Hall of Famer and soon-to-be 10-time Oaklawn training champion Steve Asmussen will be active on the Kentucky Oaks and Kentucky Derby cards at Churchill Downs, sending out several stakes winners from Hot Springs.
In addition to first-division Rebel winner Long Range Toddy in Saturday's Kentucky Derby, Asmussen is scheduled to start Lady Apple in Friday's $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1), She's a Julie in Friday's $500,000 La Troienne Stakes (G1), Mitole in Saturday's $500,000 Churchill Downs Stakes (G1) and Mia Mischief in Saturday's $500,000 Humana Distaff Stakes (G1).
Lady Apple emerged as the top 3-year-old filly this year at Oaklawn, capping a 3 for 3 campaign in the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) April 12. The daughter of two-time Horse of the Year Curlin slipped through along the rail under Ricardo Santana Jr. to win the 1 1/16-mile race by a length over Kentucky Oaks-bound Motion Emotion.
“Lady Apple came through for us in the Fantasy at 9-1 here,” Asmussen said. “She's 3 for 3 on the year. She's 2 for 2 in both of her two-turn races. What an opportunity it is to go into the Kentucky Oaks undefeated this year.”
Lady Apple worked a half-mile in :49.80 Sunday morning in preparation for the 1 1/8-mile Oaks, the country's biggest prize for 3-year-old fillies.
She's a Julie, in her only start this year, was a powerful winner of the $200,000 Bayakoa Stakes (G3) Feb. 18, Oaklawn's first of two major preps for the $750,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) April 14. Asmussen also won the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 16 and the Apple Blossom with Midnight Bisou.
Mitole, Oaklawn's top sprinter this year, will be making his Grade 1 debut in the 7-furlong Churchill Downs. Mitole has won five consecutive starts, including the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes last year at Oaklawn and the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) April 13. The Count Fleet, contested over a sloppy track, was on the Arkansas Derby undercard.
“Mitole is a very special horse and we are going to give him a chance in the Grade 1 Churchill Downs Handicap next Saturday,” Asmussen said. “Great competition, but we have a great horse.”
Mia Mischief won the $150,000 Purple Martin Stakes last year at Oaklawn.
Asmussen saddled two winners Saturday at Oaklawn, stretching his lead in the standings over Robertino Diodoro to 57-45 with four days remaining in the scheduled 57-day meeting.
Only the late Cole Norman – a record 71 victories in 2003 and 62 victories in 2005 – has won more races than Asmussen in a single season at Oaklawn.
Asmussen ($5,128,125 through Saturday) has already shattered his Oaklawn record for single-season purse earnings. Asmussen entered Sunday with 640 career victories at Oaklawn, where he topped the standings in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017 and 2018.
Nitrous ($12.60) gave Asmussen his 82nd career Oaklawn stakes victory in Saturday's $150,000 Bachelor for 3-year-old sprinters. Asmussen has won the Bachelor a record six times.
Norman was Oaklawn's leading trainer in 2001-2006.
New to the Paulick Report? Click here to sign up for our daily email newsletter to keep up on this and other stories happening in the Thoroughbred industry.
Copyright © 2019 Paulick Report.