Because I am such a stickler for facts and figures, I made a Herculean effort to ascertain the number of horses that are actually trained by Steve Asmussen. Of course, my extensive fact-finding mission went directly to the NTRA website that consists of trainer statistics and biographies. As I began to peruse the information (born in Somewhere, North or South Dakota ... had horses in Laredo, Texas ... grew too big to be a jockey ... wife Julie, kids Keith, Darren, Eric, dogs Rudolph and Poopsy ... oh, the phone is ringing just a minute ... no I don’t need a pest control service ... now where was I?), my attention was diverted to a little side bar feature on the website that had Ellis Starr’s picks for the Belmont Stakes. This was notable for a few reasons: (a) I had never heard of him nor ever had read any of his previous selections and there was always a good possibility that he would be an improvement from either Mike Watchmaker or Steve Haskin, (b) he looks just like my Uncle Bill sans a cigarette and a martini, and (c) his top three picks seemed somewhat unordinary,
- 1. Rags to Riches
With a quick click of my mouse button, I abandoned Steve Asmussen and ventured into the handicapping world of Ellis Star of Equibase Fame. First, I must commend Ellis Starr on his use of the bold and italics fonts. Secondly, he made a good case for Rags to Riches (sorry, John),
...not only is she from the same dam that produced [2006 Belmont winner] Jazil, her sire, A.P. Indy, won this race in 1992, himself sired by Belmont and Triple Crown winner Seattle Slew. Having won three straight grade one stakes races in a row ... with back-to-back 107 figures earlier this year, Rags to Riches has all the credentials to be the third filly in the history of the race to win
Mr. Starr shared his thoughts on Tiago - which I didn’t really pay much attention to because I don’t think that he has a shot – and then Curlin, whom he felt was still a little bit freaky. However, Mr. Starr did concede the following,
Curlin has an excellent chance of completing the Preakness-Belmont double just as accomplished most recently by Afleet Alex in 2005
Memories of Afleet Alex and his racing career occupied my thoughts. So I bid adieu to Ellis Starr and set off for YouTube ...
2005 Belmont Stakes
"Afleet Alex just ran by Giacomo like he was standing still!"
It’s not difficult to imagine Curlin running by Tiago this year.
So, whatever the number of horses in Steve Asmussen’s barn, there is 1 I'll be watching with particular interest this weekend.