asmussen.

"The whole family, they show up in the afternoon," Asmussen said of the family of Valid Expectations and Little Sister. "They're all the opposite of a morning glory. They all can find a little more when it matters most."

Asmussen said the opportunity to train Valid Expectations back in the mid-1990s jump-started his career. He has since gone on to set a single-season record for wins by a trainer in North America, scoring 555 in 2004.

"The Ackerleys have a lot to do with putting me on the map, a tremendous amount," he said. "Not saying anything else anybody's done for you, but when they buy the top seller out of the February sale and put him in your barn when the whole rest of the barn wouldn't have collectively added up to what he cost, they gave me a huge chance."

Valid Expectations was Asmussen's first major horse, and he won seven stakes between 1995-1997. He earned $596,092, while Little Sister came along and banked $720,568.

Reporting for Duty and Forty Grams were among five horses who flew into Dallas on Wednesday morning for the Lone Star Derby. The others were Slew's Tizzy, the winner of the Lexington; Harrow Land, who was a troubled second in the Northern Spur; and Moyer's Pond.

Others expected for the race are Reata's Rocket, the third-place finisher in the $100,000 Rushaway who has been stabled here since late April for trainer Joe Orseno, Gold Wonder, Mr. Nightlinger, Slew By Slew, and Taksent.

Berry rises to No. 1

Jockey Cliff Berry became Lone Star's all-time leading rider on Sunday, when he won his 478th race at the track with Haveuseenthelight in the fifth race. Berry is also the all-time leading rider at Remington Park. With the win at Lone Star, he surpassed the mark previously held by Corey Lanerie.

The milestone was one of two for riders here Sunday. Ramsey Zimmerman picked up the 1,000th win of his career in the sixth race, aboard Spend a Web.

* Fire Wheel will be seeking his fourth straight win Friday night when he starts in the seventh race, a first-level allowance for 3-year-olds over six furlongs. He began his streak in December with a maiden claiming win at Fair Grounds, and proceeded to win two other claimers, his latest over older horses April 15. Trainer Cody Autrey has given the mount to Berry.

* Lone Star handled $3,452,423 ontrack last Saturday, which is a record for the spring meet. The handle includes betting on incoming simulcasts, with $1.6 million bet on the Kentucky Derby Day program from Churchill Downs.