12/20/2007 12:00AM

Sok Sok leads Asmussen's sprint brigade

EmailFair Grounds came up with a goofy moniker for a new multi-stakes day on the schedule, but now that the four sprint stakes have been assembled, couldn't the afternoon be renamed Steve Asmussen Sprint Saturday, instead of Santa Sprint Saturday?

Asmussen not only has a horse for all four stakes on the Saturday card, he appears to have the best horse in at least three of them.

That includes the $100,000 Sugar Bowl, a six-furlong race for 2-year-olds, in which Asmussen will send out Sok Sok, who should be solidly favored to notch his third career victory. Sok Sok won his career debut at Churchill by three lengths and finished a troubled fourth behind Ready's Image, Take of Ekati, and The Roundhouse in the Sanford at Saratoga. He won over a Tapeta synthetic surface in a $100,000 Presque Isle Downs stakes, and has been aimed toward the Sugar Bowl since coming home an even fourth of nine in the one-mile Iroquois on Oct. 28, his first start beyond a sprint distance.

"The Iroquois wasn't horrible, but it wasn't what I was hoping for," Asmussen said. "I think the sprint suits him, but it doesn't mean I won't run him a mile in the future."

Sok Sok was among Asmussen's first horses to arrive in New Orleans this fall, and he has turned in six published works over the track.

"He trains really well, always has," said Asmussen.

Seven others were entered in the Sugar Bowl, among them Ben and the Twin, who was ninth in the Iroquois after a sharp Keeneland allowance win, and Noble Hero, who also won big at Keeneland and flopped on the Churchill dirt.

Mikimoto's Mojo made a start at Keeneland himself, but his 11th-place finish in the Breeders' Futurity is a race best ignored.

"You can just throw it out the window," trainer Pat Mouton said. "The Polytrack, he didn't like that at all."

Mikimoto's Mojo easily won sprint races in his first two starts before showing less in two routes, and a return to one turn in the Sugar Bowl should suit him.

"Right at this time, he's probably a better sprinter," said Mouton.

Letellier: Blitzing spotted to win

Blitzing has run well in 3 of her 4 career starts, with 2 wins, and a close third-place finish in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Stakes at Saratoga. That other race?

"It was a Grade 1 at Saratoga, is the excuse I give for her," Asmussen said.

While Blitzing finished a distant sixth in that Grade 1, the seven-furlong Spinaway, she looks like a tight fit for the $100,000 Letellier on Saturday. Away close to two months after her high-class defeat, Blitzing returned to win an entry-level allowance race at Churchill, beating American County, who came back to win her next start by more than five lengths

"Off her winning that race, it was obvious what we were going to do with her," Asmussen said.

The obvious spot was the Letellier, and Blitzing has breezed like clockwork at Fair Grounds since the beginning of November. She has speed, but rateable speed, and simply looks better on paper than any of her 11 rivals.

Trainer Dallas Stewart has two for the Letellier, with Syriana's Song - second last out to American County - the more accomplished of the pair, but High Surf a twice-started Storm Cat filly with potential. Call the Posse, who will make her first start for trainer Josie Carroll, enters off consecutive wins over the Woodbine Polytrack.

Esplanade: Early speed abounds

Tres Dream will need pace help if she's to win the $100,000 Esplanade. On paper at least, the help is there for her.

From Cat on a Cloud on the rail, to Indigo Girl on the far outside, the Esplanade appears to be teeming with early pace factors - exactly what Tres Dream needs if she's going to get up in time to win over 5 1/2 furlongs.

"It's on the short side for her, but we're hoping the long stretch at Fair Grounds will help," Asmussen said, adding that if the opening half-mile is run in "44 and change, it'll suit us."

Tres Dream won her most recent start, a fourth-level allowance race at Churchill, closing up the fence into a moderate early pace for her third straight win on dirt. But it is her victory in an Aug. 3 six-furlong Remington Stakes that may be most pertinent to the Esplanade. Closing into a wicked half-mile time, Tres Dream drew off to win by more than five lengths.

Atlanta Highway was a game allowance winner over the track on Dec. 1 but needs to rate a bit more to repeat on Saturday. Saoirse Cat, like Tres Dream, should be running from well behind the early leaders. Chatham has won 2 of 4 over the Fair Grounds main track. And there is a slim chance that Cat on a Cloud outbreaks everyone and sails along on a clear lead from the fence.