01/08/2007 12:00AM

Asmussen's return nears


Steve Asmussen's six-month suspension comes to an end on Wednesday, though where and when Asmussen's first starter will come remains uncertain.

Asmussen has been out of action since July 10, days after he declined to contest in court a six-month penalty handed to him by the Louisiana State Racing Commission. Asmussen was suspended because a horse he trained at Evangeline Downs tested positive for mepivacaine, a local anesthetic categorized as a Class 2 medication by the Association of Racing Commissioners International, meaning it is considered to have a high potential to affect performance. The horse, No End in Sight, finished eighth in a race on March 24 at Evangeline, and Asmussen was not present at the track when the violation occurred. He was held accountable under the trainer responsibility rule, and his appeal to the Louisiana racing commission was denied in June. Asmussen also was fined $2,500.

Asmussen, who lives with his family in the Dallas area, will have to be relicensed in order to begin entering horses in his name again.

Horses in the stable have run under the name of longtime assistant Scott Blasi in Asmussen's absence, during which Asmussen was not permitted to visit racetracks or communicate with his staff concerning day-to-day operations. Blasi wound up winning 198 races, his starters earning $6.71 million during his stint as head trainer

Many of the stable's best horses are wintering at Fair Grounds, which does not take entries on Wednesday.