HomeHorse RacingExclusive club: Steve Asmussen trains his 10,000th winner

Exclusive club: Steve Asmussen trains his 10,000th winner


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Steve Asmussen, already the winningest Thoroughbred trainer from North America, became the first on the continent to reach 10,000 career victories when 4-year-old Bet He’s Ready took a field of eight maiden claimers from gate to wire to finish first Monday in the fifth race at Oaklawn.

Ricardo Santana Jr. rode the More Than Ready colt who was an even-money favorite for the six-furlong test worth $38,000. In for a $40,000 tag, Bet He’s Ready was claimed.

Click here for Oaklawn entries and results.

“It’s very hard to put into
words just all the support that we continually have got,” Asmussen told Oaklawn
TV in the winner’s circle. He went on to say, “It was a wonderful thing. I can’t
say how blessed I am to have the family here and just the continued support I’ve
always had.”

After being shut out Sunday,
Asmussen came into Monday still needing one win to reach 10,000. The two-time
Eclipse Award winner, who was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and
Hall of Fame in 2016, was stuck on 9,999 through 33 consecutive starters before
reaching the elusive milestone.

“We were stuck on ‘99’ in that
time,” Asmussen said. “I guess we just wanted to be a bit dramatic.”

Asmussen, 57, passed the late
Dale Baird for the continental record Aug. 7, 2021, when Stellar Tap’s maiden
win at Saratoga gave him his 9,446th victory.

A native of
Gettysburg, S.D., Asmussen grew up in Laredo, Texas. He literally was born into
horsemanship as the son of two racing professionals, Keith and Marilyn. His
older brother, Cash, himself was an accomplished jockey. Asmussen’s sons are
carrying on the family brand; Keith is riding at Oaklawn, and Erik is a horse

“Just being a family affair for
me,” Asmussen said. “Coming from mom and dad and a racing family, just all the
well wishes we’ve had since we’ve been close (to 10,000).”

Asmussen himself was
a jockey who won 63 of 721 races in the ’80s before he grew too tall to
compete. After he became a trainer on his own in 1986, success came gradually
as would an improving grade of runners. He won two Eclipse Awards as the top
trainer of 2008 and 2009 working with future Hall of Fame horses Curlin and
Rachel Alexandra. His roll of champions also includes Kodiak Cowboy, My Miss
Aurelia, Untapable, Mitole, Midnight Bisou, Jackie’s Warrior and 2017 horse of
the year Gun Runner.

Along the way,
Asmussen set the record for most training wins in a calendar year with 555 in
2004. He broke it in 2008 with 621 and then again in 2009 with the current
record of 650. Asmussen also has won eight times in the Breeders’ Cup, twice in
the Preakness and once in the Belmont Stakes.

Although he has said his next goal is to win a Kentucky Derby, a race in which he is 0-for-24, Asmussen is keenly aware of another target that is within reach. He is chasing the world record of 10,336 victories held by Juan Suárez Villarroel, an active trainer based in Perú. That chase could take a few more years, but at the rate Asmussen is going, it seems there is no stopping him.

Asmussen milestones
   Win Horse Type Track        Date
         1 Victory’s Halo  RUI   July 19, 1986
  1,000 Terrizing Jones Maiden special weight  HOU  Dec. 17, 2000
  2,000 Sly Secrets Maiden special weight  LaD   Sept. 6, 2003
  3,000 Forest Music Honorable Miss Hcp. (G2)  SAR    Aug. 5, 2005
  4,000 J J’s Bud Claiming   FG Sept. 13, 2008
  5,000 Passion Rules Maiden claiming  WO Sept. 11, 2009
  6,000 Basalt Maiden special weight   RP  Nov. 18, 2011
  7,000 Drama Coach Claiming   OP    April 1, 2015
  8,000 Lookin At Lee Allowance opt. claiming   CD    May 5, 2018
  9,000 Troy Ounce Claiming   RP Sept. 18, 2020
*9,446 Stellar Tap Maiden special weight  SAR    Aug. 7, 2021
10,000 Bet He’s Ready Maiden claiming   OP   Feb. 20, 2023
   *North America record

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