05/27/2011 4:03PM

Lone Star: Asmussen loaded for bear on Million Day

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Churchill Downs/Reed Palmer Photography
Thiskyhasnolimit, winning last year's Matt Winn at Churchill Downs, is trainer Steve Asmussen's contender in the Grade 3 Lone Star Handicap.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas – Lone Star Million Day has traditionally been a big afternoon for trainer Steve Asmussen, who in 2004 won four of the six stakes that make up the richest Thoroughbred card in Texas.

Monday, he will be hoping for more Memorial Day success. Asmussen has starters in three of this year’s Million Day stakes, chief among them Thiskyhasnolimit in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap. Asmussen’s other stakes starters will be Expansion in the $150,000 Dallas Turf Cup and Awesome Bet in the $200,000 Lone Star Derby.

MEMORIAL DAY RACING: Stakes schedule, contender replays, and news updates

“This is home,” said Asmussen, the current North American leader in wins who lives near Lone Star. “You hope to have horses that suit these races.”

The Lone Star Handicap is the richest of the six stakes that together are worth $1 million. It drew a field of five older horses when entries were taken on Friday, among them Grade 1 winners Game On Dude and Awesome Gem. The stakes winners Flat Out and Lydia’s Last Step complete the field for the 1 1/16-mile race, which will go as the ninth on a 10-race card, with a scheduled post of 5:19 p.m. Central.

Thiskyhasnolimit will break from post 2 under Justin Shepherd, who rode the horse for the first time last month and guided him to a half-length win in the Grade 3, $200,000 Texas Mile at Lone Star. Thiskyhasnolimit stalked and pounced in the April 23 race, and for the effort earned a career-high Beyer Figure of 103.

“I thought that Justin rode him really well the other day,” Asmussen said of Thiskyhasnolimit. “He used to be overly aggressive in his races when he was younger, and then for a while we had him too far back. Hopefully, we found a happy medium with him now.”

Thiskyhasnotlimit is weighted at 119 pounds, and is the 2-1 second choice on the morning line put out by Lone Star handicapper Rick Lee. Game On Dude is the 6-5 favorite, and is also the race’s 123-pound highweight. The winner of the Grade 1 Santa Anita Handicap in March, he will break from post 4. Trainer Bob Baffert has given the mount to Martin Garcia.

Awesome Gem is in gate 3, and will tote 118 pounds, including jockey Robby Albarado. He flew in from Kentucky on Friday morning, landing at Love Field in Dallas at about 11 a.m. Central, according to Lone Star assistant racing secretary Jeanette Hughes.

Others aboard the flight were Flat Out, who will break from the rail under Cliff Berry; Dean’s Kitten, who is in town for the $150,000 Dallas Turf Cup; and Close Ally and Derby Kitten, who are entered in a competitive Lone Star Derby. A flight bringing the California-based horses, including Game On Dude, was scheduled to arrive Saturday in Dallas.

Wasted Tears, who is one of the nation’s top turf mares, will start her season in the Grade 3, $200,000 Ouija Board Distaff at a mile on the grass. She drew post 4 in the field of seven fillies and mares, and is to be ridden by Julien Leparoux. Wasted Tears last raced in November, and finished second in the Grade 1 Matriarch at Hollywood Park. She has been training forwardly at Lone Star for Bart Evans, who bred, owns and trains the mare who last year took the Grade 2 Jenny Wiley at Keeneland and Grade 2 John C. Mabee at Del Mar.

The Ouija Board will go as the fourth race, the first of the six stakes that will be run consecutively. It will be followed by the $75,000 Valid Expectations, a six-furlong race that drew eight fillies and mares; the Dallas Turf Cup at 1 1/16 miles; the $75,000 Cinemine for 3-year-old fillies at seven furlongs; the Lone Star Derby that for the first time is being run on the grass; and the Lone Star Handicap.

Forecasters are calling for a high of 93 degrees on Monday, with the lows in the 70s. There is just a 10 percent chance of precipitation, according to weather.com. Some of the stakes are scheduled to be broadcast on HRTV and TVG.

Million Day is the biggest card of the Lone Star season that runs through July 10.