01/22/2009 12:00AM

Cash Asmussen running the show


HOT SPRINGS, Ark. - Cash Asmussen's name has begun showing up in the entries at Oaklawn, Retama Park, and Delta Downs over the past month - but not as a rider. The former champion jockey is now training after spending the past four years as an assistant and consultant to his wife, Cheryl Asmussen.

"Cheryl decided that she was going to promote me from assistant to trainer," Cash quipped. "She said, 'Listen, I can't handle an assistant like you. I can pay you what you're worth, but I can't afford to pay you what you think you're worth!' "

Joking aside, Asmussen seamlessly took over the family's 40-horse racing stable last month. His first win as a trainer came Dec. 11 at Retama, the San Antonio track that is close to his family's El Primero Training Center in Laredo, Texas. Soon after his initial win, Cash made plans to send a string of 15 horses to Oaklawn for the meet that opened Jan. 16. This spring, he expects to have a division of horses at Lone Star Park.

"We're happy to venture out," he said earlier this week at Oaklawn. "I've been here to ride. It's a wonderful meet. I didn't have enough opportunities as a pilot to come here, so I took this opportunity in another dimension."

Asmussen said his current stable is a mix of young horses and hard-knocking older horses.

"We've got just a few young horses we're going to run in the maiden races," he said. "We had a good 2-year-old year, and so we're waiting on the babies that are coming from the farm. We'll kind of see how they develop and see if we stay towards the Midwest or we venture a little farther east."

One of the best 2-year-olds Cheryl Asmussen had last year was City Style, the winner of the $150,000 Sunday Silence at Louisiana Downs who went on to finish a fast-closing fourth in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf. He was sold as part of a package by Stonerside Stable to Darley Stable before the Breeders' Cup, and has since been sent to Dubai.

Training is the latest chapter in a storied racing career that has taken Cash Asmussen from Texas to New York to France and back again. He was the Eclipse Award-winning apprentice in 1979, and went on to become a five-time champion jockey in France.

Asmussen, 45, retired in 2001, but not before getting a chance to ride for his younger brother, Steve, who is favored to win an Eclipse of his own on Monday. One of the most notable mounts Cash had for his brother was Snuck In, in 2000.

"I flew in from France to ride him in the Rebel and in the Arkansas Derby and in the Preakness," Cash said. "He won the Rebel and he was second in the Arkansas Derby. He ran a very good race."

Cash also won the Mountain Valley at Oaklawn on Valid Expectations for Steve in 1996.

Shippers galore in Retama Distaff

Invaders from Louisiana, New Mexico, and Oklahoma have descended on Retama for its $50,000 Distaff on Saturday night. The 1 1/16-mile race for fillies and mares drew a field of eight, with half coming in from out of state. Chief among them is Nice Inheritance, the winner of the $50,000 Lady's Secret at Remington in November.

She has raced once since that one-mile stakes, finishing second in a $100,000 optional claimer on the grass. Steve Asmussen owns and trains Nice Inheritance.

Ruling Class invades from Delta Downs, where in her last start she set the pace and finished fourth in the $100,000 Treasure Chest at a mile Dec. 5. Since that race, both the winner, Rolling Sea, and the third-place finisher, Zarb's Ballerina, have come back to win stakes. Ruling Class is cross-entered in Saturday Marie Krantz Memorial at Fair Grounds.

Barbette, who is adding blinkers, and Moneyinmywranglers, a multiple stakes winner, lead the locals in the Retama Distaff.

Adger gets lifetime achievement award

John Adger, the longtime racing and bloodstock manager for Stonerside Stable, was given a lifetime achievement award by the Texas Thoroughbred Association at its recent annual meeting in Fort Worth. Adger has served for many years on the board of the association. David Stephens, a veterinarian who has been active on the legislative front, was named member of the year by the group.

* Rachel Alexandra, the winner of the Grade 2 Golden Rod at Churchill Downs in November, breezed a half-mile in 47.80 seconds at her Oaklawn base on Thursday.