07/17/2008 12:00AM

Dryden out to test Southern Exchange


ETOBICOKE, Ontario - The imposing chestnut Dryden, who stands 17 hands tall, will try to hand Southern Exchange his first loss Saturday at Woodbine in the $150,000 Colin Stakes, a six-furlong sprint for 2-year-olds.

Dryden, trained by Steve Asmussen, made his only start in a five-furlong maiden special on Queen's Plate Day here June 22. Sent off at 4-1, he won by three-quarters of a length over Bucephalus, who came back to win the restricted Clarendon Stakes.

"He ran a very good race [Plate] Day," said assistant trainer Steve Flint. "There was a big crowd, but he kept his composure. He's always been very talented. He's a strong horse. For as big as he is, he's very athletic. Usually, those big, lanky horses don't show a lot of speed."

Flint said Dryden has trained forwardly leading up to the Colin.

"He's had a couple of good works," Flint said. "We worked him with an old stakes horse, Santana Strings [July 8]. They went in a minute and change, which, for us, is a typical comeback work. He galloped out well. We gave him a light little three-eighths [Tuesday] to put him on his toes. He seems in peak condition.

"Southern Exchange is the horse to beat, and [Dryden] has to improve. He doesn't make any mistakes, which is a big plus in a 2-year-old stakes. I'm very pleased with his progress. He's stood out among our 2-year-olds, and he just has to step up to the next level."

Asmussen also entered Star of David, who won on the dirt at Churchill Downs in his lone outing. He was supplemented at a cost of $3,000.

The Greg De Gannes-trained Southern Exchange won both of his starts from just off the pace. He got a 77 Beyer Speed Figure in his authoritative debut victory, and trounced a good field under Jono Jones in the five-furlong Victoria Stakes, while earning an 80 Beyer.

"He had stutter-step start in the Victoria, but he recovered quickly enough," De Gannes said. "I thought he showed a lot of maturity when he was down on the inside in behind horses. Jono said he was relaxed, and just sat there waiting for a cue. When they got to the quarter pole, Jono asked him to go past the leader, and he exploded away. He's got a tremendous turn of foot."

De Gannes is pleased with the way Southern Exchange has trained since the Victoria.

"He's done everything right," he said.