Steven M. Asmussen
Steve Asmussen’s time as a jockey didn’t amount to much glory — he registered only 63 wins before he outgrew the saddle — but Asmussen’s brief stint as a rider was only a precursor to one of the most successful training careers in American racing history.
Nov. 18, 1965, Gettysburg, South Dakota
Considering his family’s involvement in the sport, it comes as no surprise that Asmussen has enjoyed success in racing. His parents, Keith and Marilyn, were trainers and his older brother, Cash, won an Eclipse Award as a jockey. Working with the family’s horses while growing up, Asmussen dreamed of being a jockey, but he grew to be more than six feet tall and was forced into another career path.
“No one would believe me if I didn’t have the pictures to prove it,” Asmussen said of his brief jockey career. “My parents are 5-foot-5 and 5-foot-2, so I don’t know what happened.”
Once his size necessitated changing careers, Asmussen returned to the family farm in Texas and broke yearlings before going out to train on his own in 1986 with some of his family’s horses. He won his first race as a trainer at the age of 20 that year at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico and earned his first stakes win the following year.
The Eclipse Award winner for Outstanding Trainer in 2008 and 2009, Asmussen trained three consecutive Horse of the Year winners in Curlin (2007 and 2008) and Rachel Alexandra (2009), both Hall of Fame members. Asmussen saddled both horses to victories in the Preakness Stakes for majority owner Stonestreet Stables.
Along with Curlin and Rachel Alexandra, Asmussen has also trained Horse of the Year Gun Runner and champions Kodiak Cowboy, My Miss Aurelia, Untapable, and Mitole.
In 2004, Asmussen won 555 races to surpass the single-year record of 496 that had been held by Hall of Fame member Jack Van Berg since 1976. Asmussen broke his own record in 2008 with 621 wins and topped it again with 650 wins in 2009. In 2016, less than two months after he was elected to the Hall of Fame, Asmussen won his third Triple Crown race when Creator defeated Destin in the Belmont Stakes.
Asmussen has won seven Breeders' Cup races: 2007 Classic (Curlin), 2011 Juvenile Fillies (My Miss Aurelia), 2011 Turf Sprint (Regally Ready), 2012 Dirt Mile (Tapizar), 2014 Distaff (Untapable), 2017 Classic (Gun Runner), and the 2019 Sprint (Mitole).
Through June 2021, Asmussen has won 9,424 races (No. 2 all time) with purse earnings of $360,227,734 (No. 2 all time).
Eclipse Award for Outstanding Trainer — 2008, 2009
North America's leading trainer in wins — 2002, 2004, 2005, 2007, 2008, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2013
North America's leading trainer in earnings — 2008, 2009
Triple Crown Highlights
Won the 2007 Preakness Stakes — Curlin
Won the 2009 Preakness Stakes — Rachel Alexandra
Won the 2016 Belmont Stakes — Creator
Breeders' Cup Highlights
Won the 2007 Classic — Curlin
Won the 2011 Juvenile Fillies — My Miss Aurelia
Won the 2011 Turf Sprint — Regally Ready
Won the 2012 Dirt Mile — Tapizar
Won the 2014 Distaff — Untapable
Won the 2017 Classic — Gun Runner
Won the 2019 Sprint — Mitole