A Texas native, Steve Asmussen is the all-time leading trainer at Lone Star Park, but he has never captured the racetrack’s signature event for 3-year-olds–the Lone Star Derby (gr. III). On May 9, Asmussen will have his best chance when he sends out three of the seven starters in the $400,000 contest.
The nation’s leading trainer by wins and earnings once again this year, Asmussen’s three charges are all for different owners. His most high-profile starter is Uno Mas, who defeated Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I) favorite Friesan Fire in an allowance race at Fair Grounds back in December but has not hit the winner’s circle since.
Asmussen’s toughest challenge could come from Bob Baffert, who sends out a pair, including Sunland Derby runner-up Mythical Power. The son of Congaree crossed the wire a couple of lengths in front of eventual Kentucky Derby winner MineThat Bird in the March 29 race in New Mexico. Baffert also saddles the field’s lone stakes winner, Mayor Marv.
The 1 1/16-mile Lone Star Derby is the feature race on the 11-race program. Post time is set for 5:47 p.m. CDT.
Bob and Cathy Zollars and Mark Wagner’s Uno Mas has been unable to take the next step in his career after handily defeating Friesan Fire in that one-mile race at Fair Grounds. He went on to finish fourth in the LeComte Stakes (III), third in the Risen Star (gr. III) and a distant seventh in the Louisiana Derby (gr. II) – all behind victorious Friesan Fire. The son of Macho Uno—Queen Majesty, Regal Classic showed signs of improvement last out when finishing runner-up in the April 11 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park.
Bred in Kentucky by Crossroads Farm, Uno Mas is 2-3-1 from nine starts. Cliff Berry will get the mount for the first time.
One Asmussen trainee entering off a win is Zayat Stables’ Galloping Gulch, who conquered a one-mile allowance contest at Lone Star April 24. The bay colt has won two of three starts this season, including a maiden-breaking score at Sunland Park in January. Chris Landeros will ride the son of Gulch and they will break from the rail.
The last of Asmussen’s trio is Heiligbrodt Racing’s Dumar, who has been well back in all three of his stakes tries, including a sixth-place finish in the Sunland Derby. Dumar, by Maria's Mon, will be ridden by Shaun Bridgmohan.
Peachtree Stable’s homebred Mythical Power turned in a solid effort in the 1 1/8-mile Sunland Derby, which was his stakes debut and first try around two turns. Not only did Mythical Power finish better than Mine That Bird, but he was also 1 1/2 lengths better than Scorewithcater, who Doug O’Neill has entered in the Peter Pan (gr. II) Stakes May 9 at Belmont Park. The bay colt had run all of his three previous races on Santa Anita’s Pro-Ride surface, including his March 6 maiden score.
Ridden the last two times by Garrett Gomez, Mythical Power will have Victor Espinoza in the irons.
“You never know how they’ll handle racing over dirt until they try it,” said Baffert of Mythical Power, who made his first dirt start in the Sunland Derby, “but he handled it fine and he’s trained well at Churchill Downs. I think he’s going to run well on Saturday.”
Baffert’s other entrant, Mayor Marv, won the Turf Paradise Derby by more than four lengths in wire-to-wire fashion Feb. 21. Baffert then sent the promising son of Distorted Humor to the Sunland Derby, but he quit after being in contention for a half-mile and finished last. David Flores has been assigned the mount for the Hall of Fame trainer, who has won this event twice.
“He’s sort of a lazy horse and he got caught up in a really fast early pace," Baffert said of Mayor Marv's Sunland Derby effort. "He looked great in his workout the other morning and we’re hoping that he’ll bounce back with the type of performance he’s capable of.”
Speaking of O’Neill, the California-based trainer will have a starter in the Lone Star Derby, that being Joseph Lacombe Stables and Castle Park Farm's Cape Truth, who scored in an optional claimer at Hollywood Park just two weeks ago. The Cape Town colt was is 2-for-3 this season after being unraced as a juvenile.