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Asmussen edges closer to all-time leader spot

by From Staff Reports | July 21, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.

Trainer Steve Asmussen picked up two more victories Monday to come within 13 wins of becoming the all-time leader among North American-based trainers.

Asmussen, who had 9,433 wins from 45,835 starts entering Tuesday, trails the late Dale Baird by just 12 wins according to Equibase, North American racing's official data gathering organization. Baird recorded 9,445 wins from 56,995 starts.

Asmussen's tally does not include two wins by Curlin in the United Arab Emirates in 2008, which are not recognized by Equibase. The perennial Oaklawn leader won the Grade 3 $300,000 Rebel and the Grade 2 $1 million Arkansas Derby in 2007 to win his first title at the track. Curlin was named Horse of the Year in 2007 and 2008.

One of Asmussen's wins Monday came with Royal Connection, a 2-year-old Connect colt who broke his maiden at Indiana Grand under Francisco Arrieta, Oaklawn's third-leading rider in 2021. Asmussen claimed his record-tying 11th training title at Oaklawn with 60 wins, bringing his tally to 755 wins in the Spa City. He also earned a single-season track record of $6,057,877 in 2021 and holds records at Oaklawn for purse earnings ($41,704,293) and stakes victories (96).

The 55-year-old Hall of Fame trainer has horses entered at Louisiana Downs, Saratoga, Indiana Grand and Ellis Park through this weekend.


Express Train became the third starter in the 2021 Oaklawn Handicap to return and win a stakes race with Saturday's win of the Grade 2 $250,000 San Diego Handicap Saturday at Del Mar.

Ridden by Juan Hernandez, the 4-year-old son of Union Rags finished a half-length ahead of Tripoli in the 1 1/16-mile San Diego Handicap, which is a major local prep for the Grade 1 $750,000 Pacific Classic on Aug. 21. Express Train ($7.80) ran the distance over a fast track in 1:43.37.

Express Train was third in the Grade 2 $1 million Oaklawn Handicap for older horses April 17, his only start outside Southern California. Oaklawn Handicap winner Silver State won the Grade 1 $1 million Med Mile at Belmont Park on June 5 while Guest Suite, who finished seventh, won the $100,000 Hanshin Cup June 26 at Arlington Park.

Express Train, who is trained by John Shirreffs, won for the fourth time in 12 starts to raise his lifetime earnings to $659,300. Shirreffs is best known for training 2010 Horse of the Year and two-time Oaklawn Apple Blossom winner (2008 and 2010) Zenyatta.


Goin' Good was a half-length winner of the $120,000 Coronation Cup Sunday at Saratoga.

The 5 1/2-furlong stake was moved to the main track from the grass due to rain, but the runner-up in the $150,000 Dixie Belle Stakes for 3-year-old fillies had no trouble over the sloppy surface, which mirrored those of the Feb. 28 Dixie Belle.

Under jockey Tyler Gaffalione, Goin' Good ($5.40) went the distance in 1:05.26. The daughter of Congrats is a homebred for Klein Racing and trained by Brad Cox, Oaklawn's third-leading trainer in 2021. She is 4-2-0 in seven lifetime starts with just two career starts on dirt.


HOT SPRINGS VILLAGE -- The Knights of Columbus Charity Golf Tournament to benefit the St. John's Catholic School scholarship fund is set for Aug. 28 at Magellan Golf Course.

The four-person scramble has a 9 a.m. shotgun start, and registration is $340 per team. The entry fee includes green fees, cart, range balls, prizes, a light breakfast and a buffet lunch following the tournament.

Entry forms can be found at or and must be recieved by Aug. 15. Entries and a check payable to Knights of Columbus 10208 should be mailed to Scott Krantz, 4 Alteza Dr., Hot Springs Village, AR 71909.

For more information about the tournament, contact Krantz at [email protected]


The annual CCMC Golf Classic, benefitting the Cooperative Christian Ministries and Clinic, is set for Oct. 15 at Hot Springs Golf & Country Club.

The four-person scramble will have a noon shotgun start for all flights following a luncheon from 10:30 a.m. to noon. The awards presentation will follow the conclusion of play with the top three teams receiving prizes.

Registration is $520, and the deadline to register is Oct. 7. Sponsorships are still available and must be received by Oct. 1. The online registration form can be found at and the sponsorship form is located at

For more information about the tournament, call 501-318-1153 ext. 222 or email [email protected]

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