By Kelsey Riley
Throughout Rachel Alexandra’s monumental campaign, her proponents pointed out that on many occasions, Rachel made history. The same can be said for her Eclipse Award-winning trainer, Steve Asmussen, during this 2009 campaign.
Asmussen, a 44-year-old native of Texas, spent much of 2009 rewriting the record books. In 2008 Asmussen earned his first Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer largely on the merits of two-time Horse of the Year, Curlin, and a new single-season win record of 622 wins. In 2009 Asmussen returned to a similar tune. In September, he became just the fifth trainer in history to reach the 5,000 win plateau, and in December he broke his own single-season win record, recording win number 623 on Dec. 6. He rounded out the year with 650 wins from 2,944 starters, making him the leading North American trainer by number of wins for the third consecutive year, and sixth time overall.
Asmussen’s runners earned $21,876,405 in North American earnings in 2009, placing him atop the trainers standings for the second time.
Among Asmussen’s 2009 charges were Eclipse finalists Rachel Alexandra; Kodiak Kowboy, winner of the Hill ‘n’ Dale Cigar Mile (gr. I); and Hot Dixie Chick, winner of the Spinaway (gr. I) and Schuylerville Stakes (gr. III).
Asmussen saddled 72 black-type stakes winners and 21 graded stakes winners in 2009.
Asmussen is known for his widespread operation, heading large stables in Kentucky, Louisiana, Oklahoma, New York, Texas, and Canada.
First-place vote totals: Steve Asmussen, 130; John Shirreffs, 57; Jonathan Sheppard, 19; Bob Baffert, 10; Saeed bin Suroor, 5; Bobby Frankel, 4; Jerry Hollendorfer, 2; Hal Wiggins, 2; Todd Pletcher, 2.