Steve Asmussen is still trying to get into the Kentucky Derby, but time is running out

So far on The Road to the Kentucky Derby, six horses have earned enough points to gain entry into the Run for the Roses at Churchill Downs on May 1.

However, none of them are trained by 2016 Hall of Fame inductee Steven Asmussen.

His best chance so far in 2021 to add to his three Triple Crown race wins is Midnight Bourbon, currently ninth in the qualifying point standings for the Kentucky Derby.

The 55-year-old Asmussen is one of the top trainers in all of thoroughbred racing, having amassed almost $350million in earnings and 9,240 wins in almost 45,000 starts and counting. In 2020, he led the sport in wins and earnings, the third time he's been first in both of those categories in the same year.

Asmussen was the recipient of the Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and 2009, partly due to the success of Curlin, one of the most decorated horses in history. Curlin was the horse of the year for 2007 and 2008, winning the 2007 Preakness Stakes and finishing second in the Belmont Stakes and third in the Kentucky Derby.

The winner of 11 races was ranked first in earnings as a 3-year-old in 2007 and fifth in 2008 as a 4-year-old, his last year of racing.

In addition to Curlin, Asmussen also has two other Triple Crown race wins to his credit, the 2009 Preakness Stakes with Rachel Alexandra and the 2016 Belmont Stakes won by Creator. He also has five additional top three finishes in Triple Crown races, the most recent with Tenfold in the 2018 Preakness.

Needing some points

Asmussen's best chance of qualification for the Kentucky Derby lies with Midnight Bourbon
Asmussen's best chance of qualification for the Kentucky Derby lies with Midnight Bourbon

Midnight Bourbon, with 26 qualifying points, will probably need a runner-up finish in the $1million Louisiana Derby on Saturday to lock up a trip to the Kentucky Derby. The Championship Series race at The Fair Grounds in New Orleans awards points on a 100-40-20-10 scale and boasts a stellar field of Triple Crown hopefuls.

The favorite is Mandaloun at 8/5 odds, winner of the Risen Star Stakes and already locked into the Kentucky Derby with 50 qualifying points. Midnight Bourbon finished third in the Risen Star on February 27 but beat Mandaloun on his way to victory in the Lecomte Stakes on January 16, with both races also run at The Fair Grounds.

Asmussen has some other horses in his stable vying for Kentucky Derby invitations, but none offer the same potential as Midnight Bourbon at 5/1 odds in the Louisiana Derby. Other prominent competitors in Saturday's final Fair Grounds prep race include Proxy at 7/2, runner-up in both prior prep races at the track, Hot Rod Charlie at 3/1 and O Besos at 15/1.

The Louisiana Derby is likely the last shot for Midnight Bourbon to earn qualifying points unless Asmussen chooses to run him on a short interval in the Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn on April 10. The other horse with the best shot for the Hall of Fame trainer is Cowan, who will run in the 100-40-20-10 UAE Derby at the Meydan Racecourse in Dubai on March 27.

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