Asmussen seeks elusive first win in Kentucky Derby

Steve Asmussen just wins, baby

Steve Asmussen

Other trainers may get the headlines, for better or for worse, but Steve Asmussen gets what’s important — the wins.

Indeed, Thoroughbred racing’s all-time winningest trainer (about 9,500 at this writing) has an enviable resume that includes victories in the Preakness and Belmont Stakes, multiple Breeders’ Cup races (including the Classic twice) and international races such as the Dubai World Cup and Nearctic Stakes. He’s also the nine-time U.S. champion by wins and twice by earnings.

Not surprisingly, the list of horses under his guidance is also impressive, including Curlin (2007 Preakness and Breeders’ Cup Classic winner), Rachel Alexandra (2009 Horse of the Year), Gun Runner (2017 Horse of the Year), Creator (2016 Belmont), Midnight Bisou (2019 Champion Older Female Horse) and Tapizar (2012 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile).

The 56-year-old Texan literally has horse racing in his blood as the son of a jockey father and a trainer mother who run a breeding and sales operation in his hometown of Laredo. Interestingly, he began in the sport at the age of 16 as a jockey, competing at racetracks in New Mexico, California and New York until his growing height (over six feet) and weight forced him off the horse and into the clocker’s tower.

One victory that has eluded Asmussen is the Kentucky Derby, the first leg for the sport’s vaunted Triple Crown. At this writing, he has two prime candidates that could change that, Epicenter and Morello, who could be part of the 20-horse field in the 148th Run for the Roses, which airs Saturday, May 7, on NBC from Churchill Downs in Louisville.

Player Profile

Full name: Steven Mark Asmussen

Date of birth: Nov. 18, 1965

Birthplace: Gettysburg, N.D.(moved to Laredo when he was 2)

Family ties: He and wife Julie have three sons

Major victories: Preakness Stakes (2007, 2009), Belmont Stakes (2016), Breedersʼ Cup Classic (2007, 2017), Breeders’ Cup Distaff (2014), Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint (2011), Breeders’ Cup Juvenile Fillies (2011), Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile (2012), Dubai World Cup (2008), Nearctic Stakes (2011), Kentucky Oaks (2005, 2014), Jockey Club Gold Cup (2007, 2008, 2010)

Awards: Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer (2008, 2009), Champion Trainer by earnings (2008, 2009), Champion Trainer by wins (2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013), National Racing Hall of Fame inductee (2016)

George Dickie

George Dickie has been a features writer for Gracenote/Tribune Media Services since 1989, when “Hee-Haw” was still on the air and George “Goober” Lindsay was his first interview. His early interviews ranged from Jim Henson and Dick Van Dyke to Phil Collins and the Dixie Chicks.

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