07/22/2010 3:18PM

Chipshot is Asmussen's pick for Sanford


SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Trainer Steve Asmussen had the option of running his top 2-year-old prospect Kantharos in Sunday’s Grade 2 Sanford. And while the trainers of the seven other juveniles who entered the Grade 2 dash may have breathed a sigh of relief when Kantharos’ name was not in the entry box when the six-furlong Sanford was drawn early Thursday afternoon, Asmussen may still have the one to beat when he sends out Chipshot in the first of three graded stakes for 2-year-old males to be decided at Saratoga this summer.

Kantharos is currently considered among the leading juveniles in the country after opening his career with a pair of one-sided victories, including the Grade 3 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs earlier this month. But Asmussen opted to pass the Sanford to await a possible start in the Saratoga Special here on Aug. 16.

Chipshot encountered bad luck in each of his first two starts before leading throughout to win his maiden by 2 1/4 lengths at Monmouth Park on June 6. He has trained well for his stakes debut, completing his preparations with a bullet five-furlong work in 1:00.40 over the Oklahoma training track on July 12.

“We were extremely disappointed with his first race at Keeneland, because we had liked him to that point,” Asmussen said of Chipshot. “I thought his second race was a quality race, and at Monmouth he won in impressive fashion over a quality group. He has a great mind and he has talent.”

Chipshot will break from post 5 with Shaun Bridgmohan to ride.

The remainder of the field, from the rail out, includes Maybesomaybenot (Julien Leparoux), Nacho Saint (Garrett Gomez), Bail Out the Cat, (Alan Garcia), Another Silver Oak (John Velazquez), Lou Brissie(Robby Albarado), Blue Right By (Calvin Borel), and Commonwealth Rush (Rajiv Maragh).

Lou Brissie and Blue Right By will run coupled as the Dogwood Stable entry, although they come from different barns.

Bail Out the Cat, who figures to be a slight favorite over Chipshot, exits an impressive maiden win in which he contested the pace before drawing off to a 2 1/4-length victory over a muddy track at Belmont on June 10.

Another Silver Oak won his only previous start at Delaware Park. Trainer Todd Pletcher will put blinkers on the son of Bluegrass Cat for his stakes debut.

The Sanford will be run as the ninth race on a 10-race program that includes four allowance races, including a mid-priced optional claiming event on the turf that drew a field of nine plus five also-eligibles.

– additional reporting by David Grening