06/24/2009 11:00PM

Lukas, Asmussen send pairs in Debutante


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - D. Wayne Lukas was enshrined in the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 1999, and Steve Asmussen will be eligible for induction in 2012. Their training exploits go far beyond the Debutante Stakes, but they have combined to win 10 of the last 23 runnings of the Debutante, or 43.5 percent.

Going a shade better, Lukas and Asmussen account for 44.4 percent of the nine-horse field in the Grade 3, $100,000 Debutante, which will be run for the 109th time Saturday at Churchill Downs. Lukas, who won his first of a record six Debutantes in 1986, has entered Tidal Pool and Decelerator, while Asmussen, who won four runnings from 2001-07, has countered with Kinsolving and Wild Forest Cat.

Five other 2-year-old fillies fill out the cast for the six-furlong Debutante, and several of those sport an interesting look. Henry's Posse and Phone Marybe were very impressive in winning their lone starts in Maryland and Florida, respectively, while Brown Eyed Baby looked sharp in a May 25 maiden score at Churchill for the Borel brothers, trainer Cecil and jockey Calvin.

But the percentages favor Lukas or Asmussen piling on. The question that follows, of course, is which of the four?

Churchill fans are likely to lean toward Decelerator for at least a couple of reasons. The Dehere filly earned an 88 Beyer Speed Figure, highest in the Debutante field, here May 14 in winning her only start, and she has attracted the leading rider at the Churchill spring meet, Julien Leparoux.

Wild Forest Cat could be a close second choice. She earned an 84 Beyer as an odds-on winner in a Churchill maiden dash over a field that included Brown Eyed Baby, who subsequently came back to win easily.

Asmussen most likely will have to watch a replay of the Debutante as he will be at Belmont Park in New York to send out Rachel Alexandra in the Mother Goose Stakes just minutes before the Debutante is run at 5:29 p.m. Eastern.

The Debutante, the 10th of 11 Saturday races, is the lone stakes here this weekend.