September 25, 2023

Asmussen continues juvenile success at Saratoga with Carter Cat, Absolutely Aiden

Trainer Steve Asmussen (c) Oaklawn Park/Coady Photography

by Teresa Genaro

Two open maiden races early on the Saturday, July 28, card at Saratoga, two more juvenile wins for trainer Steve Asmussen, who this summer seems like he can’t miss when sending out his babies.

Race 1 was rained off the turf onto a good/harrowed track, circumstances similar to Carter Cat’s last start at Churchill, which came off the turf onto a sloppy track and in which the Tale of the Cat colt finished second by a half-length. A $155,000 purchase by Winchell Thoroughbreds and Willis Horton Racing, the Asmussen pupil is out of the Speightstown mare Dazzletown, and despite his success on the dirt – two seconds and a win – the trainer still expects to give the bay colt a start on turf.

“We would have run him if the race had stayed on the turf,” Asmussen said. “He’s got a very versatility personality, so I’m still anxious to give him a shot on the turf. He runs a little better if he can settle a little, and that generally works better on the turf, but we’re pleased with this result.”

Four races later, Asmussen sent out first time starter Absolutely Aiden, a $120,000 two-year-old purchase that he had selected from the OBS April sale of two-year-olds in training. Sent to the lead under Ricardo Santana Jr., who had also ridden Carter Cat, Absolutely Aiden maintained a short lead through most of the six furlongs, opening up in the stretch to lead by several lengths.

As professional as the Stay Thirsty chestnut colt had been to that point, he showed some greenness approaching the wire. Absolutely Aiden was running on the inside, and out in the three- and four-paths the youngsters engaged in a little bumping. Though well out of their way, Absolutely Aiden suddenly ducked toward the wall before re-establishing a steady pace to win by 2 3/4 lengths at odds of nearly 8-1.

A $120,000 purchase out of the Carson City mare Quiet City, Absolutely Aiden is owned by Dream Baby Dream Racing Stable, the nom de course of Lee Ackerley. Asmussen selected the colt out of this year’s OBS April sale.

“He’s been training very well in Kentucky,” said racing manager John Cilia, “and Steve said he had a good mind and did everything right, and that it was time to run him.”

Absolutely Aiden is a half-brother to multiple graded stakes-placed Special Jo and three six-figure earners.

Though the Hopeful (G1) at the end of this meet could be a logical next spot for Absolutely Aiden, Cilia was happy to bask in the present before looking to the future.

“To win a maiden at Saratoga, that’s a big thing in racing,” he said. “It’s been a while since we’ve been in the winner’s circle, so this is great.”