Steve Asmussen is one of the most polarizing figures in professional horseracing, but whether one loves him or hates him does not change the fact that Asmussen has consistently posted one of the highest winning percentages in the sport.
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The Asmussen family has been involved in horseracing for many years. Steve’s parents, Keith and Marilyn, were also trainers and his older brother Cash is a trainer and former Eclipse Award-winning jockey. Steve Asmussen also began his career as a jockey at smaller racetracks in New Mexico and California. A career in the irons was not meant to be, however, as Steve’s height and weight eventually became a prohibitive factor.
In 1986, Asmussen obtained his thoroughbred trainer’s license and began to condition horses professionally. His experience, gathered mostly from his family of horsemen, allowed Steve to start his career on the right foot, but training horses and building a racing stable is a long and difficult process. Asmussen’s early years in the racing business were lean ones as he struggled to win races in New Mexico and on other small circuits.
He persisted, however, and by 2002 Asmussen led the United States in thoroughbred wins with 407. Just two years later Asmussen set a record by scoring 555 wins. Steve Asmussen has led the nation in wins a total of five times (2002, 2004, 2005, 2008, and 2009) and also won the Eclipse Award for Trainer of the Year twice (2008, 2009).
A huge turning point for the Steve Asmussen stable was forming a partnership with the late Jess Jackson. Jackson, a wine entrepreneur and businessman, turned the horses in his Stonestreet Stables over to the care of Asmussen. The results were fantastic. Asmussen and Jackson produced two of the most successful thoroughbreds of the modern era, Curlin and Rachel Alexandra. Curlin won the 2007 Preakness Stakes and Breeder’s Cup Classic. In 2008, Curlin won the Dubai World Cup, Stephen Foster Handicap, and Woodward Stakes. Curlin was named Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008. Rachel Alexandra was acquired by Stonestreet Stables after her win in the Kentucky Oaks and promptly went on to become the first filly in 85 years to win the Preakness Stakes. She also defeated male horses in the Haskell Invitational and Woodward Stakes, garnering Horse of the Year honors for 2009. This gave Asmussen three wins in a row as the conditioner of the world’s top thoroughbred.
Despite a scandal in early 2014 in which PETA infiltrated the Asmussen stable to gather video evidence of the mistreatment of horses, Steve Asmussen has remained at the top of the horseracing world. He currently has more than 6,500 professional horseracing wins. (Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Steve_Asmussen)
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