Saturday's victory by Keith Asmussen's Mountain General in the Aristides (gr. III) at Churchill Downs was his first in graded stakes company and a testament to the power of patience in dealing with a young horse.
The win by the 5-year-old son of Mountain Cat was his second in stakes company this year and improved his career record to 9-7-2 in 25 races and lifted his earnings to a healthy $499,667 for trainer Steve Asmussen, who is the son of the owner.
He has enjoyed that success despite a frustrating early stretch in his career in which Mountain General did himself in many times. He displayed poor gate habits and, although he ran well once he found his way out of the starting gate, he most likely cost himself several wins as he gave himself too much to do.
"I think time in between his races helped that more than anything," said Scott Blasi, Asmussen's assistant at Churchill Downs. "He's a little fresher and we're not running him so much. He's a little happier about what's getting ready to happen, as opposed to before when he was running through his conditions."
Mountain General was once a cantankerous sort, but Blasi said he has "been a pleasure" since Keith Asmussen gelded the horse after his 3-year-old season.
Blasi said Mountain General would not run again until the Saratoga meet.
"We'll probably run him one time up there," he said. "Depending on how he's doing, it'll either be in an allowance race or in a stake."