03/22/2014 3:23PM

Blasi fired by Asmussen following PETA complaints, video

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Shigeki Kikkawa
Scott Blasi worked for Steve Asmussen for 18 years. He originally went to work for him as an exercise rider at Remington Park.

Scott Blasi, the long-time assistant to trainer Steve Asmussen, has been fired in the wake of a controversy in which both men are accused by an animal rights group of mistreating horses.

“Scott Blasi has been relieved of his responsibilities,” Asmussen wrote in a text message Saturday afternoon.

“I have been informed that I have been let go,” Blasi confirmed in a text message. “I understand and respect that decision.”

Blasi had been based this winter at Fair Grounds, where, through Friday, Asmussen was the leading trainer with 57 wins.

Asmussen and Blasi are the subject of 10 complaints filed by the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA), which had one of its employees go undercover and work as an employee for four months for the Asmussen barn at Churchill Downs and Saratoga.

The complaints include animal abuse in the form of chronic misuse of therapeutic medications as well as the suggested use of electrical devices by jockeys on horses. The complaints also deal with the use of undocumented workers, paying those workers less than minimum wage, and getting those workers to falsify identification documents.

The complaints have sparked investigations by both the New York State Gaming Commission and Kentucky Horse Racing Commission.

In releasing those complaints earlier this week, PETA also released a nine-minute video - edited down from more than seven hours of footage taken - that shows Blasi discussing the use of electrical devices known as batteries. Blasi uses several vulgarities throughout the video including one directed at owner Ahmed Zayat, who he said should have retired 2011 Kentucky Derby runner-up Nehro well before the horse died of colic on Kentucky Derby Day 2013. Nehro had chronic foot problems, and the poor condition of his feet are detailed in the video.

Blasi worked for Asmussen for 18 years, first galloping horses for him at Remington Park. During Blasi’s time as Asmussen’s top assistant, Asmussen trained two-time Horse of the Year Curlin and Horse of the Year Rachel Alexandra and won the Eclipse Award as North America’s top trainer in 2008-09. Blasi was credited with winning 205 races from 1,040 starters during a six-month period in 2006-07 when Asmussen served a six-month suspension for a medication violation.

Asmussen ranks second all-time in wins in North America and fifth in purse earnings. He was a candidate for the Hall of Fame but on Friday was removed from the ballot by National Racing Museum and Hall of Fame officials.

“When you think about Scott being with us for [12] years and what we have accomplished together, it is just tremendous,” Asmussen told author Karen M. Johnson in the book “The Training Game” published in 2009.

In the book, Blasi talked about what it was like to work for Asmussen, saying the job regularly required 14-hour days.

“It’s not for everybody,” Blasi told Johnson. “It’s high-pressure. There are so many things we try to manage to make things as smooth as we want it. I first started galloping for Steve at Remington. To see where [the stable] has gone since and everything we’ve went through to get to this place . . . there is a lot of emotion involved. The fighting and everything you do to get to this point. The hard part is staying on top. Not every day is a great day. Mistakes are made. You try to be as perfect as possible. 

“The one thing about working for Steve is that from the outside it seems like so much. A lot of people come up to me and say: ‘I don’t know how you do it.’ When you’re in the middle of it, it doesn’t seem overwhelming. I personally like the work because I don’t do well [with idle time], so it’s a good job for me.”

In the book, Blasi said beyond the working relationship he had with Asmussen, there is friendship.

“I think everybody has a certain amount of people they chose to confide in,” Blasi said. “Steve and I definitely have that kind of relationship. Whether it’s business or personal, Steve has been a very good friend to me.”

- additional reporting by Marcus Hersh

KissmeCatexoxo More than 1 year ago
I didn't watch the video and of course I want to side with PETA figuring they want to do the right thing But I recently read that PETA purchased a large amount of stock in Sea World ?!!
Maria Aria More than 1 year ago
Yes, my nonprofit does that as well. If you purchase stock, you're then able to speak at stockholder meetings. Great way to talk about change, and to discourage other stockholders from supporting the company.
knttiger More than 1 year ago
None of the medication given to the horses was a banned substance...none. Scott was his own worst enemy. The PETA video appears worse because of the crass language he used to describe the animals and the owner. Nothing new on the backstretch rumors regarding Borel and Super Saver. Lot's of people thought the only way he got home in the derby was with a little help from Duracell. Steve has trained for a friend for a number of years, and it's obvious watching him in the barn before and after a race that he genuinely cares for the horses he trains. I I believe the only choice Steve had was to dismiss Scott, and calm down this PETA produced firestorm.
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
They disregarded the rules everyday for 18 years. Could have happened to anyone. I would give both men a second chance.
Kram Hslew More than 1 year ago
Who cares? I work for a living.
Scott More than 1 year ago
Blasi will resurface again as a reformed trainer , putting on an act that hes sorry for everything. Asmussen will throw him and others under the bus and claim he knows nothing and everyone will believe him. sorry. not this kid, ban them for life if evidence can hold up and bring any charges possible against them and ALL others caught cheating. they are cheating everyone out of their money , clients and bettors and that's same as being a thief. this helps the industry go further down the drain.
Marlene MacFarlane More than 1 year ago
I would of fired Blasi as well. Ridiculous what he said in the video's whether he was trying to impress the videographer or not - he was posturing with his stupid mouth! My guess is that Mr. Amussmen was disgusted at Blasi's unprofessionalism and bad mouthing - especially the part about tricking the track vet.and Nehro's owners..Who even thinks of that let alone says it?? Perhaps Mr. Amussmen told by an owner or owners - Blasi goes or my horses do (I would of certainly said that) (If your livelyhood is threatened you would fire that person too) I personally think that all barns and stalls should have web cams. I have met several several back stretch employees over the past few years and they LOVE what they do and are passionate about the horses they take care of. Blasi's mouth made me think that he is frustrated and not happy or was trying to look like a big deal to this videographer.
christopher deem More than 1 year ago
So why was Scott Blasi fired? Because he used crass language referring to an owner? I saw nothing in PETA video that suggested abuse. Scott Blasi might use a lot of nasty language but I'm certainly not convinced he's the horse abusing monster that PETA seems determined to make him out to be.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Wow. Maybe you should call your boss a f***ing cu*t and see how far that gets you. While you are at it, tell the world how you are going to cheat to hide a lameness from the stewards next time you want to run a horse that they scratched. Then, ask your jockey if he has the buzzer ready. See how many people find you a wonderful, benign horse lover.
Joe Consolo More than 1 year ago
How long do you think they been cheating the public with the use of batteries,steroids,and do you think he is alone?Jeff Mullins was so honest when he came on TVG and said the public is crazy to bet on horses.
tim carmen More than 1 year ago
since racing began will continue till end
patrick bento More than 1 year ago
witch hunt again by peta against the industry. asmussens horses when on the track look impeccable..meaning they are happy and well cared for. do you remember the HBO Lucky series...gone? i wonder who paid for this undercover person for 4 months of work that resulted in 7 hours of videotape edited to minutes in order to come up with use or misuse of medications, use of illegal aliens (inherent and important/ symbiotic), and then some incendiary comments from Blasi etc...not exactly productive in terms of time vs result.. to be clear i love horses and racing and cruelty to any animals should never be allowed but this discussion can only end up bad for all involved except the unelected PETA. should we bring up the animal cruelty accusations against them.....google who is in charge of PETA
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Get a clue - no one "edited" Blasi saying he'd lie to the stewards to get a lame horse into the starting gate. No one forced him to ask his jockey if he had the buzzer. Read the documents that were presented with the video: Teardrop was run in a stakes race FOUR days after Blasi was upset that MF horse always had something wrong with her. you are just an Excuse maker!
Kenny More than 1 year ago
I'll ask this question what in God's name did Asmussen/Blasi have to gain by running a supposedly lame Nehro AND/OR not telling the owner the horse was lame? The horse was laid up twice for long stretches, so its not like he hadnt been injured or been takin out of training already.................IT MAKES ZERO SENSE...................WITCHHUNT!!!!!!!! Now if Asmussen wants to can Blasi for speaking poorly of an owner or whatever thats his choice on how to manage his stable..................but last I heard this is America free speech etc so saying bad words about an owner is not grounds for losing your right to pursue your trade and having your license revoked no matter what witch hunting or cronyisn is going on at the state racing commission
Jim Spoor More than 1 year ago
Freedom of speech, yes...but that doesn't mean there are no repercussions...Blasi can pursue his trade...just not with Asmussen.
Westin Niles More than 1 year ago
f_ck off.
Gaye Goodwin More than 1 year ago
Yes, it makes zero sense to someone to does not understand about day rates.