Churchill Downs’ Race For the Trainer’s Title Is Heating Up Despite Cool Temps

(Brad Cox, on the left, and Steve Asmussen are in a race for the Trainer’s Title at Churchill Downs / Photos by Holly M. Smith)

Now, we have a horse race at Churchill Downs.

I know that does not sound strange. That’s what normally happens at Churchill Downs, right?

But we have a, err, human horse race going on there, too.

After Sunday’s race card was completed and heading into Wednesday’s action, Louisville-native Brad Cox and Louisville-based Steve Asmussen are nearly dead-locked for the meet’s leading trainer.

And, with just a couple of weeks to go in the Churchill Downs’ Fall Meet, it surely figures to be a race to the wire. Things are starting to heat up, despite the cool temperatures. For sure.

So far, Asmussen has inched ahead by a head-bob. So far, he has saddled 54 horses at the meet. He has made 11 trips to the winner’s circle a few minutes later, and has added 10 seconds and 5 thirds.

Nipping at his heels, though, is Cox. In just 36 saddle jobs so far, Cox has a record of 10-7-5, and he has inched ahead in the race for the most purse money.

So far, Cox’s horses have earned $786,730, while Asmussen’s steeds have collected $703,136.

While it figures to be a tight race the rest of the way between these two, don’t overlook the jobs that trainers Ian Wilkes, Peter Miller and Tom Amoss continue to do under the Twin Spires.

In just 28 starts so far, Wilkes has amassed 6 wins, 2 seconds and 4 thirds.

In 19 starts, Amoss has a record of 6-2-1.

And, then there is Miller — the California transplant. With just 9 starters, Miller has a record of 6-1-1. His win percentage sits at an amazing .67%, and his horses have hit the board a whopping .89% of the time.

Let the races begin.

Here’s a closer look at the top trainers this meet:

1Brad H. Cox361075$786,73028%61%
2Steven M. Asmussen5411105$703,13620%48%
3Ian R. Wilkes28624$433,39221%43%
4Michael J. Maker33336$307,1449%36%
5Peter Miller9611$257,53667%89%
6Thomas M. Amoss19621$252,07432%47%
7Ben Colebrook20412$246,45920%35%
8Dale L. Romans22312$220,14214%27%
9Brian A. Lynch14322$218,36221%50%
10Stanley M. Hough6320$211,80850%83%
11Victoria H. Oliver16321$209,88419%38%
12Kenneth G. McPeek32267$207,5616%47%
13John Alexander Ortiz14324$197,26421%64%
14Brendan P. Walsh15242$194,63313%53%
15Dallas Stewart33237$184,8366%36%
16Rodolphe Brisset11221$177,53018%45%
17Albert M. Stall, Jr.12220$162,37117%33%
18Eddie Kenneally21243$160,16810%43%
19Joe Sharp19240$153,55811%32%
20William I. Mott15123$143,1527%40%
21George R. Arnold, II16124$140,1686%44%
22David R. Vance15221$122,41013%33%
23Chris M. Block6200$116,63733%33%
24David Fawkes10220$116,62320%40%
25Gregory D. Foley13220$108,79515%31%

(Statistics Compiled by Equibase)

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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