10/08/2010 3:33PM

Assessment tries longer distance in Premier's

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VANCOUVER, British Columbia – Assessment has a couple of things to prove when he runs in the Grade 3, $100,000 Premier’s at Hastings on Sunday.

The Premier’s is contested over 1 3/8 miles, and Assessment has never gone farther than 1 1/8 miles in his 31-race career. His biggest win came in the Grade 3 Longacres Mile last year, and he finished third in the Mile this year. Assessment was drawing off when he won the 1 1/8-mile Mount Rainier at Emerald Downs in 2009, and his trainer, Howard Belvoir, said he thinks the added yardage shouldn’t be a problem.

“He rates kindly, so I think he’ll get the distance,” Belvoir said. “The bull ring also makes the mile and three-eighths a little shorter. He always seems to be getting into trouble, but he’s versatile and can overcome adversity if he has to.”

Based at Emerald, Assessment also needs to show he can win outside the state of Washington. All of his wins have been at Emerald, and he has compiled a 0-1-3 record from 11 starts in Northern California. Belvoir shipped him to Hastings a couple of weeks ago, and according to former jockey Gerry Brownell, a clocker at Hastings, Assessment was very impressive when he breezed five furlongs in 1:01.40 last Sunday.

“He did it easily,” Brownell said. “He looks like a real race horse to me, and he obviously handled the track well.”

Assessment could be peaking at the right time. Following his win in the Mile last year, he was being pointed to the Breeders’ Cup Mile but hurt his ankle in a workout. He had surgery over the winter, and Belvoir said Assessment has been trying to play catch-up ever since.

“We have been a race or two behind at Emerald all year,” he said. “He came out of his last race in great shape, and he is doing real well right now. This will probably be his last race of the year.”

Belvoir will saddle Assessment in the Premier’s, but trainer Dave Forster has been overseeing Assessment’s training since he arrived at Hastings. Forster will be running Senor Rojo in the Premier’s. Belvoir said he wasn’t concerned about shipping his horse to a trainer he will be competing against.

“We go way back,” Belvoir said. “He was the best man at my wedding in 1971. We’re divorced now, but I don’t blame Dave for that.

“We also have the same style of training, and I know Dave will take great care of him,” he said. “The only thing is that I’ve been sending him horses for a long time, and he always seems to beat me. I did get him with Belle of Rainier a few times, though.”

Belle of Rainier’s most notable win at Hastings was in the 1982 Ballerina, in which Forster’s Au Printemps, who was coming off a win in the B.C. Oaks, finished third.

Forster said he likes the way Assessment has trained at Hastings, but said he thinks he can beat him with Senor Rojo.

Senor Rojo is coming off a sharp win over Spaghetti Mouse in the 1 1/8-mile Sir Winston Churchill on Sept. 26.

“Howard has a nice one, but I like my own, of course,” Forster said. “He’s been right there every time, and the only poor race he ran this year was in the Longacres Mile because the track was so bad. It was a loose, cuppy, bad racetrack, and he had a hard time getting hold of it. He’ll run over anything he can get a hold of, but he was struggling out there, and he came back sore in his ass-end. He’s doing fine now, though.”

Tommy Danzigger fit for Premier’s

Tommy Danzigger could salvage what has been a disappointing season when he runs in the Premier’s. Trained by Rob Gilker, Tommy Danzigger went to the sidelines after dueling with Teide in the 1 1/16-mile John Longden on June 6. He didn’t return to the races until Sept. 11, when he scored a front-running win over Charterhill in a $50,000 optional race.

Gilker said he is confident Tommy Danzigger is fit enough to go 1 3/8 miles off one race.

“He’s been training all along, and he gets himself ready,” Gilker said. “He just couldn’t compete for a while, and we had to take care of him.”

If Tommy Danzigger’s exceptional six-furlong work in 1:10.60 Sept. 30 is any indication, he is ready to run a big race. Exercise rider and assistant trainer Vicky Gilker was aboard for the move.

“He did it very easily, and he took off when I chirped to him at the top of the lane,” she said.