Steve Asmussen (born November 18, 1965, in Gettysburg, South Dakota) is an American Thoroughbred racehorse trainer. Born into a horse racing family, his parents, Keith and Marilyn "Sis" Asmussen, are both trainers who run El Primero Training Center off the Mines Road in western Laredo, the seat of Webb County in south Texas. His older brother, Cash Asmussen, is a retired Eclipse Award-winning jockey and a champion in Europe.
Asmussen began racing at age sixteen as a jockey, competing at racetracks in New Mexico, California, and New York for three years until his height and weight ended his riding career. In 1986 he began training Thoroughbreds and American Quarter Horses in New Mexico. In 2002, he led all trainers in Thoroughbred flat racing with 407 wins then in 2004 set a new record for wins by a trainer with 555, surpassing the mark of 496 held by Jack Van Berg since 1976.
Steve Asmussen's colt, Curlin, finished third in the 2007 Kentucky Derby and beat out Derby-winner Street Sense to win the 2007 Preakness Stakes. Curlin finished second in the 2007 Belmont Stakes to filly Rags to Riches, and went on to take the Breeders' Cup Classic on October 27, 2007, at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, New Jersey. The Breeder's Cup is considered the "Super Bowl" of thoroughbred horseracing. Curlin's regular jockey is Robby Albarado.
Asmussen graduated from United High School in Laredo in 1985. He and his wife, Julie Marie Asmussen, have three sons. Asmussen's grandmother, Helen M. Asmussen, died at the age of eighty-three, on Mother's Day, 2007, and was buried on Thursday, May 17, two days before the Preakness victory. She followed every race that her grandsons entered.
Keith Asmussen told Tricia Cortez of the Laredo Morning Times that his fellow Laredoans do not "have a clue how big Laredo is and has been in the horse industry, and after today, it will be even quadrupled. Some of the best horses have been trained and conditioned in Laredo."
Asmussen is the first Laredoan to have a horse win any of the three legs of the Triple Crown.
He was awarded the Eclipse Award as Outstanding Trainer for 2008.
Asmussen was suspended for six months (July 10, 2006-January 10, 2007) for a positive test on one of his horses, No End in Sight, for the drug mepivicaine]. Mepivicaine is an anesthetic which can numb pain in horses who are too sore to race. Asmussen was also fined $2,500.
One of Asmussen's horses at Sunland Park tested positive for Acetylpromazine maleate (Acepromazine) (AKA "Ace") which is used to calm down horses. The horse, Boots Are Walking, was disqualified and Asmussen was fined $1,500. He is currently appealing this ruling and may face an additional six-month suspension.
Asmussen's horses have tested positive for drugs twenty-two times in his career, including the following drugs: Clen Buterol (Ventipulmin), Ketorolec, Mepivicaine, and acepromazine. Asmussen often contended that others gave the horses the medications as a way to sabotage him. Asmussen has used this defense multiple times when appearing before various racing jurisdictions.
In a 2007 Real Sports with Bryant Gumbel interview, Asmussen once again used this defense and suggested he'd be crazy to purposely give a horse too much medication. However, after the interview, Asmussen called Darren Rogers in the PR department at Lone Star Park and said "They got me."
On May 10, 2008, an Asmussen trained filly named Timber Trick tested positive for anesthetic lidocaine at Lone Star Park in Texas. The 3-year-old filly is owned by Gainesway Stable who won her first race on May 10.
In 2008, Asmussen won a single-season record 622 races.