03/22/2014 1:29PM

Asmussen will keep Tapiture, Untapable for Winchell

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Tapiture, winner of the Southwest Stakes, will remain in the care of trainer Steve Asmussen.

With a plethora of negativity swirling around him, trainer Steve Asmussen got some good news Saturday when it was revealed that his top 3-year-olds for the Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks will remain in his care.

David Fiske, the racing manager for owner Ron Winchell, confirmed on Saturday that Asmussen would continue to train Tapiture and Untapable, leading contenders for the Derby and Oaks, respectively.

“I think it’s just too close to the second and third of May to take these horses away from the people, the routine, the feed, and everything they’ve known for the last two years and put them someplace else,” Fiske said. “That’s not in the horses’ best interests.”

Fiske, who on Friday told Daily Racing Form that no decision had been made on whether those horses would stay with Asmussen, said Asmussen has been told they will indeed stay with him.

“He’s aware of that,” Fiske said.

[ROAD TO THE KENTUCKY DERBY: Prep races, point standings, replays]

Asmussen and his top assistant, Scott Blasi, have been accused by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) of mistreating horses by overusing therapeutic medications as well as employing undocumented workers and having those workers alter identification forms.

A PETA employee went undercover and worked for the Asmussen stable at Churchill Downs and Saratoga from April to August last summer.

The accusations by PETA are the subject of investigations by both New York Gaming Commission and the Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

Fiske was asked if the controversy surrounding Asmussen could take away some of the enjoyment for him and Winchell in the prelude to the Derby and Oaks.

“It’s an obvious distraction,” Fiske said. “I’m talking to you on the phone so it has to be a distraction. I don’t believe you can’t enjoy having the favorite for the Oaks and co-second choice for the Derby. We’ll certainly enjoy it.”

Tapiture, winner of the Southwest and runner-up in the Rebel, is being pointed to the Arkansas Derby on April 12. Untapable, dominant winner of the Rachel Alexandra Stakes, is being pointed to next Saturday’s Fair Grounds Oaks.

On Friday, owner Ahmed Zayat announced via social media that he instructed Asmussen to scratch runners he had entered for Zayat on Sunday at Oaklawn and Fair Grounds.

Mark Redden More than 1 year ago
PETA should investigate Tampa Bay Downs where General Mgr Pete Berube's Mktg asst Margo Flynn who races horses there??? was accused of injecting horses with shaky vet and all swept under the rug
Mark Redden More than 1 year ago
Actually it was Flynns trainer and housemate Jane Cibelli who was accused
pablo More than 1 year ago
Blasi and Asmussen have about 18 years of unspoiled success in racing. Good. As the years and bigger race money roll by so do the winds of greed. More wins needed. More big pocket owners wanting unreasonable results from arguably the...(genetically most dumb downed generation of breed this human race will ever know ( hello steroids again and all your pharmacy friends...Be proud A-Rod--you're still able to walk)) Cloned sheep have a better sense of dignity and virtue than most of the large training outfits in this country. They industry as a whole will usher Steve to his own soul eating lions when this passes. Blasi will laugh at 18 years of Roller Coaster fun. The ride...the dance...it was all part of the Circus we know as Horse Racing in the good 'ol USA....
Jeff More than 1 year ago
I have watched this video several times. Many think PETA has much more. My take is they presented what they thought was the most damning video. As a hands on racehorse owner here is my take, being as objective as I can be: Blasi is foul mouthed and unbecoming on tape, but cursing every other word does not constitute abuse. All the drugs mentioned are legal and therapeutic. If they are being administered by licensed vets, then perhaps you can make a case for malpractice (WITH MUCH MORE EVIDENCE THAN THIS) but hardly abuse by the trainers. With regards to Lasix, 90% of the horses in the U.S. run on it. Lasix is a diuretic that removes water from the blood stream. The purpose is to lower blood pressure so there is less likelihood of the horse bursting air sacs, bleeding, and blocking the airways of its respiratory system. In 25 years being involved, I've never heard any trainer say the purpose is to lighten the horse to run faster. That is so ludicrous as removing fluids reduces stamina. Just ask Gatorade. Judging by Blasi's boisterous nature, AND the fact that you don't have NEHRO's race record with the hoof problems he describes, I would surmise his description of the hoof situation was embellished and exaggerated. Many thoroughbreds have thin hoof walls and bad hoof circulation. Hoof maintenance, special shoes, glued shoes, special pads, etc are an everyday process in any barn. Keeping a horse with bad feet sound enough to compete is the mark of an excellent horseman, not abuse. The buzzer. Know in many parts as "a machine". This is a nine volt battery used to scare the horse and create an extra rush of adrenaline. They are illegal. I have been hit by one several times before. Not comfortable, but I can only imagine that the whip would hurt much more. Highly illegal, but hardly abusive. But with regards to the video... The only thing I hear is some old timers talking about the use back in the day. I'm not naive enough to believe it doesn't still go on, but how do you tie Asmussen to the illegal activity from what's shown? Maybe he abused his help. Agreed paying them less than minimum wage would be illegal, helping them forge documents would be illegal. But here are people that don't want to join gangs, don't want to take govt welfare, aren't marching in the streets for free health care, free education, and free citizenship without following the procedure. They are just here to work and possibly create a better life for themselves. Horse racing gives them and thousands more that opportunity. What a backwards situation when the villains are the people trying to keep animals sound, viable, and competitive, while helping those that come to this country get a leg up (pardon the pun), and the heroes are those (PETA) that do nothing but destroy.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Whats the shame is that the ethical trainers do not win Kentucky Derby's. The chemists win Derby's. By the way, I haven't heard any trainers make any statements about these allegations against their peer. Interesting isn't it that an entire industry goes silent. You all know who you are.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
By the way, take a look at Steve Asmussen's strike rate at Aqueduct for 2014 accurate as of this moment. (31 - 1 - 5 - 4 - .03) Um, for everywhere not named Aqueduct, it looks like this for 2014. (389 - 94- 75 - 64 - .24) OUTSTANDING START HUH! Why the steep drop off at Aqueduct Steve? They're watching aren't they? Why aren't you all out there watching? Why stay so naive when trainers are conducting business so immorally? Keep your eyes open folks. It's your money people like this cost you.
Edward More than 1 year ago
"I think its too close to the 2nd or 3rd of May"….Really? Isn't this issue? Winning the horse race takes a back seat to ethics. This owner Winchell is a dirtbag. The truth is that Blasi was all bluster and mouth. The two worse allegations on the video are about the owner of Nehro(according to Blasi it was Zayat's greed that kept the horse in training) and Ausmussen who blanket medicates all of his horses without a diagnostic reason. The horses don't k ow that Blasi calls them names.
art More than 1 year ago
Blasi only said the truth on what is a cruel business practice. He will be blacklisted and better find a job in Russia.
art More than 1 year ago
The peta worker could go into 80% of the stables and come out with the same report. Why is this so shocking?
TEDK215 More than 1 year ago
it certainly isn't "shocking" to Lukas and Stevens as they joke about it at their lavish dinner table all funded by the clueless bettors!
David LaKari More than 1 year ago
This just makes me sick the owners say for the good of the horses they will stay with Ausmussen I think it's more for the owners. I for one horseplayer am getting sick of this game. I used to look forward to betting the horses on the weekend and thought I was a decent handicapper but the game has really changed and not for the better. I think the bettors need to take a few months off and not bet then you will see the game get straightened out
606 More than 1 year ago
Absolutely. This has nothing to do with what is, "in the horses’ best interests.” It's all about winning at any costs, even if it means giving your horses a thyroid medication when they don't have any thyroid issues. The game is circling the drain. When it finally dies the industry people need only look in the mirror to see who to blame.
Meydan Rocks More than 1 year ago
And what about the kids? I hope not a single one of Asmussen's little kids ever reads this stuff about their father. They don't deserve this.
Jim Rockford More than 1 year ago
WTF? His kids deserve to know the TRUTH about their old man, period. The fact that he ran Blasi so fast does not bode well for him. Neither does the ten or so investigations now underway or the HOF quickly removing his name from consideration. That's an AWFUL lot of smoke for there to ne NO fire. Jus sayin....
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Wow, you are a complete and helpless moron.
Susan Huart More than 1 year ago
This isn't about his kids. Give your sympathy to the poor horses!