06/02/2009 11:00PM

Asmussen winning at a record-setting pace


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Steve Asmussen has won 10 titles at Lone Star Park since 1999 to rank as the track's all-time leading trainer in wins, with 861, and purse earnings, with more than $19 million. So, it comes as a surprise to learn he does not hold Lone Star's record for seasonal wins by a trainer. But it looks like that could soon change.

Lone Star moves into the second half of its meet this week, and Asmussen is comfortably sitting atop the standings with 58 wins from 194 starts over the first 33 days of the 65-date meet. And with an 11th title within his reach thanks to a 27-win lead in the standings through Sunday, the chase of interest for the remainder of the meet might be his bid for the seasonal win mark.

Asmussen's target is Cole Norman's record of 98 wins, which he set over a 70-date meet in 2003.

At this point, it looks doable. Asmussen has averaged 1.76 wins a day this meet, and at that pace he would win 114 races by the end of the season July 26. To surpass Norman, he needs to win 41 races over the final 32 days of racing in a countdown that began Thursday night. Asmussen is well positioned to get the record as he has gotten off to one of the fastest starts he has ever had at Lone Star.

"We're having a great meet here," he said. "I think we're trying to concentrate our efforts a bit. We're trying not to be spread as thin."

Last summer, Asmussen had a division of horses at Presque Isle Downs in Pennsylvania, but he does not this season. And he has started fewer horses at neighboring Louisiana Downs than he had up to this point a year ago. Those factors, plus the makeup of the horses in his local stable, have led to winning races in bunches at Lone Star.

"We just have a lot more conditions," Asmussen said, "and the babies have run well."

Asmussen's juveniles will be out in full force here Saturday in the two $100,000 divisions of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity. He qualified six fillies to one division and four colts to the other. Each race can have a field of 12.

Asmussen, 43, has had a stable at Lone Star since the inaugural meet in 1997, when he won 17 races to rank fifth in the standings. Since then, he has gone on to win multiple national titles and train Curlin, a two-time Horse of the Year. Asmussen has horses on six fronts right now, with other stables in Canada, Chicago, Kentucky, New York, and south Louisiana.

Stakes next for Magdalena's Chase

Magdalena's Chase ran 5 1/2 furlongs in a blazing 1:02.28 here last Saturday in a $30,000 optional claimer for fillies and mares, earning a career-best Beyer Speed Figure of 102. It was the second straight win at the meet for Magdalena's Chase, a 4-year-old daughter of Cape Town.

"She's just gotten so sharp," said Justin Evans, who trains Magdalena's Chase for SEJ Stables. "I'm so happy with her progress.

"Blinkers were really key to moving her up."

Evans put blinkers on Magdalena's Chase two starts ago, and she romped in a $20,000 claiming race at Lone Star. She came back to roll by seven lengths in the optional claimer, and on Wednesday the barn was just starting to sort out its options with Magdalena's Chase.

"We're going to try and scout around and find a sprint stakes for her somewhere," said Evans.

Stormin Baghdad makes return

Stormin Baghdad will make his first start since February 2008 in the ninth race Friday night. The five-furlong turf allowance also drew the multiple stakes winner Orphan Brigade.

Stormin Baghdad hasn't run since making his turf debut, which was a second by a length to Euroears in the $100,000 Colonel Power at Fair Grounds. Asmussen has given the mount to Luis Quinonez.