10/22/2008 11:00PM

Asmussen brothers have come far


There will be more than one Asmussen participating in this year's Breeders' Cup. Steve is in the spotlight as the trainer of Curlin. In a much quieter role this week is his brother, Cash, a former five-time champion jockey in France. He is at Santa Anita with City Style, who will start in the $1 million Juvenile Turf for his wife, trainer Cheryl Asmussen.

Cash is a consultant and assistant to Cheryl, and has been a day-to-day part of City Style's preparation for the biggest test of his career. Saturday will be the first time both Steve and Cash, world-class horsemen who started out in Laredo, Texas, will be together at the Breeders' Cup.

"Honestly, I would love to say that I would rather see him win one than me, but when you're leading Curlin over, you're not allowed to say that," quipped Steve.

Curlin is the defending champ in the Classic, while Cash's greatest Breeders' Cup success came when he rode Spinning World to victory in the 1997 Mile. The brothers have distinguished themselves in different areas of racing, and in different eras, but remain as tight as when they worked side by side in their parents' small, Southwest-based racing stable. Their relationship might best be described by Cash's actions after he won the Mile at Hollywood Park.

"I flew out that night to ride one for Steve in the first claiming race or so of the day at Churchill," said Cash, 46. "I don't know if he made any money off the commission of the horse, but I think he made plenty of money off his friends because they were betting him that after winning the Breeders' Cup the last thing I'd do was get on a midnight plane and fly to Louisville to ride one in the first for him. I wish he'd have given me a little bit of the action, because I couldn't wait to get there."

Steve, 42, is on top of the racing world right now. He not only is training the reigning Horse of the Year, he also leads all North American trainers in wins and earning. Steve is quick to credit his brother for giving him the scope to dream big. He watched Cash win the Eclipse Award as leading apprentice in 1979, then establish himself as a top-flight journeyman in Europe.

"A tremendous amount of the success I've had was because of his willingness to do something different," Steve said. "For him to leave New Mexico and riding Quarter Horses to go to New York and go to Europe - I don't think I would have ventured out like that.

"At one stage, we thought if we grew up and got a Trans-Am, we'd made it. And then it couldn't have been five or six years after that I remember flying over to France when Cash won the Golden Whip and listening to him give his acceptance speech and thinking, 'We've come a long ways from Webb County.'"

Cash, who retired from riding in 2001, returns to the Breeders' Cup with a closing turf runner in City Style. The horse barreled to a two-length win in his third start to win the $150,000 Sunday Silence on turf at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20. His performance earned him a shot at the Juvenile Turf, in which he is 20-1 on the morning line.

"He's lightly raced, he's improved with all of his races, and he did step up to the plate last time," said Cash, who on occasion will gallop City Style. "I don't think you can deprive a young horse of his chance if he's healthy and happy. Let's give him a shot and see if he can go to the next level."

City Style will be making his first start for Darley, which recently purchased the assets of Stonerside Stable, which bred and owned the son of City Zip. City Style is based at Retama Park, where Cheryl and Cash have a racing stable. The San Antonio-area track is close to the family's El Primero Training Center in Laredo, where City Style received his early training, as did millionaires Suave Dancer, Olympio, Tight Spot, and Pyro. Cash and Cheryl manage El Primero with Cash and Steve's parents, Keith and Marilyn Asmussen.

Keith is a former jockey and Marilyn is a former trainer, and both have spent a lifetime in the industry. This weekend, there might not be a prouder set of parents at Santa Anita.

"I've got boys that have got horses in the Breeders' Cup at the same time," said Marilyn. "It's something that's hard for me to grasp a hold of, for it being real. It's something that you fantasize about, and it's actually going to happen.

"It really is so tremendously satisfying for Keith and I, who started out at such a lower level of racing, and the boys started with us. We were running horses on a small circuit, struggling, hauling on the weekends."

Marilyn said during that period, day care wasn't readily available, nor was it a real financial option, so she brought her sons with her to the barn.

"They started learning their profession at 5 or 6 years old, I suppose," she said. "This has been their business their whole life."