Steve Asmussen Profile

Name Steve Asmussen
Born Nov 18, 1965
Age 55 years
Birthplace Gettysburg, South Dakota
Nationality American

Star trainer closing in on Dale Baird's North American winners' record.

Steve Asmussen is one of the best-known trainers in American Thoroughbred horse racing. A two-time Eclipse Award winner for outstanding trainer, he was inducted into the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame in 2016.

Asmussen regularly trains some of the best runners in the sport, and has wins on his record in races such as the Preakness Stakes, Belmont Stakes, Breeders' Cup Classic, Kentucky Oaks and Dubai World Cup. He operates a stable with more than 200 racehorses.

Some of Asmussen's top trainees include Curlin, Rachel Alexandra, Gun Runner, Creator, Untapable and Tapiture.

Rachel Alexandra wins the 2009 Preakness Stakes

The trainer has more than 9,000 wins from more than 44,000 starts. His purse earnings are north of $347million.

Early life

Steve Asmussen, like many of the great names in the sport, has had a connection to horse racing his entire life. His father, Keith, is a retired jockey, while his mother, Marilyn, was a trainer who became the first woman to win a significant quarter horse race in 1978. Asmussen's parents now run the El Primero Training Center and the Asmussen Horse Center.

Asmussen's older brother, Cash, is also involved in the business as a trainer. He was previously a jockey who received an Eclipse Award for his championship performances in Europe.

At the age of 16, Asmussen began guiding horses as a jockey in New Mexico, California, and New York. However, that journey eventually came to an end due to limitations brought on by his height and weight.

Becoming a Hall of Fame trainer

Steve Asmussen broke onto the training stage with his first race in 1986 at Ruidoso Downs. The following year, he won his first stakes race with trainee Scout Command in the Bessemer Stakes at Birmingham Race Course.

The trainer continued for about 10 years before winning his first graded stakes race, which came via Valid Expectations in the Derby Trial at Churchill Downs. His next big milestone came in 1999 when Dreams Galore provided him with his first Grade 1 victory in the Mother Goose Stakes.

Asmussen really started to become a top trainer after linking up with Stonestreet Stables. The partnership was responsible for top names like Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. He also partnered with Winchell Thoroughbreds to train Untapable and Gun Runner, both champion runners.

Most significant racing victories and horses

Steve Asmussen consistently enters his horses into top racing events. Three of his charges have won Triple Crown races, the first being Curlin. The renowned colt finished third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby before defeating Street Sense in the Preakness Stakes that year. He finished second in the Belmont Stakes behind Rags to Riches before winning the Breeders' Cup Classic.

Trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Robby Albarado celebrate Curlin's win in the 2007 Preakness Stakes

In 2008, Curlin scored various Grade 1 races, including the Dubai World Cup, Woodward Stakes and Stephen Foster Handicap. With his victories, he was awarded American Horse of the Year prize in both 2007 and 2008.

In 2009, Rachel Alexandra claimed the Preakness Stakes, becoming the first filly in 85 years to win the event. That same year, she won the Haskell Invitational Stakes and the Woodward Stakes, becoming the 2009 American Horse of the Year.

Another of Asmussen's top trainees was Creator, winner of the 2016 Belmont Stakes. Following Asmussen's success with offspring from leading sire Tapit, such as Untapable and Tapizar, Creator's owners sought out the trainer.

Asmussen also trained Gun Runner in 2016 as a three-year-old colt. Gun Runner was just one among a large group of top three-year-old runners that Asmussen was responsible for. However, he was by far the best of all of them. He scored multiple Louisiana prep races before taking third in the Kentucky Derby, and he went on to finish second in the Dubai World Cup.

Following his second-place run in the Dubai World Cup, Gun Runner never lost another race. The racehorse went on to become the top older horse of 2017. He took five of six races, highlighted by the Breeders' Cup Classic. The other victories included the Stephen Foster, Woodward and Whitney Stakes. In 2018, his biggest win was the Pegasus World Cup.

On May 5, 2018, Asmussen registered his 8,000th career win when Lookin At Lee finished first in a race at Churchill Downs.

Asmussen trained Midnight Bisou and Mitole in 2019, two of the stars of that year. Midnight Bisou had an impressive seven-for-seven run that included three Grade 1 victories. The runner went on to run at the Breeders' Cup World Championships, taking second in the Distaff.

Mitole scored four Grade 1 stakes wins under Asmussen in that same season, with his biggest performances coming in the Runhappy Metropolitan Handicap and Breeders' Cup Sprint.

Awards and records

Asmussen has broken many records and won various awards throughout his prestigious career, starting in 2002 when he became the leading North American trainer by number of victories. That year, the trainer registered 407 wins, and he has since taken that same title eight times.

In 2004, Asmussen scored 555 wins to set the single-season record for wins by a trainer. The previous record was held by Jack Van Berg with 496 in 1976.

Asmussen went on to extend that record, registering 621 wins in 2008 and 650 in 2009.

The trainer's 2008 season was a big one, highlighted by the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer. He also set the single-season record for number of wins and became the leading trainer in North America by earnings. HIs stable was responsible for 19 graded stakes race victories.

Asmussen's second Eclipse Award came in 2009 when he led the earnings list and set the record for total wins.

His accolades only continued to accumulate and in 2013 he moved second on the list for wins by a trainer in North America. He is now behind only Dale Baird and his tally of 9,445.

In 2016, Asmussen became a Hall of Fame trainer after being inducted alongside his filly Rachel Alexandra.

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