Asmussen Storms to Commanding Lead in Churchill Downs’ Trainer Standings

(Trainer Steve Asmussen / Photo Courtesy of Keeneland)

(Mitole and rider Ricardo Santana, Jr. cross the finish line first on KY Derby Day. The colt is one of Asmussen’s 20 winners so far this meet. Photo by Holly M. Smith)

(Asmussen’s pony stands guard outside the trainer’s barn at Churchill Downs / Photo by Gene McLean)

We have grown accustomed to tight races for the Trainer’s Title at Churchill Downs. Races that come down to the wire. Races decided by a head bob at the finish line. Races that excite and thrill. Races that are tough to call.

So far this Spring, we have grown accustomed to seeing Steve Asmussen in the winner’s circle.




And so far this meet, the quiet, talented and likable Texan — who knows about as much about a horse as a horse does — has done his best imitation of Secretariat in the stretch of the Belmont Stakes. So far? He’s a runaway. An impressive runaway.

After Sunday’s races were completed, Asmussen and his barn full of talented runners had 20 winners out of the first 112 starts this meet. Add in another 17 seconds and 18 thirds and his horses have hit the board a whopping .49% of the time.

The next closest trainers are Eddie Kenneally and Mike Maker, who have made side trips to the winner’s circle 12 times apiece. Brad Cox, a perennial powerhouse in his hometown, is in fourth with 10 wins.

Here’s a closer look at the Top 20 Trainers at the current Churchill Downs meet:

1William I. Mott18224$2,339,04511%44%
2Steven M. Asmussen112201718$2,234,85118%49%
3Chad C. Brown13311$1,025,61823%38%
4Thomas M. Amoss41956$992,22522%49%
5Brad H. Cox4110108$961,65324%68%
6Claude R. McGaughey III13140$735,7198%38%
7Bob Baffert16232$725,68813%44%
8George R. Arnold, II30741$616,77523%40%
9Eddie Kenneally361275$574,40433%67%
10Michael J. Maker581297$565,98021%48%
11Ian R. Wilkes48845$558,03117%35%
12W. Bret Calhoun22425$447,60218%50%
13Dallas Stewart43842$437,55019%33%
14Albert M. Stall, Jr.18554$407,13328%78%
15Mark E. Casse36335$403,4718%31%
16Brendan P. Walsh31553$395,66516%42%
17Joe Sharp45753$379,82616%33%
18J. Larry Jones21452$340,68019%52%
19Gregory D. Foley33763$295,95721%48%
20Wayne M. Catalano14032$285,1290%36%

The horse broke well today,” Gaffalione said. “I had the horse inside, Dunph, going to the lead and then (Gun It) showed a little bit of speed. When I saw they were intent on going I just tried to get him back and got him to relax. He came back to me nicely and settled well down the backside. Got a little keen going into the far turn and wanted to move a little early. But I didn’t want to take too much away from him so I tried to sit as long as I could. He was waiting on horses down the lane but I kept him at task and there was plenty of horse there.”

“Mark (Casse, the trainer) and his team have done a great job,” Gaffalione said. “They’ve had a ton of confidence in this horse the whole way. It’s just an honor to be able to ride the horse. He’s just so professional, trains great and he’s a pleasure to be around.”

Tyler Gaffalione, Rode of War of Will to victory in the G2 Risen Star Stakes at the Fair Grounds
  • 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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