Updated on 09/17/2011 10:26AM

Mr. Technique will employ new tactics

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Darren Rogers
Dynever arrives at Lone Star Park on Wednesday.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Trainer Jeff Bonde made adjustments to Mr. Technique's training equipment before his last race, and the result was a last-to-first win over 4-5 favorite Apalachian Thunder in the $100,000 California Derby at Bay Meadows.

On Saturday, Mr. Technique will try to defeat another heavy favorite, Dynever, in the Grade 3, $500,000 Lone Star Derby.

A change in training tactics helped lift Mr. Technique to a one-length win in the California Derby.

"He was carrying his head pretty high, so we went to galloping him in draw reins in between his last starts, and it made a difference," said Bonde. "We thought we saw improvement in our horse."

Draw reins can help teach a horse to lower his head. They create a pulley effect by being attached to both the bit, as all reins are, and the girth. When a horse carries his head high in draw reins, he pulls against himself instead of his rider. The result of the training can be a horse whose speed is easier to control.

Mr. Technique's three career wins have all come in stakes. He won his maiden wire to wire in a 5 1/2-furlong stakes last August, and in his next start won the $60,000 Mateo at the same distance at Bay Meadows.

From there, Mr. Technique twice finished fifth to top-class 3-year-old Kafwain in Grade 2 races at Santa Anita before traveling back to northern California and running eighth in the Grade 3 El Camino Real Derby and winning the California Derby.

Asmussen runs two contenders

Steve Asmussen has finished second, third, fourth, and 10th with four career starters in the Lone Star Derby. He has a capable pair for the race's seventh renewal Saturday, in Defrere's Vixen and On the Border.

Defrere's Vixen, bred in Colorado, faced some of the best 3-year-olds in the nation two starts ago when he finished fifth in the Grade 2, $750,000 Louisiana Derby on March 9. He was beaten five lengths by the winner, Peace Rules, and was only 1 3/4 lengths behind third-place finisher Funny Cide, who went on to win the Kentucky Derby.

A strong effort was expected of Defrere's Vixen in the Grade 2, $500,000 Arkansas Derby April 12, but he never got into the race and finished ninth.

"No visible excuses for the Arkansas Derby race," said Asmussen, the all-time winningest trainer at Lone Star. "You just knew he was in trouble about four jumps away from there. He just wasn't going anywhere. I'm hoping that he just didn't like [the track]."

Defrere's Vixen has since trained sharply at Lone Star, and will be ridden by leading rider Eddie Martin Jr. Defrere's Vixen races for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable.

On the Border, a winner of 3 of 5 starts, began his career in $10,000 maiden claiming company, but has since won two allowances.

"He's improved so much it's scary," said Asmussen. "Who knows where he'll top out?

"Winning has made him a different horse. He's never walked off into this kind of company, but he did beat older horses the other day, and ran relatively fast and looked good doing it. And it sure looks like distance isn't going to bother him."

Jeremy Beasley has the mount on On the Border for owner James E. Nelson. Defrere's Vixen and On the Border will run as separate betting interests.

Dynever arrives from New York

Dynever arrived from New York on Wednesday aboard a plane that also brought Crowned Dancer, Most Feared, and Grendel from Kentucky for the Lone Star Derby.

A plane bringing Desert Spirit from California was due in Thursday. The maximum 14 are expected to run in the Lone Star Derby.

* Some of the six older horses entered in the seventh race Friday night could advance to the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Park Handicap on May 26. Tops among them: Pie N Burger, Tee Cat, and Dynameaux.