05/31/2007 11:00PM

Asmussen's dynamic duo


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Steve Asmussen came to work one morning last week at Churchill Downs, and a thought struck him when he took a look at Curlin and Tiz Wonderful as they stood alongside each other.

"I thought, 'What a great position to be in,' " said Asmussen.

Curlin won the May 19 Preakness, but six months ago, Asmussen would have bet heavily that if any horse in his barn was bound to become a classic winner, it was Tiz Wonderful, an unbeaten winner of three starts last year at 2. But in mid-January, shortly after Asmussen returned from a six-month suspension for a medication violation and reassumed control of his juggernaut stable from assistant Scott Blasi, Tiz Wonderful rapped a tendon in his right foreleg while training at the Fair Grounds in New Orleans, eliminating the colt from consideration for the Triple Crown series.

Shortly thereafter, Asmussen began training Curlin after Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stables became a new partner in the colt. Stonestreet also owns Tiz Wonderful, and Jackson went looking for Derby action after Tiz Wonderful was injured.

"Him getting hurt probably made the Curlin thing possible," said Asmussen.

In recent weeks, Tiz Wonderful has been in steady training at Churchill, and Monday, he will have his first breeze.

"We've ultrasounded the leg four or five times, and he's 100 percent," said Asmussen. "There wasn't any surgery. When he hit the tendon, it caused some hemorrhaging, so we used a counter-irritant on it and allowed it to dissipate over time."

Asmussen said Tiz Wonderful has "two-minute-licked a couple of times already."

"He's been back to loping pretty strongly for a while now," Asmussen said, adding that he'd like to run Tiz Wonderful in the Jim Dandy on July 29 at Saratoga.

With both Curlin and Tiz Wonderful, Asmussen may have to worry about keeping them separated in major races.

"Like I said, that's the kind of position anybody would like to be in," he said.

Terry's tenure recalled

Through a tenure that began in the early 1980s and ended with his dismissal on Wednesday, Tony Terry handled a wide variety of tasks as publicist for Churchill Downs with an uncommon dignity while never panicking, even during the stress of Kentucky Derby week.

He liked to tell the story of how he once brought one of his two daughters to work with him on a particularly busy morning during Derby week, when he was running helter-skelter around the backstretch on a golf cart.

"It was 'bring your daughter to work day,' " he said, "and all she said was, 'Gosh, dad, your job is easy. All you do is cruise around in a golf cart and eat doughnuts.' "

Two more newcomers from Louisiana

The latest addition to the Churchill jockey colony just missed getting his first local win here Thursday, but the second-most-recent addition didn't.

Colby Hernandez, in from Louisiana as of Monday, was beaten in the last stride when riding 12-1 Realtime in the second race. Four races later, Randall Toups notched his first victory since arriving here in mid-May when he guided Watchful Cherokee along the rail for a winning rally at 21-1.

Hernandez, 17, and Toups, 18, both hail from Louisiana, joining what already had been an inordinately large corps of Churchill jockeys with Cajun roots. They join fellow Louisianans Calvin Borel, Robby Albarado, Mark Guidry, Jamie Theriot, Larry Melancon, Corey Lanerie, and Colby's older brother, Brian Hernandez Jr.

Saving stakes for big day

After three stakes here Saturday - the Aristides, Dogwood, and Opening Verse - Churchill will go two weeks without running another. June 16 is the next time for a stakes race - six of them, no less. Led by the Grade 1 Stephen Foster Handicap, the June 16 card will also include the Grade 2 Fleur de Lis, Grade 3 Northern Dancer, Grade 3 Jefferson Cup, Grade 3 Regret, and Grade 3 Mint Julep.