09/01/2005 12:00AM

'Cocktails' has confidence to spare


Because Steve Asmussen has stables of horses at five different racetracks, the trainer expends a considerable amount of time and thought on who belongs where.

Considering the dozens and dozens of 2-year-olds that Asmussen oversees, the reasoning behind those placements comes after a high degree of experimentation and observation, and a lesser degree of guesswork. The obvious goal is to place a horse where she can maximize her abilities and earnings potential without overmatching, or being overmatched by, the opposition.

This matching-up process doesn't always work, of course, but in the case of a 2-year-old filly named Readyforcocktails, Asmussen has done everything right so far. By winning a July 17 maiden race at Ellis Park, then the Aug. 14 prep at River Downs for Saturday's $100,000 Bassinet Stakes, Readyforcocktails has remained unbeaten while learning some valuable lessons.

"I was very happy to see her settle and make her run" in the Bassinet prep, Asmussen said Thursday at one of his primary bases, Churchill Downs. "The Bassinet is a way stronger race than her first two, but after winning twice, she does have a lot of confidence going into this one."

, owned by the Team Victory syndicate managed by Mike Goetz, figures as the second wagering choice in the six-furlong Bassinet, which kicks off Cradle weekend at River in Cincinnati. A field of seven 2-year-old fillies was entered, with She Says It Best, winner of the Fisher Debutante at Ellis Park two weeks ago, likely to be the favorite.

Asmussen said that Readyforcocktails, by More Than Ready, will "really have to step it up" to run her record to 3 for 3.

"Timingwise, this race makes a lot of sense for us," he said. "After this, I'm sure we'll consider stretching her out."

Trainer Vickie Foley said that She Says It Best, who drew the rail, came out of her seven-length triumph at Ellis in such good shape that she couldn't resist running her back on relatively short rest.

"We thought it'd be a good opportunity, considering it's a $100,000 race," she said.

One more logical Bassinet contender is , whose trainer, Bernie Flint, sent out the one-two-four finishers in this race last year.

The Bassinet is carded as the 12th of Saturday's races in the familiar 7-and-7 arrangement with River's sister track, Thistledown. The Bassinet comes two days before River's showcase race, the $200,000 Cradle Stakes, highlight of Monday's closing-day card.