03/16/2005 12:00AM

Summerly probable for the Ashland


NEW ORLEANS - Summerly added to her reputation last Saturday with a cruise-control victory in the Fair Grounds Oaks.

The track had been souped up to favor speed over the course of the week and played to Summerly's strengths as she loped along on the lead through a 49.04-second half-mile in the 1 1/16-mile race.

Trainer Steve Asmussen now has to weigh the fact that the race didn't take anything out of her. When asked earlier this week if Summerly got enough out of the race, Asmussen smiled.

"She got everything she possibly could out of the race," he said. "$180,000!"

That was the winner's share of the $300,000 purse.

Asmussen was delighted that the race was so easy for Summerly.

"It's the best possible scenario," he said. "She won, and it didn't take anything out of her, so she'll be fresh for her next race. If this race had been hard on her we might have had to rest her and skip the Ashland at Keeneland, but she will probably run in that race now if she feels as good as she feels today."

Jockey Jerry Bailey handled Summerly confidently in his first ride on her.

"I was slightly concerned that another filly might break sharply and he would have to hustle her early," said Asmussen, "but that has yet to happen to her. She just falls out of the gate onto the lead without prompting."

Asmussen has Summerly right where he wants her.

"I love my options," he said. "She has such a docile demeanor. She's the friendliest graded-stakes winner I've ever been around."

Crimson Stag may soon try tougher

One morning before the Louisiana Derby, Dallas Stewart was in his office talking about how Storm Surge was coming up to the race when he stopped and stared at a picture of Crimson Stag on his wall.

"You know," he said, shaking his head, "there's no telling how good that one might be."

Crimson Stag has been making a living beating Louisiana-bred competition, and comes into Saturday's Gentilly Handicap off three consecutive stakes wins. The turf race will be 3-year-old Crimson Stag's last start against restricted runners for a while; after that, he is likely to test deeper waters.

"We've got to find out sooner or later how good he is," said Stewart. "He's already proved he can go a mile and a sixteenth. Hopefully, we'll get him through the Gentilly with a win, and then we'll think about sending him into one of the remaining Derby prep races."

Colorful Judgement out of Muniz

Trainer Mark Frostad has decided against running Colorful Judgement in Saturday's Grade 2, $500,000 Mervin Muniz Jr. Handicap. The 1 1/8-mile event is the premier turf race on the Fair Grounds schedule.

Frostad didn't like the way Colorful Judgement reacted to the peculiarities of the grass surface here. A graded stakes winner, Colorful Judgement never got untracked here this winter, finishing out of the money in the Col. E.R. Bradley Handicap and the Fair Grounds Breeders' Cup Handicap.

"It just didn't set up for him at this meet," said Frostad. "Every time we run him there's no pace. He's a nice horse, but he's a one-run horse and he needs some pace to run at, but they don't seem to run that way here. He likes the track up at Woodbine a lot more."

Colorful Judgement's defection leaves a probable field of 10 for the Muniz, with two more on the fence. G P Fleet (117), America Alive (116), Honor in War (117), Rapid Proof (115), and Candid Glen (115) have been competing against each other in various combinations all meet and are all expected to run in the Muniz. Shippers include highweight A to the Z (121), the Bobby Frankel-trained Burning Sun (116), and European Group 3 winner Salford City (114). Social King (114) and Doctorate (113) are also expected to go. Warleigh (117) and Wire Bound (116) remain possibilities.

* Cape Town Lass tops a field of older fillies and mares in Friday's feature race, a $35,000 allowance at 1 1/16 miles on the grass. Sheer Luck, Unbridled Echo, and Kalahari Cat appear to be her main rivals.