Saturday November 20, Steve Asmussen broke Jack Van Berg's single season record for wins by a trainer in a single season. In 1976, Van Berg trained 496 winners, a record which stood for 28 years. His 400-plus win season already puts him in elite company, as only he, Van Berg, and Scott Lake have accomplished this feat. The record setting win came in the $40,000 Delta Belle Stakes at Delta Downs in Vinton, Louisiana, where Coronado Rose got up just in time to win by a neck. With over a month of racing left in the year, he should easily top 500 wins for the year. This has been a banner year for Asmussen, who has won trainer titles at eight meets with total earnings of over $12.5 million.
The 39-year-old native of Gettysburg, South Dakota, comes from a prominent family of horsemen. His experience with horses began at the age of 5 when he walked horses and mucked stalls for his parents. He lost part of his thumb in a childhood accident while holding a horse through a chain link fence. Steve, brother Cash, and father Keith all were jockeys at some point, and then upon retiring from the saddle he switched to training. Of the three, Cash was the most accomplished as a jockey, winning the Eclipse for top apprentice rider in 1979 before moving his tack to Europe where he was a champion rider. His mother Marilyn is also a trainer. The family runs the El Primero Training Center in Laredo, Texas, a 150-horse facility.
Steve's riding career began at the age of 16 and lasted all of three years, with stints in New Mexico, California, and New York, before being forced to retire having grown too large for the job. His training career began with both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in New Mexico in 1986. In 1989 and 1990 he trained almost exclusively 2-year-olds, at the now-defunct Birmingham Race Course in Alabama, with his father Keith aboard most of his horses. He was always among the leaders in wins wherever he was based.
Over time, his stable expanded nationwide. He currently trains some 150 horses divided up among his divisions in New York, Chicago, Kentucky, Texas, and Louisiana, for such owners as Bob and Leland Ackerly, Padua Stable, James Cassells, Golden Eagle Farm, Nelson Bunker Hunt, Richard Englander, Mike Pegram, Gary Tanaka, Team Valor, and The Thoroughbred Corp. He has won training titles at Lone Star Park, Keeneland, Fair Grounds, Churchill Downs, Remington Park, Sam Houston, and Retama Park, and is the all-time leading trainer at Lone Star.
His first major horse was Ackerly Brothers Farm's Valid Expectations, a seven-time stakes winner from 1995-1997, and in 1999 he won his first Grade 1 with Gary Tanaka's Dreams Gallore in the Mother Goose Stakes at Belmont Park. Among his stable stars in 2004 are Cuvee, Lady Tak, Bwana Charlie and Lunarpal. This year, his trainees are winning at around a 24% clip, finishing in the money 55% of the time. At the time he broke the record, he was third in the national earnings standings, with his horses earning over $12 million, behind Todd Pletcher and Bobby Frankel at $16 million and $14 million respectively.
Back to Horse-Races.Net main page
|Want to keep up with what's new on this site?|
Sign up for my weekly newsletter here.
On the Forum: