2016 Fasig-Tipton Stable Tour with Steve Asmussen

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Steve Asmussen is on the doorstep of a huge, perhaps even monstrous, stretch at Saratoga Race Course and beyond. The two-time winner of the Eclipse Award for outstanding trainer, Asmussen will be inducted into the Hall of Fame next month (Editor’s note: Originally published in July 30 issue of The Saratoga Special.)

He could add to his major successes – which include 7,370 victories and training fellow Hall of Famers Curlin and Rachel Alexandra – this weekend when he sends out Belmont Stakes winner Creator in today’s Grade 2 Jim Dandy, Holy Boss in the Grade 1 Alfred G. Vanderbilt at Saratoga and Gun Runner in Sunday’s Grade 1 Haskell Invitational at Monmouth Park.

Asmussen set a record for most wins by a trainer in a single season when he saddled 650 winners in 2009, breaking his own record of 621 wins set the year before. Since he began training in 1986, Asmussen’s runners have earned $244,509,839. He’s already won a race at the Saratoga meet and hopes for more.

“Saratoga is the pinnacle of horse racing,” Asmussen said Friday. “We’ve been fortunate to have some great horses to run here. With the Hall of Fame induction this year, that’s something to definitely share with friends and family and all the people that have helped us to receive an honor such as this.”

Asmussen’s Saratoga string consists of two barns adjacent to the Oklahoma Training Track. This year, he has a host of 2-year-olds as well as an impressive contingent of 3-year-olds and older horses.

“We’ve been obviously blessed with great opportunities and think that we have some very quality young horses as well as some pretty accomplished older ones,” Asmussen said.

Asmussen walked down the shedrows with The Special’s Brandon Valvo Friday morning.

Ever So Clever: Owned by Clearview Stable, 2-year-old Medaglia d’Oro filly won her debut by 7 1/4 lengths in a maiden special weight July 1 at Churchill Downs. “One start and a win at Churchill. Hopefully racing in the Adirondack (Aug. 13). She’s a very classy filly. Both her and her neighbor, Made Me Shiver, are quality 2-year-old fillies with very good dispositions and we’re very fortunate to have them.”

Made Me Shiver: Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings’ homebred 2-year-old Maclean’s Music filly won her debut before a fourth in the Grade 3 Schuylerville Opening Day. “She came out of the Schuylerville in good shape. Still some discussions with the owners as far as what her next race may be. A couple possibilities with her. Obviously a talented 2-year-old filly.”

Holy Boss: Last seen in the winner’s circle after the 2015 Amsterdam, 4-year-old son of Street Boss runs in today’s Grade 1 Vanderbilt. Third in the Grade 2 True North June 10, he breezed a half-mile in :50.71 Monday on the Oklahoma. “Last year’s Amsterdam winner with a good chance in the Vanderbilt on Saturday. He’s always been easy to be around and a quality horse. It’s nice to know he handles the racetrack. He’s run some extremely tough races since then, third in the King’s Bishop and fourth in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint and I thought the True North could have went a little smoother for us at Belmont, but the addition of blinkers hopefully will cure that.”

Creator: “Does not need descriptions,” Asmussen said as he walked past the Tapit colt’s stall. To say the Belmont Stakes and Arkansas Derby winner, who races in today’s Jim Dandy, is training well is “just pointing out the obvious.” Most recently, he breezed a half in :49.56 Monday over the Oklahoma. “He did receive some R&R, some rest at WinStar. It was warranted from all of his racing in early spring. He has run several times in the spring. He was definitely due for a little break.”

Gettysburg: Asmussen took over the training of the Pioneer Ofthe Nile colt from Todd Pletcher before the Belmont, where he served as pacesetter for Creator and finished eighth. Gettysburg has recorded three workouts since July 12, including 5 furlongs in 1:01.79 Tuesday on the Oklahoma. “A welcome addition to the barn. He received a little time off at WinStar as well as Creator after the Belmont. Obviously a very nice 3-year-old. He stayed at WinStar a week longer than Creator did and then moved to Saratoga with the barn. Straightforward, all good.”

Gun Runner: Winner of the Louisiana Derby, Risen Star and last time out in the Matt Win, he finished third behind Nyquist and Exaggerator in the Kentucky Derby. Those three meet again in Sunday’s Haskell. “This is Gun Runner’s stall. Waiting for him to get back from the Haskell.”

Impressive Edge: A 2-year-old colt by Harlan’s Holiday, Impressive Edge endured an eventful debut when sixth in June 23 maiden at Churchill. He returns in today’s first race going 5 1/2 furlongs on the grass. “Disappointing first race, but the circumstances were pretty extreme in that we had a deluge and an hour and fifteen minute delay in the races that night, so there’s a lot of things that will go smoother than his first race. It was a twilight card and it was delayed because of a storm going through. I don’t think he did (learn from his first race). Nothing went right. It was more confusing than helpful.”

Tip Tap Tapizar: Whispering Oaks Farm’s 2-year-old Tapizar colt won his debut June 11 at Churchill and followed it up there with a third in the Grade 3 Bashford Manor July 2. He breezed a half in :50.05 Sunday over the Oklahoma track. “Broke his maiden at Churchill impressively. Was third second time out in the Bashford Manor in a very fastly run race. He’s trained nicely up here and is a possibility to run in the Saratoga Special up here on August 14.”

Bowie: Asmussen’s first winner of the meet, a $750,000 purchase by LNJ Foxwoods. She won her debut by half-length in gate-to-wire fashion. “Won Opening Day. Beautiful Malibu Moon filly with a very unique blue eye. She’s an extremely talented filly that we expect to be in a stake next time out. She came out of the race in great shape.”

Vertical Oak: J. Kirk and Judy Robison’s 2-year-old daughter of Giant Oak cost her owners $20,000 at last year’s Fasig-Tipton Kentucky October yearling sale. “She’s a 2-year-old maiden that was fourth on the turf on Wednesday. Came out of it in very good shape.”

Iron Fist: Previously trained on the West Coast for Jerry Hollendorfer, Tapit ridging was second in last year’s Pennsylvania Derby. He’s won three of 10 starts, earned $415,600 and most recently finished third in the Grade 3 Native Diver Stakes Nov. 28 at Del Mar. “An older 4-year-old coming back. Probably three weeks away from being ready off of a break. Jerry Hollendorfer had him in California last year and did extremely well. Just a few more racing opportunities in the East than out there.”

Pretty Boy Flash: Jerry Durant’s Gone Astray colt finished fifth in May 19 debut at Churchill and third here last Saturday, both times in maiden special weight company. “A 2-year-old that was third on the second day of the meet here. Came out of it very well. Ran 5 1/2 (furlongs) that day. He will benefit from races going further. Came out of it in good shape.”