LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen became the all-time leading trainer at Churchill Downs on Friday, saddling Drop Dead Gorgeous to a win in the first race for his 738th victory beneath the Twin Spires.
Asmussen overtook Louisville native Dale Romans, who held the record since Nov. 12, 2017, when he surpassed Hall of Famer Bill Mott, who was the historic track’s leading trainer for over 31 years.
“If anyone knows American horse racing, they know what Churchill Downs means to the sport,” Asmussen said. “This is a very significant honor. I know the people who have been in this spot before, and been here consistently, and for us to have won the most races is a very proud accomplishment.”
Asmussen quickly added to his total, winning the second race with Hulen.
The 54-year-old from Gettsyburg, North Dakota, comes from a racing family. His older brother, Cash, was a champion jockey in France, his mother was a trainer and his father was a jockey and trainer.
Asmussen took out his trainer’s license in 1986 and saddled his first winner that year at age 20. He first brought horses to Churchill Downs in 1996. He has won 22 training titles at the track.
Among his top horses have been four Horse of the Year honorees: Curlin (twice), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Gun Runner (2017). Asmussen has won the Preakness twice, Belmont Stakes, the Breeders’ Cup Classic twice and Dubai World Cup.
LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Arabian Knight is off the Kentucky Derby trail.
Wagering has been suspended on the 3-year-old colt for the Derby’s future wager after owner Amr Zedan announced the decision. Arabian Knight was the second choice on the morning line behind favorite Forte for the May 6 race.
“Trainer Tim Yakteen wasn’t happy with his last work & we feel it’s in Arabian Knight’s best interest not to rush & allow him more time to develop,” Zedan tweeted. “We know he’s a superior talent & our plan is to point him toward a summer and fall campaign.”
Purchased for $2.3 million as a 2-year-old, Arabian Knight won his debut by 7 1/4 lengths at Keeneland last November. He made his 3-year-old debut in the Southwest at Oaklawn in January and won by 5 1/2 lengths.
Arabian Knight had his third workout at Santa Anita.
TAMPA, Fla. — Tapit Trice rallied from last to win the $360,000 Tampa Bay Derby by two lengths and earn qualifying points for the Kentucky Derby.
Ridden by Luis Saez, Tapit Trice ran 1 1/16 miles 1:43.37. The 1-2 favorite in the field of 12 paid $3 to win. The 3-year-old colt earned 50 qualifying points, which places him in the 20-horse field for the Kentucky Derby on May 6.
Hall of Fame trainer Todd Pletcher extended his record for most wins in the Grade 3 race to six. He already has the early Kentucky Derby favorite in Forte, who won the Fountain of Youth at Gulfstream last weekend.
Classic Car Wash was second and Classic Legacy was another 1 1/4 lengths back in third.
Tapit Trice was making his stakes debut after winning two of three starts.
“Once he got clear down the lane, he really extended himself,” Pletcher said. ”I loved the way he finished up. He relished the two turns, and the longer he goes, the better he’ll get.”