Updated on 09/15/2011 1:18PM

Blinkers on, colt sees the light


CHICAGO - With a 120-horse stable scattered across the country, half of Steve Asmussen's battle is keeping track of who's who. Well, not really. Asmussen is reputed to have an acute memory - he can rattle off the characteristics of all his own horses, and everyone else's, too.

Asmussen frequently shuttled to Saratoga this summer when the 2-year-old filly Cashier's Dream was on a Grade 1 odyssey, but back in Chicago he noticed the struggling maiden Don'tbotherknocking wasn't putting everything into his races. "He just didn't run through the wire," Asmussen said of the colt's race July 28.

On went a set of blinkers to help narrow the colt's focus, and Don'tbotherknocking, who lost his first eight starts, quickly won his maiden.

The victory came Sept. 16 in a grass race, and Asmussen, mixing blinkers and turf route racing, might finally have found the right formula for this horse.

"He seemed to handle the distance really well," Asmussen said of Don'tbotherknocking's 3 1/4-length win.

Don'tbotherknocking gets a chance to validate that performance Thursday in Arlington's feature, facing winners for the first time in an entry-level grass allowance that drew a full field of 12. He drew post 2 and switches riders from Rene Douglas, the runaway leader in the jockeys' race, to Eddie Razo. Douglas jumps off to ride Skipingo for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, who has been using Douglas on a majority of his starters here recently.

By Farma Way, a sire who has evolved into a strong turf influence, Don'tbotherknocking has never been worse than second in three grass starts. He has had a nice recovery period since his maiden win. He also has worked three half-miles since then, the last of which was especially sharp.

Skipingo, Skip Away's 4-year-old full brother, ran his best race in five starts at the meet when switched to turf Oct. 6, finishing second over a yielding course. He ranks as a contender along with Flamin' Jolie, a turf maiden winner here Oct. 6, and Mefistofele, who traveled to Kentucky Downs Sept. 23 and won a 12-furlong maiden race by seven lengths.

Te Deum, who makes his turf debut with first-time Lasix, could fuel exotic wagers at a long price.

Fifty Stars back in training

Fifty Stars, the Louisiana Derby winner who was injured in the Kentucky Derby, has returned to light training. Fifty Stars is currently stabled at El Primero training center in Laredo, Texas, a facility owned and operated by Asmussen's family.

Fifty Stars, who got his start at Arlington last summer, is scheduled to rejoin Asmussen at Fair Grounds this winter.

"He should be close to a race when he comes in," Asmussen said.