07/27/2008 11:00PM

Fresh crop of juveniles bodes well for master craftsman

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They say nothing motivates a trainer more than a new crop of horses. After all, maybe the horse is in this new batch.

It's the juveniles that certainly inpire Christopher Paasch. Based in Southern California, Paasch, 52, has established a reputation as a skilled trainer of 2-year-olds. After a down 2007, things have picked up nicely for him this season thanks, again, to the 2-year-olds.

Paasch was born and raised in Rochester, N.Y., where some family members were involved with Standardbreds. While on leave from the Marines, at age 19, Paasch visited Finger Lakes with a friend. That was that. He was hooked.

After first being licensed in New York and Arizona, Paasch moved to Northern California, where he really commenced his training career in 1987. After a few years plying his trade there, getting pushed along by tough claimers such as Lyphard's Fan, Paasch found his way to Southern California and appears to have found his niche.

While it was the 3-year-old filly Collect Call who gave him his first graded stakes win in the 2001 Grade 3 Santa Ysabel (she also ran second in the Grade 2 Fantasy, Grade 2 Hollywood Oaks, and was third in the Grade 1 Kentucky Oaks), Paasch has made his name with 2-year-olds and figures to continue that trend this year. Paasch won top 2-year-old stakes during the 2002 Hollywood Park summer meeting with Crowned Dancer. In 2005 he really hit paydirt - he supplemented Diplomat Lady to the Grade 1 Hollywood Starlet and all she did was win smartly and pay a hefty $80.

Things are not nearly as surprising now when he does well with juveniles, particularly since he boasts two of the region's top 2-year-old fillies.

Cosmic Queen, a $320,000 purchase earlier this year, won her debut at Hollywood impressively and set a track record of 50.82 seconds for 4 1/2 furlongs, then was a solid third in the Grade 3 Landaluce there. His biggest and baddest filly, however, may be the confidently named Stardom Bound. This daughter of Tapit was purchased for $375,000 and closed furiously for second after a miserable start in her debut a few weeks ago. Despite her maiden status after one start, she might run next in Del Mar's Grade 3 Sorrento later this month.

Paasch also has a promising colt named Lahcotah. He purchased that son of juvenile champion Johannesburg for $150,000. Lahcotah will miss Del Mar, however, with tender shins that will delay his debut.

As far as purchasing 2-year-olds go, Paasch has a specific philosophy. He says doesn't look at the catalog or fret over the pedigree, but buys an "individual."

Of course, to pigeonhole Paasch as only a trainer of 2-year-olds would be inaccurate and unfair. He has, for the most part, solid numbers up and down the statistical ledger in terms of class, distance, and surface. He hits at 16 percent with both maiden claimers and straight maidens. His claiming and allowance numbers drop off some (4 and 5 percent, respectively) but he picks it back up when you look at stakes (13 percent) and graded stakes (11 percent).

In terms of surface, he hits at 18 percent on dirt, 12 percent on turf, and 7 percent on synthetic footing. His sprint and route numbers (10 percent and 16 percent, respectively) show he can crank them up to go short, or give them the bottom to go long.

Paasch has also been among the most vocal horsemen urging the California Horse Racing Board to mandate stricter controls on drugs. He recently addressed the board, applauding its mandate banning steroids.

"I would like to ask this board to make your ruling stricter," he said. "I would like you to look to set a standard in our country that everyone will watch and adhere to, because I think not only is the gambler watching, but the American public is watching."