Steve Asmussen had been training horses for 13 years before guiding his first horse to a grade I victory in 1999. A little more than five years later, the Texas native accomplished something he never thought possible: saddling 555 winners in a single season.
Now, just four years removed from that record, Asmussen has outdone himself again, this time breaking his own single-season victory mark. The 43-year-old accomplished the feat when Prophesy won the first race at Remington Park. As of Nov. 23, Asmussen had 557 wins with six weeks of racing left in 2008.
The former jockey who once mucked stalls for his parents has come a long way in a short time.
“There was a time a few years ago when I thought 557 would have been a great career,” Asmussen said Nov. 25 during a media teleconference. “I think what made this possible—and I’m a small part—is tremendous help from (assistants) like Scott Blasi, Darren Fleming, and Toby Sheets. This is definitely the pinnacle for me and my whole family. The success is greatly appreciated.”
Asmussen, who has more than 200 horses in training, mostly in New York, Texas, Illinois, Kentucky, and Louisiana, said that in the coming years he expects to downsize his stable and concentrate on running horses at racetracks where purses are highest.
He also acknowledged winning claiming races does not give him the same thrill as winning events like the Breeders’ Cup Classic (gr. I) and Dubai World Cup (UAE-I), which he did with recently retired Curlin. Despite that, he said the goal will remain the same with every horse he trains.
“The goal is to use our resources to do the best with each individual horse,” said Asmussen, who has 4,474 career wins, which ranks him eighth all-time. “That individual horse only has its own individual chance, and we want to make the most of it.”
Asmussen has garnered his 557 wins this season from 2,698 starters. His horses have earned $21,996,492, giving him a more than $9-million advantage over second-place Todd Pletcher.