Asmussen Hits 800 Oaklawn Wins, Edges Closer to Holthus Record - Horse Racing News | Paulick Report

Asmussen Hits 800 Oaklawn Wins, Edges Closer to Holthus Record

Trainer Steve Asmussen, center, reaches Oaklawn milestone with Chakra’s victory in Friday’s sixth race

It was a good Friday for Steve Asmussen, who became just the second trainer in Oaklawn history to reach 800 career victories when favored Chakra ($4.20) won the sixth race under Ricardo Santana Jr.

The late Bob Holthus, based on Daily Racing Form chart results and statistics from Equibase, racing's official data gathering organization, had a record 867 training victories at Oaklawn before his death in November 2011.

Asmussen, a 2016 inductee into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame, collected his 799th Oaklawn victory in Friday's second race with favored Hightailing ($3.40), who also was ridden by Santana.

After finishing seventh with his next starter Friday, Ottoman Empire in the fourth race, Asmussen reached the milestone with class-dropping Chakra, who beat older $10,000 female sprinters by 1 ¼ front-running lengths for owners Troy and Mike Langford of Jonesboro, Ark.

“On our way, you know,” Asmussen said following Friday's ninth and final race. “We feel like we're in the middle of it and it's a great milestone, but we've got a lot of winning left to do at Oaklawn.”

Based on volume and win rate, Asmussen should threaten Holthus' Oaklawn record next season. Friday's double pushed Asmussen's 2021-2022 meet-leading total to 45. He had 14 horses entered Friday and Saturday.

Asmussen is an 11-time Oaklawn training champion, capturing titles in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2021. Asmussen and the late Hall of Famer Henry Forrest share the Oaklawn record for career training titles with 11. Holthus won nine Oaklawn training titles.

Asmussen started his first horse at Oaklawn in 1989 and won his first race Feb. 9, 1996, with Honest J. The following day, Asmussen won the Mountain Valley Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters with Valid Expectations, who was ridden by the trainer's older brother, French champion jockey Cash Asmussen.

Steve Asmussen has said the success of Valid Expectations, who won the Bachelor Stakes later in the 1996 Oaklawn meeting, opened doors to better stock because the colt was the first nationally prominent horse he trained.

“He was everything for us,” Asmussen said.

Asmussen entered Saturday with 800 victories, including 96 stakes, from 3,965 starts and purse earnings of $44,836,693 in his Oaklawn career. The stakes victories and purse earnings are Oaklawn records.

Asmussen set a single-season Oaklawn record for purse earnings at the 2021 meet ($6,057,877) and has at least one stakes victory at every Oaklawn meeting since his first with Valid Expectations in 1996. The 26-year stakes streak also is an Oaklawn record.

Asmussen became the all-time winningest trainer in North American history last August and entered Saturday with 9,710 in his career, according to Equibase. Asmussen had 9,712 worldwide because Equibase doesn't recognize Curlin's two victories in 2008 in the United Arab Emirates.

Asmussen, 56, started his first horse and saddled his first winner in 1986. He was honored with Eclipse Awards as the country's outstanding trainer in 2008 and 2009.

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