07/01/2004 12:00AM

Ready to Live goes for hottest trainer


Trainer Steve Asmussen is in an excellent position to pick up his sixth 2-year-old stakes win of the year Saturday, with Ready to Live in the $50,000 Rebel Stakes at Louisiana Downs.

And it's only July.

For Asmussen, it has been the year of the 2-year-old. He has won a phenomenal 33 juvenile races around the country through Wednesday night, with his 2-year-olds accounting for more than $1 million in purse earnings. Asmussen has a 5-for-14 record in juvenile stakes this year, winning major races in Kentucky and Texas.

"So far it's been our best year ever with 2-year-olds," said Asmussen. "It's been crazy."

Ready to Live should be favored in the Rebel, where she will meet five other fillies over 5 1/2 furlongs. She was a sharp debut winner on April 21, when she rallied from a stalking position to win a maiden special weight race at Lone Star Park.

That race has turned out to be a key one, with the second- and third-place finishers returning to win their next start. Ready to Live, however, has not raced since, simply because there were no races for such an early, open-company winner.

"There's been nothing for her," said Asmussen. "She wasn't eligible for the Sales Futurity [at Lone Star Park]. This is the first spot she's been able to run in since."

Ready to Live appears to have a good amount of speed to chase in the Rebel, and is well drawn to the outside of all of her rivals, in post 6. She will add Lasix for the race, and gets the services of leading rider Lonnie Meche.

Ready to Live was the first starter and first winner for her sire, Grade 1 winner More Than Ready, and is owned by Bongo Racing Stable.

Her chief rival appears to be Maid in China, who was also the first starter and first winner for her sire, B.J.'s Mark. Maid in China won on June 10, when she wired a field of Louisiana-breds at Louisiana Downs.

She gets her speed from both sides of her pedigree. B.J.'s Mark set three track records in this region, while her half-sister, Autobesarah, has placed in eight stakes and has earned $249,178.

Maid in China will break from post 3 under John Jacinto. Troy Young trains the filly for Valene Farms.