04/11/2005 11:00PM

Yessirgeneralsir finally back

Yessirgeneralsir (above) will be favored in the $50,000 Premiere Stakes for Texas-breds on opening night at Lone Star Park.

GRAND PRAIRIE, Texas - The knot sits on the outside of Yessirgeneralsir's left knee, obvious even to a casual spectator.

"A blind man would notice that one," said trainer Dallas Keen.

The blemish is the visual evidence of the knee surgery performed last fall to remove bone chips from Yessirgeneralsir's joint, but if the physical problem and its subsequent remedy are bothering him, there is no evidence of that in his training.

A 5-year-old gelding, Yessirgeneralsir will make his first start since last September when he runs in Thursday's $50,000 Premiere Stakes on opening night at Lone Star. This is the track where Yessirgeneralsir shot to prominence last season, winning the Lone Star Park Handicap by more than two lengths while still eligible for a second-level allowance race. After that, Keen and owner Jim Jackson started throwing haymakers. They sent Yessirgeneralsir to Hollywood Park for the Hollywood Gold Cup, where he ran fourth, but a trip to Saratoga for a pair of graded stakes was far less fruitful, and Yessirgeneralsir was done for the year after finishing seventh in the Louisiana Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap, his first start on turf.

"He'd been battling a chip in the knee that I knew was there," said Keen. "We felt like it was worth taking out and giving him time."

Yessirgeneralsir has sizzled in his last four workouts, all of which have been bullets.

"Fast horses work fast," said Keen. "We're not asking him to do that; he's doing that on his own."

Keen said the Premiere is meant to set up Yessirgeneralsir for a start in the April 30 Lone Star Mile, a race in which he finished third in 2004.

Norman vs. Asmussen again

The Cole Norman barn at Lone Star was completely deserted early this week, but the Normans will be here soon.

When he is finished shipping horses in from Oaklawn Park and parts closer by, Norman will have a full complement of 50 horses on the grounds, and then it will be time to resume the annual battle with trainer Steve Asmussen, who rules the Lone Star roost.

"I'll have 50 here," said another powerful trainer, Donnie Von Hemel. "And I'll probably finish a bad third in the standings."

Asmussen, who seems to be feted at Lone Star about every other day at this point, also has 50 Lone Star horses, plus reserves at the family farm near Laredo and a 46-horse stable at Louisiana Downs. The Lone Star group includes about eight 2-year-olds at this point, along with the knockout starter-allowance horse Skip Irish and Paz Ciudadana, who runs here Saturday in the $75,000 Irving Distaff. As many as 14 horses could start in the race, carded at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, including the defending champion, Janeian.

Paz Ciudadana, a Chilean import, won her lone start since shipping into Asmussen's barn from Southern California, scoring an allowance race at Fair Grounds by more than three lengths March 11.

"With the tight turns here and her acceleration, I think this race should be perfect for her," Asmussen said.

Gold Storm to Ford Express

Not only is Gold Storm stabled in Bubba Cascio's Lone Star barn, he is likely to make his next start here, Cascio said this week.

In choosing the Lone Star race, the Ford Express Stakes, Cascio is passing up the Count Fleet at Oaklawn, the Commonwealth Breeders' Cup at Keeneland, and other graded stakes in which Gold Storm probably is good enough to compete. But Cascio said he still has plans to run Gold Storm in that kind of race.

"I'd like to take him to the Bing Crosby at Del Mar if I can," said Cascio, who also said that a return trip to the Breeders' Cup Sprint, held at Belmont Park this year, is in the plans.