06/13/2011 1:30PM

Indiana Downs: Great Mills one to beat in $200,000 Oliver Stakes


Great Mills will be shortening up to what may be his best distance when part of a full field of 12 in the $200,000 Oliver at Indiana Downs on Wednesday evening. The Oliver is a mile turf race for 3-year-olds.

Trained by Steve Asmussen, Great Mills will be making his fifth start of the season. A son of War Front, Great Mills won an optional claiming race at Fair Grounds in January and then didn’t start again until the 7 1/2-furlong Grindstone on March 12. He led throughout in that $59,000 race to score by a length.

In his two mosty recent starts, Grerat Mills finished second, beaten a nose, in the Grade 3 Transylvania at Keeneland on April 8 and fourth in the Grade  2 American Turf at Churchill Downs on May 6.

Scott Blasi, Asmussen’s longtime assistant, was plased by Great Mills’s effort in the American Turf.

“It was a very, very competitive bunch of horses and although he gave up the lead, he stayed on well at the end,” Blasi said.

Blasi thinks the Oliver is a good spot for Great Mills to earn his second win of the season.

“He came out of that race Derby week great and he has been training great,” he said. “I think the mile distance is a perfect spot for him. It is a great race to get him started for the summer.”

There is an abundance of early speed in the Oliver but that is not a concern for Great Mills, according to Blasi.

“He has had the lead in most of his races this year, but he can come from off the pace, he did it this winter,” Blasi said, referring to December and January victories at Fair Grounds in which he was kept off the pace.

Julien Leparoux will ride.

Should the speed burn itself out, Lil Bit O’Fun could pick up the pieces. Trained by Tom Proctor, Lil Bit O’Fun finished fourth two races ago in the Transylvania, beaten only a length. The gelded son of Langfuhr finished fourth in his last out at Pimlico on May 21 in the $100,000 James W. Murphy going a mile, but was well back off slow fractions.

Leandro Goncalves will ride once again.

An earlier version of this story incorrectly identified the sire of Great Mills as War Chant. He is a son of War Front.