Trainer Steve Asmussen, got Derby week off to a good start.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, got Derby week off to a good start.

Anne M. Eberhardt

Asmussen: Duo Ready for Derby Challenge

Although neither of his horses will be among the favorites for Saturday's Kentucky Derby presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), trainer Steve Asmussen has a comfort level with how both Private Vow and Storm Treasure are coming into the race.

"They are both very comfortable and within themselves," Asmussen said after the colts owned by Mike McCarty worked Monday in the pre-dawn darkness over a Churchill Downs surface labeled muddy. "I am very happy with where they are at, mentally and physically. I like the way they worked today and how they came out of it."

On the track shortly after it opened at 6 a.m. (ET) was Storm Treasure, who went five-eighths of a mile in 1:00 2/5. Not long afterward, stablemate Private Vow was timed in 1:00 for the same distance. Exercise rider Carmen Rosas was aboard for both workouts.

"They worked went over the track nicely," Asmussen said. "It's great to be here with two healthy horses."

Assessing his horses' chances, Asmussen said Private Vow must show he has regained the form he displayed last year when winning two grade II races and that Storm Treasure must show marked improvement to be competitive. He noted that a work in company last week, getting five furlongs in 1:00 1/5 and galloping out six furlongs in 1:13 2/5, was an indication of how well they are doing.

"I want Private Vow to be as relaxed as possible," Asmussen said. "I think he is fast enough. I am just concerned if he can go far enough. The other horse needs to step up. I thought it (April 24 work) was his (Private Vow's) best work all year, which we were expecting because of how well he had trained here the other times he had been here. We were expecting that little step forward...I think both of works here definitely looked more impressive than any of his previous works. I think he is getting better at the right time and he will run better. It is obvious how much better he will have to run to be competitive."

A son of Broken Vow , Private Vow is won the Futurity at Belmont and the Kentucky Jockey Club at Churchill Downs as a 2-year-old of 2005. He has won half of his eight starts and earned $482,508.

Storm Treasure, a son of Storm Boot, has one win to his credit in six lifetime starts, breaking his maiden at Churchill last November. His four second-place finishes include a runner-up effort in the Toyota Blue Grass Stakes (gr. I).

Although the track was labeled muddy during the first wave of workouts, Asmussen was not concerned with the track condition.

"(Track superintendent) Butch Lehr does a great job with this track," he said. "You can pretty much do what you want, when you want, and let it take care of itself."