08/01/2001 11:00PM

Le Recherche has edge


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - Trainer Tom Amoss has said before that training Thoroughbreds is in great part about management: Put your horses in the right spot to win. It seemed that in the Saturday's $60,000-added Misty Isle Stakes, Amoss had picked a perfect spot for La Recherche, who won the $125,000 Lone Star Oaks the last time she raced.

Not so fast. Up-and-comers Twilite Tryst and Kiss the Devil and European import Peace Keeping will make the favored La Recherche work for her money in the Misty Isle, which is for 3-year-old fillies at 1 1/16 miles on turf.

Still, La Recherche, a Sky Classic filly owned by Jill and Mark Winston, deserves to be favored, and Amoss has maximized his filly's chance by naming Robby Albarado to ride. Albarado appears to be at the height of his considerable powers right now, and since shifting his tack here two weeks ago he already has won 16 races to rank eighth in the Arlington jockey standings. Albarado has ridden La Recherche four times, winning on her in a Fair Grounds allowance start and finishing second in two other races.

La Recherche strictly raced on the lead earlier in her career, but gradually has learned to settle behind the early pacesetters and should get a stalking trip Saturday.

With a win at Hawthorne and two at Arlington, Twilite Tryst is a perfect 3 for 3 since switching to grass this spring for trainer Hugh Robertson and owner Regatta Stable. Asked if the filly's development was continuing, Robertson said, "I don't know how much better she can get."

Indeed, Twilite Tryst made three different runs in her last start, barely outfinishing Kiss the Devil in a stirring stretch duel here July 15. Twilite Tryst can be placed anywhere during the race and has a very nice turn of foot.

Like Twilite Tryst, Kiss the Devil moved way up when she began racing on turf for trainer Dave Vance, and her loss here last month was her first defeat on grass.

The Irish-bred Peace Keeping makes her U.S. debut for owners Don Jacobs, Gary Drake, and Bruce Barton and trainer Burk Kessinger, basically the same connections who won the Arlington Handicap last weekend with the Irish-bred Make No Mistake.

Asmussen barn snapping out of it

Not more than a half-hour after Steve Asmussen spoke about his Arlington slump Thursday, he showed the first signs of coming out of it when Lavaca won the first race on the Thursday card here. Three races later Asmussen struck again with Brewmaster. That gave Asmussen three wins in 32 starts at the meet, a pace that strikes a stark contrast with the year Asmussen has been having. The leading trainer at Fair Grounds and Lone Star already this year, Asmussen ranks second in the country in wins, with 175, and fourth in the country in earnings, with over $5 million.

As with all slumps, a convergence of factors led to the slow summer.

Asmussen ran hard at the Lone Star meet, which ended just last month, and he ran hard over the winter at Fair Grounds. With almost 150 horses in training, Asmussen has more reserves than almost any other trainer, but even his ammunition gets low after awhile. And the stock that he has ready to run at Arlington isn't the "A" team, either. There have been only a handful of allowance runners and a smattering of 2-year-olds, with many more lower-level conditioned claimers.

Then there's bad luck, which plays a part in every slump. Wednesday, Asmussen ran heavily favored Secret Session in an allowance race, and the colt was in traffic the whole way around the track. "When you really need it, you don't get it," said Asmussen.

"The horses I've run are part of it," he said, noting that a lot of his 2-year-olds "are later-developing. And I'm just sorting out a bunch of horses right now.

"The good thing is this meet's run through Oct. 28. I'll have a chance to rebound."

* Where's Taylor, bound for a start in the Atto Mile, worked five furlongs in 1:03.40 here Thursday. The track was slow during morning workouts.