06/07/2005 11:00PM

Summerly: Can she run?


LOUISVILLE, Ky. - Steve Asmussen is reluctant to say who will ride Summerly if the Kentucky Oaks winner gets to run Saturday in the Dogwood Breeders' Cup Stakes. As a veteran racetracker, Asmussen does not want to jinx himself by making pronouncements or predictions of any sort.

"That'd be getting way ahead of what the reality is," Asmussen said Wednesday morning at Churchill Downs. "Why name a fictitious rider for a fictitious race?"

Indeed, Asmussen has been in a quasi-holding pattern for more than three weeks, ever since his 36-horse Churchill stable was segregated by quarantine restrictions that also affected Paul McGee, Bill Cesare, and Ronny Werner. But while the horses for those other trainers recently were cleared and are back among the Churchill horse population, Asmussen had four horses test positive for the equine herpes virus, meaning the return of his local string was placed on indefinite hold.

But after separating the four positive horses from the 32 that tested negative - a group that includes Summerly - Asmussen was informed by state veterinary officials that he could enter any of the 32 for Friday racing and beyond, assuming a round of blood tests drawn on Tuesday returns negative again.

"I've talked to the state about 20 times about this," he said, with only slight exaggeration.

With a first post Friday of 2:45 p.m., Asmussen hopes clearance comes early enough for him to run his horses then.

Perhaps the most pressing issue is whether clearance comes in time for Summerly to start in the Grade 3, $150,000 Dogwood, a 1 1/16-mile race that would be her first start since her two-length triumph in the Oaks on May 6. The Dogwood already is expected to have Atlas Valley, Culinary, and perhaps Runway Model as main contenders.

Summerly was ridden by Jerry Bailey in the Oaks, but Bailey will ride A.P. Arrow in the Belmont Stakes Saturday. Asked whether he still will try to make the June 25 Mother Goose Stakes with Summerly, regardless of whether she runs in the Dogwood, Asmussen said good-naturedly: "Let's don't even go there. I'm just trying to get through this weekend."

The Dogwood is the live feature here Saturday, but the Belmont Stakes simulcast also will be a major attraction for local fans.

Stephen Foster Day nominations

Nominations for the six stakes to be run here June 18, including the Grade 1, $750,000 Stephen Foster Handicap, were released Wednesday. The field for the 1 1/8-mile Foster is expected to include Badge of Silver and Saint Liam, both trained by Bobby Frankel, as well as Perfect Drift and Second of June. Weight assignments will be announced Saturday.

Badge of Silver and Saint Liam are booked on the charter flight that will return horses from Belmont Park to Kentucky and other westward destinations, according to Frankel's assistant, Jose Cuevas. "I think they'll be coming in Sunday or Monday," he said.

Top prospects for the supporting Foster Day races include Shadow Cast in the $300,000 Fleur de Lis Handicap, Don't Get Mad in the $200,000 Northern Dancer, Rush Bay in the $200,000 Jefferson Cup, Sweet Talker in the $200,000 Regret, and Senor Swinger in the $100,000 Opening Verse.

Turkish Cavalry horse to watch

A horse whose eye-catching rallies made him one to watch on the Southern California circuit has resurfaced in Kentucky, thanks to trainer Wally Dollase shifting his base of operations here.

Turkish Cavalry, a 4-year-old gelding whose two previous starts both came last year and resulted in victories from far behind, heads a full field entered in the Friday feature at Churchill, a $53,300 second-level allowance at a mile on the turf. With Robby Albarado getting the nod from Dollase, who moved his entire stable to Kentucky in March, Turkish Cavalry figures as the favorite off those impressive wins.

Other logical contenders in the ninth of 10 races on Friday include Heroic Deed, with Rafael Bejarano to ride, and Saturday Deelites, with Mark Guidry named.

Claiming Crown preps

In conjunction with officials based at Canterbury Park, Churchill is offering a series of prep races over the next week or so for the seventh annual Claiming Crown, to be run July 16 at Canterbury in Shakopee, Minn.

Seven preps, one for each of the Claiming Crown events, were to be run here from Thursday to Thursday (June 9-16). The winners are guaranteed a starting spot in the Claiming Crown, for which nominations have already closed.

Churchill is the only track using such preps. In previous years, participating tracks have included Lone Star, Prairie Meadows, and Turf Paradise.

* King of Jazz had his first breeze since winning a Churchill allowance race, going a half-mile Monday in 50 seconds. Trainer Carl Nafzger hopes to run King of Jazz on June 26 in the Queen's Plate at Woodbine.