Trainer Steve Asmussen, who on Dec. 18 became the first trainer to win 600 races in a year, labeled the feat a "pretty amazing thing" and credited his staff and owners for his ability to continue to break records.
"It is something that can only be done by having tremendous opportunities and a great team effort," Asmussen said the morning of Dec. 19, one day after recording his 600th victory of 2008 when Storm Trust won the fifth race at Delta Downs in Vinton, La.
According to Equibase, through Dec. 18, the 43-year-old Asmussen had 600 winners from 2,909 starters, a 21% win rate, with stable earnings of $23.9 million. Earlier this year, he broke his previous record of 555 wins in a season and is leading North America in victories for the fifth time since 2002.
"You are so appreciative of the time and effort toward quality," Asmussen said of his team, which includes assistant trainers Scott Blasi, Darren Fleming, and Toby Sheets. "It is not going to happen without them. I hope it is something they are very proud of."
While he has succeeded in surpassing his own records this year, Asmussen is keeping it all in perspective. He realizes that with a downturn in the racing industry, it may be a long time before he reaches this point again.
"It was a timing thing and everything came together in one year," he said. "Speaking only for our stable, there are going to be cutbacks, with the way the racing economy is. I just get up every day and work with what I've got."
With another record in the books, Asmussen said he was looking forward to a holiday break to spend time with his wife, Julie, and sons Keith James, Darren Scott, and Eric Mark.