04/21/2014 8:22AM

Letter to the editor April 20, 2014


Standing up for Asmussen

At a time when it has become very popular to bash trainer Steve Asmussen, I would like to take exception with that. In my nearly 40 years as a trainer, I don’t think I have seen a person more unfairly treated or have seen a quicker rush to judgment. What has gone on over the last two months has been nothing less than a public lynching.

I thought long and hard before I wrote this letter. Why get involved? It’s none of your concern. I am not a close friend of Steve’s, never so much as had a beer with him, never had a meal with him, don’t know his wife or her name. In all honesty, it would be better for me to see Steve railroaded out of the business. We compete for the same owners, the same horses, and are both highly competitive. He has claimed several horses from me and done well with some of them.

But I just could not sit back and watch this continue. I enjoy competing against him.

I have been stabled next to Steve at Saratoga for the last several years, close enough to see what goes on in his barn, and I can tell you there is not a better caretaker of a horse than he is. His horses get the best. Period. His barn is second to none. In my career, I have never had a better neighbor. Is Steve a little brash? Sure. Is he a little opinionated? Absolutely. Is he cruel to his horses? No way. Never.

Steve is being vilified because of a PETA video that he is barely a part of. The video was very ugly. The language was disturbing. However, its contents hardly demand the injustice that Steve is receiving.

The two veterinarians featured in the video, Drs. James Hunt and Mark Cheney, are two of the most respected veterinarians in the business. Their client list reads like the who’s who of racing: Bill Mott, Todd Pletcher, Kiaran McLaughlin, Shug McGaughey, Charles LoPresti, etc. You would have a hard time finding anyone who would not stand up for these two veterinarians. The two medications alluded to in the video (Lasix and thyroid powder) are both legal to have and legal to use. So, what crime has Steve committed?

Scott Blasi has pretty much ruined his own career. He would have a hard time finding a job in an industry in which he has worked for more than 20 years. There isn’t much more harm to do to Scott, but before another man’s career and life are ruined, please let me know: What crime has he been convicted of? I have not seen it. It should take more than an eight-minute, sensationalized PETA video to erase 30 years of hard work.

George R. “Rusty”Arnold II,

Lexington, Ky.

Jon Stewart More than 1 year ago
Rusty, your a class act!!!
john g More than 1 year ago
Let the man have his day in court before convicting him.
Joe Apps More than 1 year ago
He got caught when a team dosnt play good they fire the coach send him packing .
Moe More than 1 year ago
Real men do stand up against injustice and unfair treatment. I applaud you Mr. Arnold.
patrick owens More than 1 year ago
Think you're missing the point, George; who do you think has provided the funds for your decades long career? Setting aside the PETA issue, do you think its possible that the average horseplayer might be concerned about unsound horses being presented as sound to the wagering public, i.e. the funders? The industry is UNDER-regulated; it is disturbing to see so many in the industry attacking PETA instead taking responsibility.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
I love how everyone uses "sensationalized". You know what isn't sensationalized? Blasi's absolutely DISGUSTING demeanor towards the animals he is suppose to be taking care of. That person should not be responsible for horses. NOTHING was sensationalized about it. There was no acting in that video. It was disgusting.
sjm80s . More than 1 year ago
Naturally a trainer would defend a trainer, especially one that you are shacked up with on the backside. George Arnold, you got your letter published but it falls on deaf ears. Asmussen is unethical just like MANY of your colleagues in the training business. You cannot dismiss the endless infractions of abuse to equine from human. Horses running under his tack are a part of this issue. Its not a fantasy. Its real.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
what may i ask is your profession sir ? i am sure it is without sin and lily white.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The issue of undocumented workers pervades all aspects of our society, not just horse racing. The wealthy, and less wealthy owners alike, want to cut costs. What better way to do it than hire workers who cannot complain, ask for a raise or benefits, and can be carted away with those in charge protesting their ignorance? I saw undocumented workers caring for horses at horse shows and since I have become fluent in Spanish, I enjoyed talking with them. One of the times Asmussen was sanctioned was because he gave a filly more than the allowed dosage of pain medication and was not racing her. Medication levels are checked for all the purse winners and others in a race at random. The costs of doing this are enormous but are readily agreed to to keep the sport at higher standards than are observed in sports involving human athletes. Take The Tour d' France as an example. The trainers know that only by keeping their horses as healthy as possible will they be able to compete successfully. Asmussen has a very high number of wins each year which could not happen without giving his charges the best of care.
tim blake More than 1 year ago
Is Arnold the trainer Blasi was referring to in the PETA video when he talked about another trainer jogging "limping" horses at Saratoga? It looked like he was motioning to someone nearby (maybe a neighboring trainer) but I didn't realize Arnold was Asmussen's neighbor at Saratoga when I first saw the video. Maybe when they release all the hours of footage, you will be able to tell. I'm just curious. I don't have anything against Asmussen. I know his horses always look really well taken care of.
Bill Demos More than 1 year ago
What about a few years back when he was getting manhandled in the souths winter meet by brett calhoun every race assmussen entered at every track calhoun was there winning at an incredible clip.At the end of the lone star meet Assmussen complained calhouns horses had equine flu and his stable was quarantined for weeks while Assmussen moved his horses north without any competition from the best claiming trainer in the country.Assmussens achievements stand alone as his underhanded tactics George Arnold is a fool for even writing that garbage he calls an editorialit's bad enough to think it George why write it then sign it?Looks like you backed the wrong horse this time.
WWW More than 1 year ago
calhoun is nowhere close to being "the best claiming trainer in the country".
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I am sure the track veterinarians did not just take Asmussen's word on the equine flu accusation. They would have to find evidence of it before they could quarantine any horses. Are you suggesting the authorities were lying about the need to quarantine? If so, they were committing fraud. This should have been made public. If it wasn't, how did you find out about it?
geno More than 1 year ago
Calhoun can't hold Asmussen's jock!