07/09/2006 11:00PM

Blasi steps in while Asmussen is out

Email
Horsephotos
"We've got such a good infrastructure already set up that hopefully not much of anything will change. We'll all keep doing our jobs and winning races." - Scott Blasi

LOUISVILLE, Ky. - The name representing one of North America's premier Thoroughbred stables has changed, but virtually nothing else will.

Steve Asmussen began serving a six-month suspension Monday, but his juggernaut stable will continue humming on all cylinders on at least six fronts. Asmussen flew home to Dallas early Monday from Churchill Downs, where he won with one of three starters Sunday on what would be his last day at a racing facility until early next year.

Asmussen decided last week not to exhaust all of his available appeals of a suspension that stems from a positive test for mepivicaine - a local anesthetic - for one of his starters in a March 24 race at Evangeline Downs in Louisiana. The 40-year-old Asmussen is a perennial leader among North American trainers, having won more than 3,000 races, including a single-year record 555 in 2004. He is this year's second-leading trainer in both wins (241) and earnings ($7.7 million).

During his absence, the far-flung Asmussen operation will be run by longtime assistant Scott Blasi, who has been located the last few months at Churchill Downs and will move next week to Saratoga with many of the top runners from the nearly 200-horse stable.

"A whole lot of people are involved in an operation this big," said Blasi. "For one person like me to take all the credit would be ridiculous. Fortunately, we've got such a good infrastructure already set up that hopefully not much of anything will change. We'll all keep doing our jobs and winning races."

Blasi, 32, has worked for Asmussen since 1995. His name was frequently before the racing public in late 1999, when he also served as the stable trainer while Asmussen waited out a 45-day suspension for another Louisiana medication violation.

Blasi grew up in Caney, Kan., a town of about 3,000 people. His father, Joel Blasi, was a Quarter Horse trainer who has since retired and now lives just outside of Oklahoma City. Scott Blasi is one of four children; an older brother, Greg, is the lead outrider at Churchill.

Blasi now will be coordinating the other strings of Asmussen horses, headed by Toby Sheets at Belmont Park, Darren Fleming at Lone Star Park, Kristin Crawford at Turfway Park (soon to be at Ellis Park), Billy Lopes at Louisiana Downs, Tony Mathiason at Arlington Park, and Pablo Ocampo at Remington Park.

Meanwhile, Asmussen said he "won't know what to do with myself" while at home in Texas with his wife, Peggy, and three young sons.

"One thing I know I won't be doing is setting an alarm clock and saying, 'Okay, who wants to go to the barn with me this morning?' " he said.

Asmussen said he will receive no monetary compensation that trainers normally are paid for their commissions on wins and placings.

"I'm out," he said. "It's all Scott now. He's got a combination of talent and work ethic that is very rare. I can't say enough good things about him. I can't think of anybody who deserves more than what he'll be getting."