Asmussen, 42, was two wins shy of the milestone entering Sunday racing. His first victory came at Fair Grounds when Far East Gold, a 3-year-old colt, won in the fifth race with Shaun Bridgmohan aboard. A little more than five minutes later J J’s Bud gave Asmussen his memorable score.
Asmussen now ranks eighth on the all-time list for wins by a trainer.
“I wasn’t hung up on 3,999 too long,” laughed Asmussen, who was at Fair Grounds Sunday. “I’m very proud to be a part of an elite group of trainers like D. Wayne Lukas, Jack Van Berg, Jerry Hollendorfer, Richard Hazleton, and others that I greatly respect.
“The first 10 years of my career, this didn’t seem possible, did it? It’s just a testament to all the help I’ve gotten over the years. The way we’ve got it set up now, I’m just one part of something that seems to be going pretty good.”
Asmussen, a Texas native, began his career in horse racing as a jockey at the age of 16 before changing course. In 1986, he began training both Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds in New Mexico. It would be more than 13 years before Asmussen won his first graded stakes and became a household name in the sport.
Asmussen, who has won training titles at 10 different racetracks, broke the record for wins in a season in 2004, saddling 555 horses to victory. He repeated as the nation’s leading trainer by wins the following year.
Backed by Curlin, Asmussen had his most successful year as a trainer in 2007. Curlin captured the Arkansas Derby (gr. II), was third in the Kentucky Derby Presented by Yum! Brands (gr. I), and then went on to win the Preakness Stakes (gr. I) and Breeders’ Cup Classic-Powered by Dodge (gr. I). He later won Horse of the Year honors.
“My mom and dad, bar none, have been my biggest influence to this point,” said Asmussen, who comes from a racing family that operates a training center in Laredo, Texas. “I started training for them and they were always there when I needed help.”