Asmussen Climbs To Top of Churchill Downs’ Leaderboard

Asmussen Interview

(Catch a glimpse of HOF Trainer Steve Asmussen chatting about his talented colt Tenfold and his chances of upsetting Justify in the Belmont Stakes / Video Taken By Mark Board)

Steve Asmussen keeps a steady string of horses at Churchill Downs throughout the year. And, that contingency has always included the best and brights of his pupils.

Just a year ago, it was the regular home for the great Gun Runner. And, all he did was run his way to a victory in the Breeders’ Cup Classic and a Championship.

This year, it is home base for Tenfold, and a host of other top Thoroughbreds in the care of the talented trainer. All Tenfold has done is leap onto the current Triple Crown scene with an impressive, closing third in the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico just about three short weeks ago. Now, he will try to spoil the Justify pooch in the Belmont Stakes this Saturday, and win the final leg of this year’s Triple Crown series.

So, it is pretty obvious that the Hall of Fame trainer knows his way around Louisville; around Churchill Downs and the oval; and how to make it to the winner’s circle.

And, it is no surprise that after all was said and done on Sunday, the guy sitting atop the leaderboard for the race to win this year’s Trainer’s Title for the Spring/Summer meet is none other than the native Texan, who now can call Kentucky home.

So far this meet, Asmussen has made 62 starts. He has tallied 16 wins, with 10 seconds and 8 thirds. Those  horses, and others, have totaled $717,316 in earnings to date. And, that gives Asmussen a commanding lead over a group of five other trainers that are giving chase.

Brad Cox, who won the Trainer’s Title at the Fair Grounds this winter, got off to a rather slow start this meet, but is heating up just fine along with the weather around here. He now has 12 wins in 45 starts and is alone in second place. Due, in large part, to the impressive victory by Monomoy Girl in this year’s Kentucky Oaks, Cox has put up over $1.114 million in earnings to date.

Kenny McPeek is one win farther back in third, with 11 trips to the winner’s circle. He has a record of 11-10-6 in 46 starts and has totaled $418,027 in purse earnings.

One win back, and tied for fourth place, are trainers Ian Wilkes, Eddie Kenneally and Michael Tomlinson with 10 wins apiece.

Here is a closer look at the current trainer standings:

NameStarts1st2nd3rdEarnings
Steven M. Asmussen6216108$717,316
Brad H. Cox451276$1,144,994
Kenneth G. McPeek4611106$418,027
Ian R. Wilkes531075$489,355
Eddie Kenneally241042$288,707
Michael A. Tomlinson241021$204,620
Brendan P. Walsh37867$504,932
Michael J. Maker45865$307,744
George R. Arnold II23833$497,954
Mark E. Casse40757$761,779
Dale L. Romans33743$242,711
Albert M. Stall, Jr21655$223,275
Chris A. Hartman30606$165,582
Gregory D. Foley24564$130,607
Joe Sharp17404$134,797
Michelle Lovell7400$87,535
Thomas M. Amoss27361$132,580
Dallas Stewart28344$178,991
Wayne M. Catalano17334$140,423
Ben Colebrook19331$420,058

This was a steppingstone and that’s all we needed. He’ll come back good. We wanted to run a good race. I don’t think the fans and everybody else could have had a better finish from the two horses they thought were going to run like they expected.

“Bolt hadn’t run in a while. I had one three-quarter work in him; this wasn’t the race we were looking forward to. We’re looking forward to the Santa Anita Derby (April 7) and then that next race that I won’t mention yet (Kentucky Derby May 5).”

Asked is this was the best he ever felt in defeat: “Oh, yes. Coming into this race, (he dragged them)

from the receiving barn to the paddock. In the Breeders’ Cup (Juvenile Nov. 4), his head came down a little bit, he didn’t have as much life. The horse is good right now. Hopefully, we’re moving forward and he’ll be at his best in a couple months. This horse has the heart of a lion. Nine weeks ago he was undergoing a nuclear scan and here we are today. Just being within a nose of Baffert, I’m happy.

“I wasn’t even thinking about the inquiry the whole time. I was just so proud of Bolt, and if he got moved up, he did. This wasn’t the race we were really pointing for. We want to go to the Santa Anita Derby, but getting moved up is awesome; we’ve got enough (Kentucky Derby qualifying) points (50).”

Mick Ruis, Bolt D'Oro Owner/Trainer, Winner San Felipe Stakes at Santa Anita
  • Gene McLean

    Gene McLean

    Gene McLean began his professional career in 1977 as a sportswriter and columnist for the Lexington Herald-Leader in Lexington, Ky., and was recognized as one of the state’s best writers, winning the prestigious “Sportswriter of the Year” honor in 1985. Now the President and Publisher of The Pressbox, McLean sets ...

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