06/05/2007 11:00PM

As usual, Asmussen big factor in filly futurity


Trainer Steve Asmussen will attempt to win the $100,000 fillies division of the Texas Thoroughbred Association Sales Futurity for the eighth time in nine years Saturday at Lone Star Park. He has qualified four fillies to this year's finale: Soar Above, Swamp Gator, Valid Lilly, and Value System.

Asmussen also qualified four horses for the $100,000 colts and geldings division of the TTA Sales Futurity, which will be part of the same card. Both restricted races are at five furlongs.

Asmussen's streak in the fillies division dates back to 1999, when he won the race with Maddie's Promise. He has proceeded to win all divisions since, with the exception of 2002. Asmussen's other winners came with Louetta (2000), Smoke Buster (2001), Bluegrass Sara (2003), Berdelia (2004), Covered in Clover (2005), and Miss Mary Pat (2006).

Valid Lilly should start as second choice Saturday to track-record holder Miss Missile. Valid Lilly won her trial by 1 3/4 lengths while racing on the front end. She rebuffed bids by rivals on both sides of her in the stretch. The trial race was May 24.

"I thought it was visually impressive," said Asmussen. "[Miss Missile] looks like the real deal. I mean, I don't know if we can hold her off. But Lilly's an excellent filly, has a great mind, looks like she's got a little in reserve. She seems very professional."

In her only other start, Valid Lilly won her career debut April 20. She is a daughter of Valid Expectations, a multiple Grade 3 winner that Asmussen trained. Valid Expectations is also the sire of two of Asmussen's other filly qualifiers, Soar Above and Value System, and two of his colts in the male division, Groomsman and Namesake.

"Groomsman, Namesake, that group is very similar to Valid Lilly," said Asmussen. "I love the Valids, their mind. I think they'll show up and do all they can do."

Groomsman won his trial in his career debut May 25. He is a half-brother to Grade 2 Peter Pan winner Postponed. Namesake was third in the fastest trial, and before that was third in a maiden special weight race at Churchill Downs.

Asmussen's final filly qualifier is Swamp Gator, a half-sister to Forrest G., the winner of last year's colts and geldings division of the TTA Sales Futurity.

Plans change for Tina the Tiger

Tina the Tiger was expected to be one of the top contenders in the fillies division of the TTA Sales Futurity following an 8 1/4-length debut win at Lone Star on May 10. But she did not qualify for the finale following a rough trip in the trials May 24.

Tina the Tiger finished seventh in her trial, won by Miss Missile, after breaking a bit slowly from an inside post in the five-furlong race. Tina the Tiger then veered to the outside rail for a brief while down the backside.

"When she got back into the race, when the slop hit her, she just went to bucking and crow-hopping," said Randy Mayfield, who trains Tina the Tiger. "That was it. That was done. I was sick. She came out of the race in tip-top shape, and we still have a couple of stakes here to look forward to."

Mayfield said the stakes goals for Tina the Tiger the remainder of the meet are the $125,000 fillies division of the Texas Stallion Stakes on July 7, and the $70,000 Silver Spur Breeders' Cup on July 28.

Turf debut for Admiral's Arch

Admiral's Arch, who was third last year in the Grade 3, $300,000 Lone Star Derby, will make his turf debut in the featured ninth race Friday night. The one-mile allowance is one of three high-end races on the card. There is also a turf allowance for fillies, and a $35,000 optional claimer for sprinters. Admiral's Arch is trained by Asmussen, and will be ridden by Luis Quinonez.

Mr. Smee, a winner of three of his last four starts, moves into open company in the eighth, an optional claimer at six furlongs. Tony McNeil has the mount for trainer Cheryl Asmussen.

In the seventh, Start a Revolution, Real Soup, and Kid Majic appear to be the top contenders in a 7 1/2-furlong turf allowance expected to produce starters for the $50,000 Lone Star Oaks on June 30.

* Jim Watts, a lifelong racetracker, died last week in Enid, Okla.