Updated on 09/16/2011 8:44AM

The sky's the limit for Posse


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The comforting part of having a stable the size of Steve Asmussen's is that even when something negative occurs, there tends to be something positive to focus on.

After being badly stung last week by the loss of his star filly, Cashier's Dream, Asmussen was the first to admit that he has little choice but to soldier on.

"Horrible," he said, in describing how Cashier's Dream died from complications of intestinal disease.

But even in the course of a quick conversation, his spirits were high when talking about Posse, a 2-year-old colt whose upside seems unlimited.

"This is a very talented colt," said Asmussen, who leads all North American trainers in wins and starts this year. "He's big, strong and fast. We're all really excited about him."

Posse, a Silver Deputy colt owned by Bill Heiligbrodt, figures to be a solid favorite Sunday when the 52-day Churchill Downs spring meet comes to a close. Posse was an impressive winner of the Kentucky Breeders' Cup in his last start, and assuming he runs well Sunday against six rivals in the $125,000 Bashford Manor, he will be on his way to the major 2-year-old events at Saratoga.

"Obviously we have to see how this race plays out before we start talking about which races we'll point for at Saratoga," said Asmussen.

Posse won his career debut by 13 1/2 lengths in April at Keeneland, then was third as the odds-on favorite in the Three Chimneys Juvenile on the Kentucky Derby undercard May 4. He then rallied from just off the pace in the May 27 Kentucky BC to prevail by 3 1/2 lengths.

"He'll be coming off somewhat of a layoff Sunday, so I expect he'll be sharp," said Asmussen, adding that rider Donnie Meche "will let him be wherever he's comfortable. Considering the way he's been training, I'd say he'll be pretty handy."

Probably the strongest challenger to Posse is Boston Park, a D. Wayne Lukas-trained colt who also has won two of three career starts. Lukas has won a record five runnings of the Bashford Manor, including four from 1996 to 2000.

The rest of the field for the Grade 2, six-furlong Bashford Manor is White Cat, Wild Bid, Lone Star Sky, Air Lordan, and Cooper Crossing.

First post for closing day is 1:10 p.m. Eastern. Four allowance races are also carded.

After two dark days, Kentucky racing shifts Wednesday to Ellis Park in Henderson.

Churchill for entries.

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