Updated on 09/16/2011 7:11AM

Asmussen thinking three's a crowd

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Steve Asmussen trains one Kentucky Derby probable in Private Emblem and another possible Derby starter in Windward Passage. But he says the Derby for Easyfromthegitgo, who has distance limitations, is "highly unlikely."

Steve Asmussen already has one legitimate Kentucky Derby starter in Arkansas Derby winner Private Emblem, and could have another in Windward Passage, who finished in a dead heat for third in the Arkansas Derby. He also trains Louisiana Derby runner-up Easyfromthegitgo, who runs in Saturday's $325,000 Coolmore Lexington Stakes at Keeneland, but Asmussen reiterated Tuesday that the Derby is "highly unlikely" for Easyfromthegitgo.

The reasons are many. Asmussen believes the Derby's 1 1/4 miles is beyond the ideal range for Easyfromthegitgo. "A mile and a sixteenth," he said, referring to the distance of the Lexington, "suits Easyfromthegitgo right now."

Easyfromthegitgo is owned by Jim Cassels and Bob Zollars, who got a taste of the Derby last year with Louisiana Derby winner Fifty Stars. Cassels and Zollars also own Private Emblem, so they now have their 2002 Derby horse.

"Private Emblem being with the same owners, that takes from pressure off Easyfromthegitgo," Asmussen said.

If it all goes to plan, Easyfromthegitgo will move on to another middle-distance race, the 1 1/8-mile Lone Star Derby on May 11, after the Lexington. It's a juggling act, but one Asmussen has performed quite deftly this spring. He has tried to keep his horses apart, but was not afraid to run two of them in the same race if that race - such as the Arkansas Derby - was judged to be the best spot for more than one horse.

"It's gone about as well as I could have liked, and better than expected," Asmussen said Tuesday. He admitted he bought a $20 win ticket on Private Emblem in Pool 3 of the Kentucky Derby Future Wager, in which Private Emblem closed at 231-1. "It is kind of funny," he said.

Easyfromthegitgo worked a half-mile in 49.20 seconds on Tuesday morning at Churchill Downs.

The Lexington was used as a prep for the Kentucky Derby three years ago by Charismatic, who went on to win both the Derby and Preakness Stakes.

But this year's Lexington is filled primarily with horses whose ability to get 10 furlongs is highly questionable, and thus the Derby is not of paramount importance to their trainers. Both Patrick Byrne, who trains Ethan Man, and Bob Baffert, who trains Officer, do not have Derby fever with those colts.

"We've been playing catch-up all year," Byrne said Tuesday. "He hasn't been an inch over seven-eighths of a mile. I'm not crazy about bringing him back in 13 days" for the Derby.

The Lexington is one of the final graded stakes races for 3-year-olds before the May 4 Kentucky Derby. There was plenty of activity surrounding the Derby on Tuesday:

* Came Home, the Santa Anita Derby winner, worked five furlongs in 1:01.80 at Santa Anita.

* Jorge Chavez, who won last year's Kentucky Derby on Monarchos, abandoned ship on Blue Grass Stakes runner-up Booklet - who is unlikely to run in the Derby - and picked up the mount on Santa Anita Derby runner-up Easy Grades, according to Ted H. West, trainer of Easy Grades.

* Medaglia d'Oro and Sunday Break, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Wood Memorial, were scheduled to arrive at Churchill Downs after a flight from New York.

* One of the minority owners of Azillion, the colt who finished last in the Blue Grass, inquired about seats for the Derby - which often indicates a desire to have a horse in the Derby - but trainer Bob Hess Jr., who brought Azillion back to Santa Anita after the Blue Grass, said, "It is my inclination to pass the Derby."

* And It'sallinthechase, who was ninth of 11 in the Arkansas Derby, was added to the Derby field as a definite starter. It'sallinthechase is trained by Wilson Brown, who calls himself "an old boy from Jones, Oklahoma," and threatens to become one of the most popular characters at this year's Derby.

"My owner called me last night and said, 'Get your big hat, you're going to the Derby,'" Brown said from Oklahoma. "The closest I've ever come to the twin spirals [sic] is watching them on TV. You can't miss me. I've got a hat and I'm dough-bellied."

* The Derby field has a maximum of 20 runners. If more than 20 are entered, the field is determined by earnings in graded stakes races. It'sallinthechase has $117,000 in graded stakes earnings, largely from his third-place finish in the Louisiana Derby, which places him in the top 20 among Derby prospects.

* Came Home's work was his first since his gritty victory in the Santa Anita Derby. His regular rider, Chris McCarron, was aboard for the work, which was watched by trainer Paco Gonzalez and co-owner Trudy McCaffery.

"He worked super, he felt great, and we were just trying to keep him happy," McCarron said. "He came bouncing off the racetrack with a lot of spring in his step."

Gonzalez said, "The horse just ran, and he looks good, so I'm happy."

"He came out of his last race very good," Gonzalez said. "Only the one day he had a temperature. Other than that, he came out very good. He's doing good."

Came Home is scheduled to fly to Kentucky on Friday. Also on that flight is Lusty Latin, who finished third in the Santa Anita Derby.

- additional reporting by Brad Free