Updated on 09/17/2011 11:03AM

Test looks ideal for Lady Tak

Email
NYRA/Adam Coglianese
Lady Tak (above) will have to be on her game to beat Bird Town and House Party, winner of the Nassau County and Prioress, in a typically tough edition of the Test at Saratoga on Saturday.

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. - The Test has been a race trainer Steve Asmussen had targeted for Lady Tak since she showed great promise earlier in the year. The Test has been a race Asmussen and Lady Tak's owner, Bill Heiligbrodt, have been obsessing over since Lady Tak was narrowly beaten in the Grade 1 Acorn last month at Belmont Park.

"When she got beat in the Acorn, we needed to win this race,' Asmussen said. "She deserves to be and needs to be a Grade 1 winner.'

Saturday's $250,000 at Saratoga may be the best opportunity for Lady Tak to become a Grade 1 winner. Lady Tak showed distance limitations in the Kentucky Oaks and came up a head short to the Oaks winner Bird Town in the one-mile Acorn, and the cutback to seven furlongs looks to be ideal for Lady Tak.

"When we ran her in the Oaks, she was the favorite but the distance was a question in my mind,' Asmussen said. "Of course, I want to run her seven-eighths; I think the race suits her extremely well. I feel very good how she's doing going into it.'

Lady Tak will have to be on her game to beat Bird Town and House Party, winner of the Nassau County and Prioress, in a typically tough edition of the Test. Five others were entered in the Test, which shares billing on the first Saturday card of the meet with the Grade 1, $500,000 Diana Handicap, scheduled to be run at nine furlongs on the turf. Both races will be shown live on ESPN during a one-hour telecast from 5-6 p.m. Eastern.

As good as Asmussen feels about Lady Tak entering the race, he was probably disheartened when Lady Tak drew post 2 while Bird Town drew the outside in the eight-horse field. Those positions were exactly the same as in the Acorn, a race in which Lady Tak bobbled out of the gate and was steadied between horses down the backstretch before rallying wide in the stretch and coming up a head short to Bird Town.

"She needs to be away cleanly, so she can grab her own spot,' said Asmussen, who will give Jerry Bailey a leg up Saturday.

Bird Town overcame a stumble to win the Kentucky Oaks in stakes-record time from off the pace. In the Acorn, she held off Lady Tak after dueling with Randaroo early.

Trainer Nick Zito opted to skip the Mother Goose and give Bird Town additional time between starts. Zito also has plans to wheel her back in the Alabama at 10 furlongs Aug. 16, so he wanted a fresh horse for the summer. Though he is targeting the Alabama, Zito said he is not using the Test as a prep.

"You got to realize the Test is one of the most revered and one of the most prestigious races in the country,' said Zito, who has won two races already at the meet. "It would be something special if she could do all these things. I'm sure a lot of people are going to favor Lady Tak because of the distance, but Bird Town is very versatile.'

Trainer Allen Jerkens won the 1992 Test with November Snow. Still, he says of the Test, "I don't think there's a tougher race in the world to win.'

The Test usually offers a fast early pace, which would suit House Party just fine. She came roaring from well off the pace to win the Nassau County and Prioress in her last two starts.

"I think whenever you can hold her back in the beginning she lengthens out a little at the end,' Jerkens said. "I'm thinking maybe she can stretch out later on. She doesn't have that Quarter Horse look that she used to have.'

A sharp workout by Final Round last weekend at Belmont Park convinced Rusty Arnold to run her in the Test. A fast pace, which she didn't get in the Acorn, where she was beaten only a length by the top two, could help her. She is reunited with Pat Day.