03/22/2014 1:29PM

Asmussen will keep Tapiture, Untapable for Winchell

Coady Photography
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.