02/18/2008 12:00AM

Asmussen has 4,000th winner


Steve Asmussen, who trains the reigning Horse of the Year, Curlin, won the 4,000th race of his career on Sunday at Oaklawn Park when J.J.'s Bud wired a field of maiden claimers. With the victory, Asmussen became the eighth trainer to hit the 4,000-win plateau.

"I think it's a very significant milestone in what has been a very rewarding career," he said.

Asmussen, 42, began training in 1986. He operates one of the largest stables in North America, with divisions now racing at Aqueduct, Fair Grounds, Gulfstream Park, Oaklawn, Sam Houston Race Park, and Sunland Park.

His stable reached a pinnacle last year, when Curlin won the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic and Preakness, helping to push the stable's earnings to a career-best $23 million. It is a long way from Asmussen's first year of training 21 years ago, when he went 1 for 15 and had stable earnings of $2,324.

"The momentum was pretty slow to build, but I think that we're rolling as good now, if not better than ever, coming off the Curlin year," he said. "So, we're just trying to ride the wave."

Asmussen set a North American record for trainer wins in a year in 2004, with 555. The record shattered the mark of 496 that Jack Van Berg set in 1976. Asmussen also led all trainers in wins in 2005 with 474, and in 2007, with 488.