Note: One of a series of profiles on contenders for the 152nd running of the Belmont Stakes on June 20. Updates will be provided after morning-line odds and post positions are set early next week.
By Margaret Ransom
A distant second to Charlatan in the first division of the Arkansas Derby (G1) on May 2 could be an encouraging sign that Basin is coming around in time for the Belmont Stakes (G1) on June 20.
As a promising 2-year-old, Basin won the Hopeful (G1) at Saratoga last summer by 6 ½ lengths. But he was sidelined for the next six months with a right hind ankle injury, forcing Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen to reassess the colt’s future.
By March, Basin was back, but not completely. He ran third in the Rebel Stakes (G2), fourth in the Oaklawn Stakes, and then ran more aggressively in the Arkansas Derby to finish six lengths behind unbeaten Charlatan.
After Basin’s runner-up finish, Asmussen said “He was in hot pursuit the whole way. He hung in really well. Solid fractions. I thought Ricardo (Santana, Jr.) gave him every shot. He just finished second best.”
With Charlatan, along with Nadal and Maxfield, no longer in the Belmont picture, why not Basin? The Belmont is being run at 1 1/8 miles (same distance as the Arkansas Derby) rather than its usual 1 ½ miles and is the first leg of the Triple Crown after the rescheduling of races due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Also, Basin could be declared the winner of his division of the Arkansas Derby if Charlatan winds up being disqualified for a reported positive post-race drug test.
Asmussen has won the Belmont once before, with Creator in 2016.
Trainer: Steve Asmussen
Owner: Jackpot Farm
Jockey: Richard Santana, Jr.
Career record: 6-2-2-1
Career earnings: $471,000
Pedigree: Liam’s Map–Appenzell, by Johannesburg
Running style: Stalker
“Tactical speed but no finishing punch; 0-for-3 around two turns; can’t recommend.’’ – Ed McNamara
“Has yet to deliver on the promise he showed last summer for Steve Asmussen with non-threatening losses in the Rebel, Oaklawn Stakes, and in the Arkansas Derby’s far softer division when well-beaten by Charlatan. Will need big improvement for anything more than a minor placing.’’ – Noel Michaels
Notes: Jackpot Farm is Terry Green of Houston, Texas, who owns the 200-acre Jackpot Ranch in Weatherford, Texas, where he owns and breeds elite cutting horses … Green also recently completed construction on Jackpot Farm in Lexington, Kentucky, to operate his thoroughbred operation … the name Jackpot Racing comes from Green’s primary business as he is the co-owner of Island View Casino in Gulfport, Mississippi, and was instrumental in promoting legislation in the early 1990s which allowed casino boats to operate while docked, the first legislation of its kind … Green paid $150,000 for Basin as a Keeneland September yearling and is his first Grade 1 winner.
California native and lifelong horsewoman Margaret Ransom is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s Race Track Industry Program. She got her start in racing working in the publicity departments at Calder Race Course and Hialeah Park, as well as in the racing office at Gulfstream Park in South Florida. She then spent six years in Lexington, KY, at BRISnet.com, where she helped create and develop the company’s popular newsletters: Handicapper’s Edge and Bloodstock Journal.
After returning to California, she served six years as the Southern California news correspondent for BloodHorse, assisted in the publicity department at Santa Anita Park and was a contributor to many other racing publications, including HorsePlayer Magazine and Trainer Magazine. She then spent seven years at HRTV and HRTV.com in various roles as researcher, programming assistant, producer and social media and marketing manager.
She has also walked hots and groomed runners, worked the elite sales in Kentucky for top-class consignors and volunteers for several racehorse retirement organizations, including CARMA.
In 2016, Margaret was the recipient of the prestigious Stanley Bergstein Writing Award, sponsored by Team Valor, and was an Eclipse Award honorable mention for her story, “The Shocking Untold Story of Maria Borell,” which appeared on USRacing.com. The article and subsequent stories helped save 43 abandoned and neglected Thoroughbreds in Kentucky and also helped create a new animal welfare law known as the “Borell Law.”
Margaret’s very first Breeders’ Cup was at Hollywood Park in 1984 and she has attended more than half of the Breeders’ Cups since. She counts Holy Bull and Arrogate as her favorite horses of all time. She lives in Pasadena with her longtime beau, Tony, two Australian Shepherds and one Golden Retriever.