Saturday was a big day of stakes races at Saratoga, and trainer Steve Asmussen made history. The 55-year-old Hall of Fame trainer earned his 9,446th career win when juvenile Stellar Tap won Race 5 at Saratoga. Go-to jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. was on for the front-running ride and winner at 5-1 odds.
The post-race celebration was captured live from Saratoga Race Course.
“Have the whole family here — God is great!” Asmussen beamed in the postrace live interview with America’s Best Racing.
“How fitting to do this with a 2-year-old owned by the Winchells and who came through Mom and Dad’s farm in Laredo and on Whitney Day. I was definitely blessed,” Asmussen said following the winner’s circle ceremony.
As Asmussen approached the longtime win record of trainer Dale Baird, he credited his family and their support of a business that has allowed him to do something he loves. “I think the saying is extremely (apt): If you do what you love, you don’t work a day in your life,” he said. “We’re unbelievably blessed to be given the opportunity to be in horse racing.”
Asmussen continued, “To be surrounded by people you love and who love you, and you have a common goal, it’s impossible to put into words what horse racing means to me and my whole family and to all the employees.”
Asmussen’s special record-breaking day was not finished with Race 5. He entered Silver State in the $1 million Whitney, but the horse came up short to finish third behind the two favorites while trying win his seventh straight race.
Trainer Steve Asmussen’s Biggest Wins and Moments
Asmussen has never won the Kentucky Derby, but he’s trained three Triple Crown-winning horses, including the great Curlin and fantastic filly Rachel Alexandra, who both won the Preakness. Curlin also won the Breeders’ Cup Classic, as did Asmussen-trained Gun Runner, who is the last horse to win both the Whitney and Breeders’ Cup Classic in the same year (2017). The Hall of Fame trainer has won seven Breeders’ Cup races and conditioned seven Eclipse Award winners.
Steve Asmussen rode horses as a teenager before growing out of the saddle, and he got his trainers license in 1986 at age 20. Asmussen’s first stakes win was in 1987, first graded stakes victory in 1996 and first Grade 1 win in 1999. He’s started almost 46,000 horses in races across the country and has won at a 21% clip during his Hall of Fame training career, with more than $360 million in purse earnings.