07/10/2009 11:00PM

Stars of Texas a big day all around for Asmussen


GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - Back in April, the management of Lone Star Park began making plans to honor the track's all-time winningest trainer, Steve Asmussen, at the meet that was upcoming. Saturday, things came together in a big way. Asmussen was feted as Lone Star's man of the year during a card in which he set a record for trainer wins in a meet and swept half of the four stakes that made up the $375,000 Stars of Texas Day.

"He's our man," said Lone Star spokesperson Dan Leary. "He's from here. He's reached a pinnacle at the highest levels nationally and internationally and we just wanted to honor and thank him."

The stakes portion of Stars of Texas Day opened with the $125,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes for 2-year-olds. Big Texas Daddy overtook a game Western Forum by three-quarters of a length to give Asmussen a total of 99 wins at the meet, enough to break the record of 98 that trainer Cole Norman set at Lone Star in 2003.

Big Texas Daddy ($5.20) stalked the pace and closed well under Justin Shepherd, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in 1:03.70. Western Forum held second, 7 1/4 lengths clear of third-place finisher Range War. Big Texas Daddy is a son of Texas's perennial leading sire, Valid Expectations, and he races for Ackerley Brothers Farm.

"He was named after Valid Expectations," said Asmussen, 43, who also trained Valid Expectations for Ackerley Brothers Farm.

Asmussen's other stakes winner on the card came in the $125,000 fillies division of the Texas Stallion Stakes with Camille's Appeal ($11.40). She closed fast for a 2 1/4-length win, covering the 5 1/2 furlongs for 2-year-olds in 1:03.98. Shepherd was also aboard, one of five winners he had on the card, all for Asmussen. Camille's Appeal was making her first start for Asmussen after being purchased privately by Ro Parra.

Asmussen, who trained Curlin to back-to-back Horse of the Year titles in 2007 and 2008, is a resident of nearby Arlington, Texas. He won the Eclipse Award as North America's outstanding trainer of 2008, and currently trains Preakness winner Rachel Alexandra. She is a top candidate for 2009 Horse of the Year.

"It's been a great ride, and we want to continue it," said Asmussen.

Stakes double for Berry

Lone Star leading rider Cliff Berry swept the card's two stakes for older horses when he guided the 8-year-old Goosey Moose to a mild upset in the $75,000 Assault and Taptam rolled to a clear win in the $50,000 Valor Farm. Both races were for horses bred in Texas.

Taptam ($8.60) invaded from Churchill Downs and was prominent throughout in the one-mile Valor Farm for fillies and mares. She won by 3 1/4 lengths over Moneyinmywranglers and covered the distance in 1:37.32.

"She finished great," said Berry, who was aboard for Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch and trainer Bret Calhoun.

Goosey Moose ($10) stalked the pace and went on to a 2 1/4-length win in the Assault. He covered 1 1/16 miles in 1:44.81. Goosey Moose also won the Assault in 2004, 2005, and 2007.

"I guess at 8, instead of peaking third off a layoff you peak fifth off a layoff," winning trainer Danny Pish said of Goosey Moose, who picked up his first win of the year in the Assault.

Pish co-owns Goosey Moose with Kenneth Collins.

* Attendance ontrack was 10,063. Handle on the 10-race card from all sources was $1,698,020.