05/27/2011 1:25PM

Churchill Downs: Asmussen has two more live ones


LOUISVILLE, Ky. – When Steve Asmussen has his Hall of Fame plaque enscribed in the near future, it probably won’t include how many times he won the Churchill Downs training title. There’s just too much other stuff to cram onto limited bronze, such as his deeds with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra and his thousands of victories at tracks throughout North America.

For the record, Asmussen is a nine-time leading trainer at Churchill, but that number could be subject to perpetual change for the foreseeable future. The 2011 spring meet might well become the 10th for Asmussen, who becomes eligible for Hall induction next year after 25 years of training, because although he entered Friday action in a tie for first with two other trainers, the vast number of horses at his disposal always makes Asmussen the one to beat.

The Sunday card at Churchill is a pretty fair example of how Asmussen just keeps coming at you. Three allowances anchor a 10-race program, and the 45-year-old Texan has top contenders in two of them.

The first allowance (race 7), a $53,500, second-level sprint for fillies and mares, marks the return of Simple Words, a homebred 4-year-old who boasts two triple-digit Beyer Speed Figures from just six career starts. Simple Words, away for nearly eight months, will break from post 1 under Kent Desormeaux as the 8-5 morning-line favorite in a field of seven.

“She’s a very fast filly, and we’re just trying to get her started back,” said Asmussen. “I don’t like that we got the 1 hole, but actually I’m just glad the race filled.”

In the third allowance (race 9), a $51,000, first-level sprint for 3-year-olds, Asmussen steps up with Cornpiper, winner of a spill-marred maiden race at Santa Anita in April in his only attempt. Desormeaux also has the mount on Cornpiper, a son of Indian Charlie.

“It looks like a tough spot, but he’s a nice colt,” said Asmussen.

The middle allowance (race 8) is a $51,000, first-level turf route in which Twojohnsandajack, Estimate, and King’s Command should vie for favoritism in a well matched group.

Two days of stakes action

The Sunday trio of allowances is bookended on the Memorial Day weekend at Churchill by a pair of Grade 3, $100,000 stakes: the Louisville, for older turf marathoners, is on Saturday, while the Winning Colors, for filly-mare sprinters, rounds out a five-day race week Monday.

A field of 10 has been entered for the six-furlong Winning Colors, with Sassy Image, turning back from her upset victory in the Grade 1, seven-furlong Humana Distaff on Kentucky Derby Day, likely to come favored with Robby Albarado aboard.