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Biography, Highlights and Media:
- Born: Nov. 18, 1965, Gettysburg, S.D.
- Residence: Arlington, Texas
- Family: wife, Julie; sons, Keith James, Darren Scott and Eric Mark.
- Steve Asmussen expects to send three runners to the 2013 Breeders’ Cup. Bound for the Juvenile Fillies is Untapable, undefeated in two starts including the Pocahontas Stakes (G2), a Breeders' Cup Challenge “Win and You’re In” race. Returning to the Breeders’ Cup is Justin Phillip, expected for the Sprint after finishing fifth in that race in 2012. Since that result he earned his first Grade 1 victory, the 2013 Vanderbilt Handicap, and came within a neck of winning another, the Vosburgh Invitational. Also returning is Unbridled’s Note, intended again for the Turf Sprint after finishing second in that race in 2012.
- Asmussen has saddled 29 Breeders’ Cup starters and to date has four wins in four different races: the 2012 Dirt Mile with Tapizar; the 2011 Turf Sprint with Regally Ready; the 2011 Juvenile Fillies with My Miss Aurelia; and the 2007 Classic with Curlin.
- Asmussen first entered the Breeders’ Cup picture in 2003, saddling Posse in the Sprint, Cuvee in the Juvenile, and Lady Tak in the Distaff; Posse finished best, coming home fourth. After an also-ran finish with Private Vow in the 2005 Juvenile and no entries in 2006, Asmussen had a breakthrough Breeders’ Cup in 2007. In addition to Curlin’s Classic victory, Pyro and Kodiak Kowboy finished second and third, respectively, in the Juvenile. In 2008, Curlin returned to the Classic but could not repeat, finishing fourth, while Storm Treasure came home third in the Turf Sprint. Asmussen's lone entry in 2009, Jungle Tale, was fifth in the Juvenile Fillies Turf, and he was off the board with three starters in 2010. In 2011, he was back in the winner's circle with My Miss Aurelia (Juvenile Fillies) and Regally Ready (Turf Sprint); three others were off the board, although Tapizar counted his first Breeders' Cup earnings with a fifth in the Dirt Mile. In 2012, all six of Asmussen’s Breeders’ Cup entries brought home checks: Tapizar’s win in the Dirt Mile; seconds by My Miss Aurelia in the Ladies' Classic (now Distaff), Dust and Diamonds in the Filly and Mare Sprint, and Unbridled’s Note in the Turf Sprint; a fourth by Great Mills in the Turf Sprint; and Justin Phillip’s fifth in the Sprint.
- Asmussen’s Breeders’ Cup stars have been well rewarded on Eclipse Awards night. Curlin was twice named Horse of the Year, for 2007 and 2008, and Kodiak Kowboy, returned to Asmussen for his final two starts after a stint with Larry Jones, was named top sprinter for 2009. My Miss Aurelia, undefeated in four starts as a 2-year-old, took home the Eclipse Award as 2011’s top juvenile female.
- In addition to Asmussen’s Breeders’ Cup hopefuls, other stable standouts in 2013 have been 4-year-old Cluster of Stars, undefeated in seven starts including two Grade 2 stakes; multiple graded stakes winner Master Rick; and Grade 3 winners Brazen Persuasion and Mico Margarita.
- Asmussen was North America’s leading trainer by wins in 2002, 2004, 2005, and 2007 through 2011. He won the Eclipse Award as outstanding trainer in 2008, when he set the record for number of wins in a year with 622, and won the award again in 2009 when he broke his own record with 650 wins. He also was the first trainer in history to win 500 races in one year, scoring 555 in 2004, crushing the record of 476 held by Jack Van Berg since 1976. Asmussen set a North American record on Feb. 7, 2004, when he won 10 races in one day, including three stakes, from 16 starters at five tracks.
- Through Oct. 19, 2013, Asmussen has 6,588 career wins, second among all North American trainers only to Dale Baird, whose win total stood at 9,445 when he was killed in an auto accident in 2007. Asmussen also has 5,264 seconds and 4,437 thirds among his 31,204 starters, a 52 percent top-three performance. His purse earnings stand at more than $210 million, fifth among all trainers lifetime. Saddling Basalt at Remington Park, Asmussen earned his 6,000th win on Nov. 18, 2011, the fifth trainer to reach that milestone. He holds multiple training titles including at Ellis Park, Fair Grounds, Keeneland, Lone Star Park, Monmouth, Oaklawn Park, Remington Park, Retama Park, Sunland Park, and Churchill Downs.
- Asmussen currently has about 100 horses in training, divided among New York, Kentucky, and Oklahoma operations. His assistants are Scott Blasi, Darren Fleming, and Toby Sheets.
- Among Asmussen's major clients are Winchell Thoroughbreds, who owns Untapable; Zayat Stables, who owns Justin Phillip; and Mike McCarty, who owns Unbridled’s Note. The trainer's operation suffered a blow in 2011 with the death of leading client Jess Jackson of Stonestreet Stable. Jackson’s wife, Barbara Banke, continues to run the stable. Two horses that Asmussen trained for Jackson left near-indelible marks on racing’s history books, earning three straight Horse of the Year Eclipse awards between them: Curlin in 2007 and 2008 and Rachel Alexandra in 2009.
- Rachel Alexandra was purchased by Jackson and Harold McCormick after her 20-length win in the 2009 Kentucky Oaks. The filly was undefeated in eight starts as a 3-year-old, including historic wins over males in the 2009 Preakness Stakes and Haskell Invitational and over older males in the 2009 Woodward Stakes. Retired in 2010, she was bred to Curlin and delivered her first foal in January 2012. The foal was named Jess’s Dream following a naming contest that drew more than 6,500 submissions.
- Asmussen trained Curlin from his second start after Midnight Cry Stables sold majority interest in the colt to Stonestreet and partners George Bolton and Padua Stables; Stonestreet eventually owned the horse outright. Curlin won the Preakness Stakes and Breeders’ Cup Classic in 2007 and followed with wins in the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster Handicap, and Jockey Club Gold Cup in 2008. The Gold Cup win pushed his career earnings over the $10 million mark and past Cigar as the top American earner in history. After finishing fourth in the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Classic, Curlin was retired to stand at Lane’s End Farm.
- Asmussen learned the racing business from his parents, Keith and Marilyn Asmussen, who breed, own, and train. He was helping to walk hots and mucking stalls by the age of five. In a childhood accident, he lost part of one thumb while holding a horse through a chain link fence. Asmussen took out his jockey’s license at age 16 and rode for three years in California, New Mexico, and New York before difficulty maintaining weight forced him to abandon race riding. His brother, Cash, now also a trainer, was the Eclipse Award top apprentice jockey in 1979 before becoming a champion rider in Europe. The Asmussen family operates Asmussen Horse Center, a breeding and sales operation, and El Primero Training Center, both in Laredo, Texas.
- Asmussen began training Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses in New Mexico in 1986 and won his first Thoroughbred stakes in 1987, the Bessemer Stakes with Scout Command at Birmingham Race Course. His first graded win, the G3 Derby Trial in 1996, came with Valid Expectations, his first major contender and winner of seven stakes from 1995 through 1997. His first G1 win came in 1999 with Mother Goose Stakes winner Dreams Galore.
Breeders' Cup Record
| ||Juvenile||Kodiak Kowboy||3rd|
| ||Classic||Student Council||11th|
| ||Dirt Mile||Pyro||6th|
| ||Turf Sprint||Storm Treasure||3rd|
|2009||Juvenile Fillies Turf||Jungle Tale||5th|
| ||Dirt Mile||Thiskyhasnolimit||7th|
| ||Sprint||Riley Tucker||9th|
| ||Dirt Mile||Wilburn ||7th|
| ||Juvenile Fillies||My Miss Aurelia ||1st|
| ||Juvenile Turf||Daddy Nose Best||6th|
| ||Turf Sprint||Regally Ready||1st|
| ||Filly & Mare Sprint||Dust and Diamonds||2nd|
| ||Ladies' Classic||My Miss Aurelia||2nd|
| ||Sprint||Justin Phillip||5th|
| ||Turf Sprint||Great Mills||4th|
| ||Turf Sprint||Unbridled's Note||2nd|
Biographies on jockeys, trainers and owners are from the Breeders' Cup World Championships events from 2001 through 2009, and are intended as informational resources. Biographies will be updated if an individual is again a participant in the Breeders' Cup World Championships.
Biographies are available for most horses appearing in the top 100 money earnings list, and/or for those who are frequently making headlines in the news starting with the 2006 Triple Crown season.