Cuvee, one of the top juveniles of 2003, is on track for a start in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Sprint, trainer Steve Asmussen said Saturday during an interview that aired on ESPN Radio's "Inside Lone Star Park." The son of Carson City has only two starts this year and will enter the Oct. 30 World Thoroughbred Championships off a second-place effort in the grade III Kentucky Cup Sprint. "We're very excited about Cuvee," Asmussen said by phone from Keeneland. "Since last year's Breeders' Cup, nothing's gone right for him. He's finally come out of a race in good shape." Cuvee underwent knee surgery following a disappointing 12th in the $1.5 million Bessemer Trust Breeders' Cup Juvenile of 2003. After Cuvee finally made his 3-year-old debut in the Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs in May, finishing second to the highly regarded Fire Slam, he was found to have a serious lung infection that took longer than expected to desist. Asmussen said that when Cuvee did recover, he traveled to Saratoga but missed valuable training time due to heavy rains. Back on track and poised to improve off the Kentucky Cup effort, Cuvee will train up to the Breeders' Cup. The spacing will result in a 42-day gap between starts. Eleven of 20 previous Breeders' Cup Sprints, including the three most recent renewals, have been won by horses coming off a month-plus layoff. If the Breeders' Cup Sprint oversubscribes with more than 14 entrants, Cuvee could need the help of a Racing Directors/Secretaries Panel to make the field. Seven horses would earn automatic berths based on graded stakes points earned in 2004, while seven more would be ranked in order of preference by The Panel. Asmussen said 4-year-old filly Lady Tak also remains an outside possibility for the Sprint."It's not a question of how fast she is," Asmussen said. "The full field of older horses and what else we want to do with her in the future is more of a concern."
Lady Tak will run in Sunday's grade II Gallant Bloom Handicap at Belmont Park. The Florida-bred daughter of Mutakddim is the probable favorite on the basis of her impressive win in the Grade I Ballerina Handicap in August. "I'm excited and a bit nervous about running her, as always," Asmussen said. "Lady Tak's a brilliant filly, but she's giving away a lot of weight, from 12 pounds to four pounds."
"Inside Lone Star Park", hosted by Darren Rogers and The Dallas Morning News horseracing columnist Gary West, airs Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 10 a.m. CT on ESPN Radio 103.3 FM in the Dallas Fort Worth area and on the Internet at www.espn1033.com.