07/17/2013 2:50PM

Saratoga: Asmussen has strong contender in Schuylerville

Barbara D. Livingston
Bahnah, who won her career debut at Churchill Downs going 4 1/2 furlongs for trainer Bret Calhoun, will face the Steve Asmussen-trained Brazen Persuasion in the Schuylerville.

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SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. – Coming off a Churchill Downs meet in which he won 11 races restricted to juveniles, trainer Steve Asmussen comes to Saratoga with a strong hand to play in the sextet of 2-year-old stakes.

[SARATOGA 2013: Complete meet coverage, exclusive DRF videos]

In Friday’s Grade 3, $150,000 Schuylerville Stakes – the co-feature on the opening-day card – Asmussen sends out Brazen Persuasion, a filly with two starts, including a win at the Schuylerville distance of six furlongs. “If I get beat, it’s by a brilliant horse, but I like our chances,” said Asmussen, who won this race in 2008 and 2009. “I feel really good about her having a win at three-quarters, having two races. Nothing but talent in the race, I understand that.”

In her first race, Brazen Persuasion made the pace, opened up a two-length lead in midstretch, but was run down by Divergent View, who was making her second career start.

Brazen Persuasion, a daughter of Indian Charlie owned by Darren and Marilyn Pollitt, came back on June 29 and chased the pacesetting Whomping Willow before sailing past that one in midstretch to win by 4 3/4 lengths. She ran six furlongs in a sharp 1:09.69.

“She ran super,” Asmussen said. “Ran like she had a race.”

Brazen Persuasion will break from post 4 under Rosie Napravnik, who is winning at a 37-percent clip for the Asmussen barn this year.

Also in from Kentucky is Bahnah, who won her career debut at Churchill going 4 1/2 furlongs, beating Whomping Willow by six lengths. Two fillies from that race came back to win maiden special races.

Bret Calhoun, who trains Bahnah for Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, said the filly came in highly touted and did not disappoint.

“When they started breezing her, she showed quite a bit,” Calhoun said, referring to the people who had Bahnah on the farm. “When we got her, she wasn’t much to look at training, galloping, but when you breeze her, it’s a whole different story. She looked very talented from the first time we breezed her at Churchill. We did expect a huge race out of her first time out.”

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Bahnah will be stretching out from 4 1/2 furlongs to six furlongs but Calhoun said that galloping out in her first race she needed help from the outrider to get pulled up.

Trainer Todd Pletcher, a four-time winner of the Schuylerville, has the Stonestreet Stable coupled entry of Elena Strikes and Yes Liz, but it’s not definite both will run. Yes Liz, a daughter of Yes It’s True and a 3 3/4-length debut winner, would be running back on 16 days’ rest.

“From a physical and mental standpoint she took the race extremely well, that’s why were considering running her back on a little bit short rest,” Pletcher said.

John Velazquez will ride Yes Liz form post 6.

Elena Strikes, a daughter of Smart Strike, won her maiden nicely at Monmouth on June 22. Javier Castellano rides.

Jonesin for Jerry, Silver Valley, and True Blue Nation complete the field.

Should they win, Yes Liz and True Blue Nation would earn their connections a $100,000 bonus for winning a maiden race during the Belmont meet and then winning a graded stakes at a New York Racing Association track.