08/21/2001 12:00AM

'Numbers' is worth watching


ARLINGTON HEIGHTS, Ill. - His stable is so massive and farflung that, more often than not, Steve Asmussen resorts to watching his racehorses from afar.

On Monday evening, for example, Asmussen was in Arlington's Trackside simulcast facility, keeping tabs on several of his horses in action at Louisiana Downs.

With nearly 200 horses under his care, winning races is just one part of doing business for Asmussen - so there was no whooping and hollering at Asmussen's table when Pemina triumphed as the odds-on favorite in the 10th and last race.

On Thursday, if Asmussen stays in town long enough, he will be able to watch live and in person as one of his better horses, Big Numbers, runs in the feature race, a $45,000 allowance for older horses. Three-other-than conditions govern the one-mile race.

Big Numbers, owned by Jim Cassels and Bob Zollars, has earned more than $190,000 from 21 starts, most recently finishing fifth in the Ark-La-Tex Handicap at Louisiana Downs. Two starts back, he easily won a second-level allowance at one of Asmussen's many stops, Lone Star Park. Having raced against stakes-caliber horses such as Dixie Dot Com and Duckhorn in the last year, Big Numbers, a 4-year-old Numerous colt, could have a slight edge in class when he lines up against seven rivals in the eighth of nine Thursday races.

Anstar, trained by Jerry Hollendorfer, and Sir Rascal, trained by Chris Block, rank among the top opponents. Also entered are Generous Rosi, Big Daddy Longlegs, Lil Mephistopheles, Freeway Ticket, and Saquache.

* Rene Douglas continues with a comfortable lead atop the jockey standings, having won 64 races through Sunday. Robby Albarado, a late arrival at the meet after riding at Churchill Downs through July 8, has overtaken Mark Guidry for second, 39-35. Guidry is riding at Saratoga. Albarado's win rate of 28 percent is tops at the meet.

* Arlington officials probably are looking at a short field for the lone stakes here this weekend, the $100,000 Arlington Sprint. With Bet on Sunshine expected to be a heavy favorite, confirmed as the 123-pound highweight, his opposition in the six-furlong race may include Robin de Nest, 116; Fantastic Finish, 114; Miners Gamble, 113; Proven Cure, 113; and Chindi, 112.

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