07/06/2006 11:00PM

Asmussen decides not to appeal, will serve six-month suspension


Steve Asmussen, the second leading trainer in North America in wins and earnings, on Friday said he has decided not to contest in court a six-month suspension levied against him by the Louisiana Racing Commission for a medication infraction. He is to begin serving the suspension on Monday, and is expected to be out through Jan. 10.

Asmussen was issued the suspension after No End in Sight tested positive for mepivicaine, a local anesthetic, following a March 24 race at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, La., in which he finished eighth. Asmussen appealed the original ruling, which was issued in May, but the commission upheld the suspension at a meeting on June 23 and fined the trainer $2,500.

After that, Asmussen had a period of time to decide whether he would challenge the ruling in court.

"I'm not going to appeal it," he said Friday. "The pending days weigh pretty heavily on you."

Asmussen, 40, said the expense and time involved in a court appeal are among the reasons he is choosing to serve his suspension.

"I didn't, nor did anyone in my employment, administer mepivicaine to No End in Sight," he said.

Mepivicaine is a Class 2 drug. Medications in that category are defined as drugs that have the potential to affect performance, according to the Association of Racing Commissioners International.

Scott Blasi, a longtime assistant trainer to Asmussen who is based at Churchill Downs, is expected to train most of the horses in Asmussen's far-flung stable. As of Friday, Asmussen had divisions at Arlington Park in Illinois, Belmont Park in New York, Churchill Downs in Kentucky, Lone Star Park in Texas, and Louisiana Downs.

"The majority of the owners have decided to turn their horses over to Scott Blasi at this point," Asmussen said. "He has a longstanding relationship with the owners and is capable of doing an excellent job."

Blasi has worked for Asmussen for 11 years. As a trainer, he has won with 19 of 65 starters.

Asmussen is also facing a six-month suspension in New Mexico for a positive for the Class 3 drug acepromizine, a commonly used tranquilizer. Asmussen has been granted a stay, and the case has not yet gone before the New Mexico Racing Commission.

Asmussen, who has led the nation in wins three of the last four years, has won 235 races and $7,456,723 in purses in North America in 2006. He set a record for trainer wins in North America with 555 in 2004.