Steve Asmussen
Trainer Bios

Steve Asmussen

Born: November 18, 1965 in Gettysburg, South Dakota

Record at Keeneland

Total Wins: 162
Stakes Wins: 12

Career Firsts

First Grade 1 Win: 1999 Mother Goose at Belmont Park with Dreams Gallore
First Stakes Win: 1987 Bessemer Stakes at Birmingham Race Course with Scout Command
First Graded Stakes Win: 1996 Derby Trial (G3) at Churchill Downs with Valid Expectations
First Career Win: July 19, 1986, at Ruidoso Downs with Victory's Halo

Starters in the Toyota Bluegrass Stakes


Year

Horse

Finish

2020

Basin

10th

2018

Zing Zang

9th

2008

Pyro

10th

2008

Big Truck

11th

2006

Storm Treasure

2nd

2007

Zanjero

3rd

At Keeneland


Three-time leading trainer: 2015 Fall (tie), 2004 Spring and Fall meets (latter in a tie).

First Keeneland win came during the 1999 Spring Meet.

First Keeneland stakes win was the 2003 Lafayette (G3) with Posse. Twelve stakes wins include 2019 Stoll Keenon Ogden Phoenix (G2) with Engage.

Won three stakes during the 2022 Fall Meet: Lexus Raven Run (G2) with Wicked Halo, Indian Summer (L) Presented by Keeneland Select with Private Creed, Perryville (L) with Gunite

Career


Became the winningest trainer in North America when he sent out Stellar Tap to win the fifth race at Saratoga on Aug. 7, 2021. With the win, he had 9,446 wins to surpass the late Dale Baird.

North American career earnings exceed $404 million with 9,978 wins through Jan. 25, 2023. He is second in the earnings category to Todd Pletcher, whose career earnings exceed $451 million. 

2016 inductee into the Racing Hall of Fame.

Two-time Eclipse Award-winning trainer (2008-2009).

Triple Crown wins (3): 2016 Belmont (G1) with Creator; Preakness (G1) with Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Curlin (2007).

Breeders’ Cup wins (8): 2007 Classic with Curlin; 2011 Juvenile Fillies with My Miss Aurelia and Turf Sprint with Regally Ready; 2012 Dirt Mile with Tapizar; 2014 Distaff with Untapable; 2016 Classic with Gun Runner; 2019 Sprint with Mitole; 2021 Juvenile Fillies with Echo Zulu.

Received 2021 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame Lifetime Achievement Award.

Received 2020 Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners' Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award. The honor recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to Kentucky racing and sharing the passion exemplified by Jones, a legendary Thoroughbred racing leader.

Recorded 9,000th win Sept. 19, 2020, when Troy Ounce won the second race at Remington Park. 

Scored 8,000th win May 5, 2018, when Lookin At Lee won the third race at Churchill Downs.

Click here for his Equibase career record.

Background


The Asmussen family has long been involved in racing. Steve’s parents, Keith and Marilyn, operate El Primero Training Center in Laredo, Texas. Keith is a former jockey who rode the American Quarter Horse Vespero to win the 1978 Kansas Futurity at Ruidoso Downs. Marilyn trained Vespero and became the first woman to train the winner of a major race for the sprinters. Steve’s brother, Cash, is an Eclipse Award-winning apprentice jockey who became a champion rider in Europe.

Working on the farm while growing up, Steve was a jockey for a little over two years. “No one would believe me if I didn’t have the pictures to prove it,” he told Daily Racing Form. “My parents were 5’5” and 5’2”. I don’t know what happened.” He grew to be more than six feet tall. Steve returned to the family training center to break yearlings and in 1986 began training on his own in New Mexico with some of his family’s horses.

Asmussen's son, Keith James Asmussen, has been a jockey in 2023.