01/26/2008 12:00AM

Asmussen thinks Pyro will be ready


NEW ORLEANS - With the nominations closing and the Risen Star looming, Steve Asmussen remains inclined to follow through with his original intention of running Pyro in the Grade 3 race.

Pyro has been slow to come around following his vacation after finishing second in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile, though he turned in a reasonable work Thursday, going five furlongs in 1:00.60.

"He's in the vicinity and he's likely to go in the Risen Star," Asmussen said. "He picked it up nicely this week, and he has a couple of works before the race."

Asmussen indicated that the Southwest Stakes is also a possibility, but he seemed more focused on having him ready for the Risen Star.

Pyro has $480,000 in graded earnings thanks to his second-place finishes in the Breeders' Cup Juvenile and Champagne Stakes, likely ensuring him a spot in the Kentucky Derby. The earnings give Asmussen the chance to use Pyro's spring campaign as a prep for the Kentucky Derby.

If Pyro goes in the Risen Star, he will join barnmate Z Fortune, who won the Jan. 12 Lecomte in impressive fashion.

Other probable runners for the Risen Star include the David Carroll-trained Blackberry Road, who finished second in the Lecomte, and Mad Flatter, who had a wide trip while finishing third.

He's Eze, who finished fourth in Lecomte, will join other probables, including Signature Move, Peteadoris, Visionaire, and Gangbuster.

Euroears targets Colonel Power

Euroears's success at sprinting has delayed trainer Bret Calhoun's plans to let him try longer distances. Calhoun plans to run him in the Colonel Power Stakes, which will be run on the undercard of the Risen Star.

Euroears has run his record of perfection to 4 for 4. Euroears stepped up into stakes company in the Gaudin Memorial in his last outing, running an extremely game race. After going eyeball to eyeball with Stormin Baghdad, he prevailed by three-quarters of a length.

"He came out of the race good," Calhoun said. "He is supposed to breeze, but it has been so wet. But he will when we get a nice track."

The Colonel Power will be run on the turf, a surface Euroears has tried only once, in a second-level allowance going 5 1/2 furlongs. He was much the best that day, winning by 2 1/2 lengths.

"We've answered questions about the surface, so I won't go into the race wondering if he'll take to the surface," Calhoun said.

Black Gold Stakes takes shape

The Black Gold Stakes, to be run Saturday for 3-year-olds going 5 1/2 furlongs on the turf, is beginning to take shape, with a field of seven or eight probables.

The field is likely to include Knotty Knotty, who scratched from a race Saturday to take his spot in the field. He will be making his first try on turf.

Other likely entrants are Amazing Results, Ben and the Twin, and General G. Of the known entrants, Amazing Results is the only one with turf experience, including a victory and two second-place finishes in four efforts.