01/05/2018 12:10PM

2017 Eclipse Awards: Steve Asmussen

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Steve Asmussen started diffferent 489 horses in 2017, the most of any North American trainer, but it was his stellar training and management of one in particular, Horse of the Year favorite Gun Runner, that highlighted his year and made him an Eclipse Award finalist.

In a season when many horses had ups and downs, Gun Runner never took a step back, maintaining a level of brilliance under Asmussen’s direction that resulted in graded stakes victories in the Razorback, Stephen Foster, Whitney, Woodward, and Breeders’ Cup Classic. His only loss along the way came when second to Arrogate in the Dubai World Cup in March. Gun Runner amassed earnings of over $6.9 million in the U.S. and Dubai during 2017.

Although Gun Runner was the clear standout performer for Asmussen, his vast stable was far from a one-horse show. He won 380 races in 2017, second most in North America, and his purse earnings of over $19.6 million ranked him fourth.

He won 15 graded stakes. In addition to Gun Runner’s wins, other graded stakes victories for Asmussen in 2017 came with Copper Bullet in the Saratoga Special, Ever So Clever in the Fantasy, Hence in the Iowa and Sunland Park derbies, Iron Fist in the Cornhusker, Terra Promessa in the Bayakoa and duPont Distaff, Untrapped in the Oklahoma Derby, and Vertical Oak in the Ms. Preakness and Prioress.

The Asmussen-trained Lookin At Lee rallied to be second in the 2017 Kentucky Derby behind Always Dreaming.

Asmussen, 52, is second-winningest trainer in North American racing history behind Dale Baird. He won Eclipse Awards as outstanding trainer in 2008 and 2009, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2016.