05/15/2009 11:00PM

Nuclear Wayne rested and ready for Jacobs


BALTIMORE - Trainer Steve Asmussen won the 2008 Hirsch Jacobs Stakes with Lantana Mob. The race's 2009 edition looks stronger than last year's - but Asmussen's entrant this year might be better, too.

Nuclear Wayne lost his career debut last fall on Keeneland's Polytrack, but has two powerful wins on dirt, a 3 1/4-length maiden win in an off-the-turf race last November at Fair Grounds, and a 1 3/4-length entry-level allowance score there on Jan. 17. Nuclear Wayne, a $650,000 Mineshaft yearling owned by Jess Jackson's Stonestreet Stables, has not raced since, but the break came about by design. Asmussen said over the winter that he believed Nuclear Wayne would be a better horse later in his 3-year-old season, and the colt was trained accordingly.

"We just backed off on him, jogged him for a while," said assistant trainer Scott Blasi. "He's a very strong horse right now, and I think this is a good place to get him started back."

Nuclear Wayne rates, and that looks like a good thing in the Hirsch Jacobs, a six-furlong Grade 3 worth $100,000 and restricted to 3-year-olds. Six of the nine entrants have led at the first call at least once in their career, and the early pace could turn hot. Stuck down on the fence is win threat Taqarub, who led all the way winning three straight to start his career. Taqarub bombed when sent from New York to Florida for the Fountain of Youth in February, but was back to better form when he was second to Capt. Candyman Can last month in the seven-furlong Bay Shore at Aqueduct. His return to a shorter sprint would feel more positive had Taqarub not drawn so poorly.

Just outside Taqarub is Everyday Heroes, a winner in his first three races, all at Oaklawn Park. Everyday Heroes ran through his first two allowance conditions there, and takes "the next logical step" up in class, trainer Tim Ritchey said.

"He's a very good horse, and he has the potential to be an extremely good horse," said Ritchey.

Twice Everyday Heroes has led, and in his other start he pressed the pace, but Ritchey said Everyday Heroes "can sit off the pace" if asked to.

Trainer Mike Trombetta has an unbeaten colt of his own, Despite the Odds, who won his first two starts, both at Laurel. Trombetta also entered Not for Silver, fifth in the Bay Shore.

Ju Jitsu Jack is a four-time winner, but faces tougher competition now. Yano was third last out in the Bay Shore, while Checklist finished fourth in the Derby Trial.