Updated on 06/29/2013 8:02AM

Churchill Downs: Asmussen, Ward juveniles go head to head in Bashford Manor

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. – From the first 25 races for 2-year-olds at the Churchill Downs spring meet, horses trained by Steve Asmussen and Wesley Ward combined to win 17 of them.

So it seems fitting that Asmussen and Ward will engage in a showdown of sorts as the meet winds toward its end Saturday night. Through Friday, Asmussen had rung up 9 wins in 2-year-old races to Ward’s 8, and both have major threats in the 112th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes.

In the first 22 races for 2-year-olds at the Churchill Downs spring meet, horses trained by Steve Asmussen and Wesley Ward combined to win 14 of them. So it seems fitting that Asmussen and Ward will engage in a tie-breaker of sorts as the meet winds toward its end Saturday night. Both trainers had sent out seven 2-year-old winners when the final four-day stretch of the meet began Thursday, and both have major threats in the 112th running of the Grade 3, $100,000 Bashford Manor Stakes on Saturday.

Asmussen is represented by the uncoupled pair of Gunroar and D’cajun Cat, while Ward counters with Hollywood Talent, one of his handful of impressive winners at the Keeneland meet. Hollywood Talent is from the first crop of Talent Search.

“We’ve been thinking about the Bashford Manor for him all along,” said Ward, who trains Hollywood Talent, a homebred Pennsylvania-bred, for Ken and Sarah Ramsey. “Mr. Ramsey was eager to show off Talent Search as his next good stallion, and this colt was one of my more precocious babies.”

Hollywood Talent will have John Velazquez aboard when breaking from post 3 in a field of seven in the six-furlong Bashford Manor. Hollywood Talent has had five recorded workouts at Keeneland since his 3 1/2-length debut triumph on April 19.

Of the Asmussen pair, D’cajun Cat (post 6, Rosie Napravnik) surely will draw considerable betting attention after getting a 75 Beyer Speed Figure in his 5 1/4-length debut victory. Gunroar (post 1, Corey Lanerie) earned a 53 in prevailing by a neck early in the meet in his only start.

Napravnik’s agent, Steve Bass, said the standout jockey could have remained at Prairie Meadows to accept several top mounts Saturday night after she rode at the Iowa track Friday night, “But we committed to Steve early on to ride D’cajun Cat back,” said Bass, a former jockey himself. “He looks like a really nice colt and we wanted to stay with him.”

The other four in the Bashford Manor all step up with solid credentials.

My Corinthian (post 2, Luis Garcia) earned a field-high 78 Beyer in an eye-catching debut less than two weeks ago in Virginia; Debt Ceiling (post 4, Eric Camacho) is the only stakes winner in the field after taking the Rollicking at Pimlico for trainer Jerry Robb; and Runkle (post 5, Joe Rocco Jr.) and Sandbar (post 7, Shaun Bridgmohan) both exit the same eventful maiden race in which Runkle was disqualified from first, allowing Sandbar to be declared the winner.

The Bashford Manor, first run in 1902, hit its heights in the mid-1990s: Grindstone, the eventual Kentucky Derby winner, was fourth in the 1995 running; Boston Harbor, the eventual 2-year-old champion, was the 1996 winner; and Favorite Trick won during his 1997 Horse of the Year campaign.

Circle Unbroken, trained by Garry Simms, was the 2012 winner.

Post time for the Bashford Manor, the seventh of nine Downs After Dark races, is 9:05 p.m. Eastern.

◗ Stakes action gets started early on the Saturday program with the $65,000 Kelly’s Landing (race 3, post 6:56), a seven-furlong race that drew some familiar faces among its field of six.

Good Lord, an earner of more than $500,000 for trainer Forrest Kaelin, stretches out when favorably drawn in the outside post and looks like the horse to beat with Lanerie picking up the mount. Ghost Is Clear and Laurie’s Rocket look like the main competition in a well-matched group.

peter k More than 1 year ago
yes I know ward and muse but to me debt ceilings win was very impressive - leveled and took off - am going there