June 7, 2007
The race for top trainer heads for tight stretch run
By Gary West
Friday night at Lone Star, Bret Calhoun explained how important and meaningful it would be for him to win the leading trainer's title. Not only did he want to win it for himself, in front of family and friends, but for all the owners, most of them Texans, who have remained with him for years through good times and bad.
He grew up
here, he said, and went to
traveled far since then. Entering Friday's races, Calhoun, 43, sat atop the
Lone Star trainers' standings with 43 victories. And just as he was explaining
how significant the title would be, but that he didn't expect to get it, Red
Rock Creek won the fifth race, giving trainer Steve Asmussen his second victory
of the evening and 42 for the season.
With his large stable spread out across the country, Asmussen started the Lone Star season slowly. Slowly for him, anyway. He was 14 wins behind Calhoun in mid June. But Asmussen has made up seven victories in the trainers' standings over the past six race days. And so the race for the title could be one of the highlights for the final weeks of the season.
don't think we can hold him off," Calhoun said about Asmussen, sounding as
if he glanced up at the leader board to see that Tiger Woods had just birdied a
hole to move within a stroke of the lead. "Now that Churchill Downs is
closing [Sunday], he's gearing up for a big finish."
has virtually taken individual possession of the Lone Star title, winning it
eight of the past nine seasons. But in 1997, Asmussen won only 17 races,
finishing fifth in the local standings.
the Lone Star title is probably just as important to him this year as it was in
1999, when he won his first. He has topped the national standings, won training
titles at Fair Grounds,
this is home," said Asmussen, 41, who grew up in
Moments later, Asmussen sent out Lady Takum to win Friday's eighth, moving the trainer into a tie with Calhoun for first. They'll go at each other for 14 more days of racing, starting with today's Stars of Texas program.
Calhoun said all three colts he has entered in the Texas Stallion Stakes are capable of winning, and he said he thinks Be A Resident, who disliked the muddy track in his past two, and Glitter's Forum, who had a rough trip in her most recent outing, are both likely to improve. Asmussen said he's especially hopeful that his 2-year-olds will run well today and that Datrick will step forward in his second start.
Click on "Calhoun Shines" to see how the day turned out.