06/25/2013 3:09PM

Churchill Downs: Asmussen pair brings back class

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Tom Keyser
Sabercat, now 4, won the Delta Jackpot as a 2-year-old but is winless since then, losing eight in a row.

LOUISVILLE, Ky. – Whenever Steve Asmussen has an uncoupled entry in a given race – which is fairly often, considering how many horses he trains – he uses a standard policy when asked to comment publicly on which horse has the best chance to win.

“Keep your job,” he said with a laugh. “Remember you send the bill to both clients.”

That diplomacy came to the fore when Asmussen was asked whether he could choose between Awesome Bet and Sabercat, his uncoupled pair in one of the Thursday co-features at Churchill.

Awesome Bet, with Rosie Napravnik riding from post 2, is listed at 3-1 on the morning line, while Sabercat (Ricardo Santana Jr., post 6) has been pegged at 5-2.

“Both have a little back class,” said Asmussen. “I think how the race sets up will have everything to do with the outcome.”

The Asmussen horses are part of a field of six older horses in the third of nine Thursday races, a $57,000, third-level allowance at 1 1/16 miles. Flashy Sunrise (Shaun Bridgmohan, post 1) is the lukewarm 2-1 program favorite.

Awesome Bet, now 5, was a stakes winner at 3 and is seeking to end a 10-race losing streak. He most recently was a close third in a high-end claiming event won in wire-to-wire fashion by Big Town (post 5, Calvin Borel), who also happens to wheel back in this spot.

“I thought it was a very good race for Awesome Bet,” said Asmussen. “And I like his draw.”

Sabercat, now 4, won the rich Delta Jackpot as a 2-year-old. He, too, is winless since that stakes triumph, having lost eight in a row, one of which happened to be the 2012 Kentucky Derby, in which he ran 15th. In his last start May 24, he was third as the 2-1 favorite for these same third-level conditions.

Two other allowances also are on tap for the final Thursday of the spring meet.

In race 7, the speedy Honey Hues will take another step up the class ladder when she goes for her third victory of the meet in a $57,000, third-level allowance at a mile on turf. Dame Marie, with Napravnik riding, looms the chief threat.

In race 8, a well-matched field of 11 3-year-old fillies will clash under a first-level allowance condition going 1 1/16 miles on the main track. Liberated, Montana Native, and Smitten are the program choices in that $52,000 race.

First post is 12:45 p.m. Eastern.