11/18/2004 12:00AM

Leaving on My Mind eyes five stakes in row


Leaving on My Mind will attempt to win his fifth straight stakes race Saturday night in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile, but his streak is not the only element of suspense surrounding Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston Race Park.

Trainer Steve Asmussen has been working toward breaking a 28-year-old record for victories in a year in North America, and there is a chance he could set the record on this card, in which he will start 14 horses, 12 in stakes.

There are nine stakes on the card, worth a cumulative $625,000. The program is the richest of the meet at Sam Houston, and the action will start an hour earlier than usual, as the track has moved up first post for the 11-race card to 6 p.m. Central, the better to capture simulcast players in the East.

The lone open-company race is the 1 1/16-mile Juvenile, but its favorite will be a Texas-bred in Leaving on My Mind. He has won four stakes in his last four starts, and although his pedigree is slanted toward sprinting, two of those wins came in two-turn races. He is owned by his breeder, George Wolff, and is trained by Danny Pish.

"He's certainly figured two turns out," said Pish. "He's figured out the configuration of a two-turn race, and that can be a big issue for a lot of horses. Distance is one aspect of it. Configuration confuses some horses."

Leaving on My Mind placed in two sprint stakes before winning his maiden in a turf route at Retama on Aug. 22. He later won the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at six furlongs, and in his first dirt route defeated open company in the $100,000 Middleground at Lone Star Park on Oct. 3.

Leaving on My Mind's last start was a five-length romp in the $100,000 Jean Lafitte at Delta Downs on Nov. 6. He is scheduled to return to Delta next month for the $1 million Delta Jackpot.

For now, however, Leaving on My Mind needs to get a stalking trip from the rail in the Juvenile, which drew nine. He will be ridden by Roman Chapa, who won this race last year with the filly America America.

Asmussen's representative in the Juvenile - which he has won with eventual Triple Crown starters Fifty Stars and Snuck In - is El Batallon. In his last start, the colt was fourth in the $100,000 Lone Star Juvenile on Oct. 30. Donnie Meche has the mount.

The field also includes Major League, the Paul Murphy trainee who won the $75,000 Harrah's Juvenile.