07/05/2004 11:00PM

Weekend cements Asmussen's lofty status


Last weekend kept getting better for Steve Asmussen. He became the first trainer to win 500 races at Lone Star Park on Saturday, after Star of Caveat's victory in the first, and later in the day recorded his sixth 2-year-old stakes win of the year when Ready to Live won the $50,000 Rebel at Louisiana Downs.

Asmussen picked up another juvenile stakes win Monday, when Lunarpal captured the $150,000 Bashford Manor at Churchill Downs. Not long after that win, he officially wrapped up the title in Louisville, Ky.

Closer to home, Asmussen's meet at Lone Star has been as productive. He will win his fifth training title at Lone Star, which is seven years old, when its meet closes Sunday. Heading into the races Thursday night, Asmussen had a 77-55 advantage in the standings over second-leading trainer Cole Norman.

"We have had a great meet," Asmussen said. "The 2-year-olds have run super, and that's a focal point of this meet, and we had a big Memorial Day, and that's another focal point of the meet."

Asmussen won four stakes on the Lone Star Million Day program on Memorial Day to bring his total of stakes wins at the meet to seven. He needs one more to tie the Lone Star mark for stakes win in a season by a trainer, a record Asmussen set in 1999.

He could break that record this weekend, when he sends out probable favorites Expect Will and Berdelia in their respective divisions of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes.

Both horses should be tough judging from Asmussen's record with juveniles this meet. He has won with 19 of 49 such starters, or 39 percent of the time at Lone Star.

Those kind of numbers are helping to fuel Asmussen's place atop the national training standings. He has won 302 races through Tuesday to top all trainers in North America and is closing in on a personal milestone of 2,500 wins. Asmussen had 2,459 career wins through Monday.