About Steve Asmussen
Steve Asmussen recorded the 6,000th win of his training career by saddling Basalt to victory in the first race at Remington Park on Friday November 18, 2011. Asmussen now trails only Dale Baird (9,445 wins), Jack Van Berg (6,409), King Leatherbury (6,331) and Jerry Hollendorfer (6,056) on the all-time list.
A consistent winner:
Asmussen has set a record for wins by a trainer in a single season twice, most recently in 2008 with 621 wins.
He is currently on track to break his record again with 461 as of September 11, 2009. He won the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and was the top U.S. trainer by number of wins in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2008.
Hitting 4,000 and 5,000 wins:
Asmussen recorded win number 4,000 with J J’s Bud in the 3rd race at Oaklawn Park on February 17, 2008. He became the 8th trainer in Thoroughbred racing history to reach the 4,000-win mark. Asmussen registered the 5,000th win of his training career on September 11, 2009, when Passion Rules captured the 7th race at Woodbine. He became the fifth trainer to reach the 5,000-win mark.
Asmussen was born on November 18, 1965, in Gettysburg, SD, and currently lives in Arlington, TX. He is married to wife Julie and they have three sons: Keith James, Darren Scott and Eric Mark.
From a family of horsemen:
The Asmussen name has always been associated with racing. Steve, father Keith, and brother Cash all had stints as jockeys and then switched to training upon retirement from riding.
As well, mother Marilyn is a trainer, and the family operates the 150-horse El Primero Training Center in Laredo, Texas. Cash was the most accomplished as a jockey, winning the 1979 apprentice Eclipse and then winning riding titles in Europe.
Starting off in the family business:
At the age of 5, Steve began mucking stalls and walking horses for his parents in his native Gettysburg, South Dakota. During this time, he lost part of his thumb in an accident when holding a horse through a chain link fence. At the age of 16, he took out his jockey licence and rode in New Mexico, New York, and California, but after 3 years in the saddle, he had grown too large to make weight and had to retire.
The development of a top trainer:
Steve’s training career began in New Mexico with a stable of both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds and won his first race at Ruidoso Downs his first year training. Over time, he began collecting training titles wherever he raced horses. Eventually, his success led him to expand his operations across the country, with divisions in the top American racing circuits of New York, Chicago, Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana, training for such high-profile owners as Stonestreet Stable, Padua Stable, Golden Eagle Farm, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Richard Englander, Gary Tanaka, Zayat Stable, and Team Valor.
Top horses in his stable:
Asmussen is best known as the trainer of 2007 and 2008 Horse of the Year Curlin, who won the Preakness, Jockey Club Gold Cup, and Breeders’ Cup Classic as a 3-year-old, despite never making any starts as a juvenile. He has also been the trainer of superfilly Rachel Alexandra since her purchase by Stonestreet Stables and has won the Preakness, Haskell, and Woodward with her.
Some of his stakes winners:
His first major horse was Valid Expectations, owned by Ackerly Brothers Farm, who won seven stakes races from 1995 to 1997. His first Grade 1 winner came in 1999 with Dreams Galore. Other standouts he has trained include Lady Tak, Appealing Zophie, Capeside Lady, Summerly, Cuvee, Posse, Sky Mom, Zanjero, Private Vow, Storm Treasure, Heart Ashley, Kensei, Soul Warrior, Hot Dixie Chick, Four Gifts, Pyro, My Miss Aurelia, Wilburn, and Astrology. In 2011 he won the Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint with Regally Ready, only his second BC victory (after Curlin in the 2007 Classic).
A bump in the road:
Asmussen was suspended from July 2006 through February 2007 for drug positives. No End in Sight tested positive for the local anestheic mepivicaine at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana which earned him a fine and a 6 month suspension. That suspension was served concurrently with another for Boots Are Walking at Sunland Park in New Mexico who tested positive for acepromazine.
Despite this, he was still third in total winners for 2006 with 241 and ninth in earnings with $7.7 million. During the suspension, his long-time assistant Scott Blasi was in charge of his horses. Asmussen said, “I have real good help,”
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