06/29/2010 11:00PM

Assessment rounding into form


AUBURN, Wash. - Don't give up on Assessment just yet. While the horse of the meeting at Emerald Downs last summer has yet to win this year, it could be just a matter of time.

Assessment has earned $1,250 at the meeting, a far cry from his magical season of a year ago, when he captured three stakes, including the Grade 3 Longacres Mile, and banked $257,000.

In his first start of 2010, in the Seattle Handicap on May 16, Assessment finished fifth, 3 1/2 lengths behind Noosa Beach, after a wide trip under regular rider Gallyn Mitchell. Trainer Howard Belvoir was hoping that performance would be a springboard to winning effort in his second start, but Assessment returned to finish sixth, more than 15 lengths behind Noosa Beach, on a sloppy track in the one-mile Budweiser Handicap on June 20.

He is scheduled to run next in the 6 1/2-furlong Governor's Handicap on July 11, Belvoir said this week, as he builds toward a defense of his Mile victory on Aug. 22.

"He has trained really well," Belvoir said. "But that track was a sloppy mess. I thought about scratching him, but then I'm so far behind in his training, I can't catch up. Gallyn said he was slippin' a little bit, and he just coasted him home."

Belvoir said he could have as many as three starters in the Governor's Handicap. Wasserman, winner of the 2008 Longacres Mile and fourth in the Budweiser, is scheduled to compete, and Belvoir said he may nominate Mulcahy, who finished fourth in a $50,000 optional claimer last Sunday in his first start since September 2007.

Wasserman, 8, is getting long in the tooth, but Belvoir is confident he can muster at least one more winning effort. His performance in the Budweiser was a good starting point; he had finished fifth and eighth in two previous starts at the meeting.

"Wasserman got trapped in there and ate a lot of mud," Belvoir said. "He's getting old and needs more races, but they took a few out of the schedule this year and he's been behind in his training, just like Assessment.

"I thought Mulcahy ran super for being off two and half years and then trying to get ready through the mud. But again, I'm behind on him right now. He was a good horse before he got hurt, and he's still going to be pretty good."