Asmussen Five Away From 10,000 North American Wins

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt,

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Trainer Steve Asmussen (Middle) and his parents Marilyn and Keith

Photo Credit: Coady Photography

Asmussen Five Away From 10,000 North American Wins

Hall of Fame trainer and perennial Oaklawn leader Steve Asmussen entered Saturday with 9,995 North American career victories after winning three races Friday, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Asmussen, 57, is already North America’s all-time winningest trainer.

Asmussen had 15 horses entered Saturday at four tracks – Oaklawn (seven), Sam Houston Race Park (five), Fair Grounds (two) and Turfway Park (one).

Asmussen entered Saturday with 831 career victories at Oaklawn (No. 2 all time). He has collected a record 12 Oaklawn training titles, all since 2007.

Bourbon Bash to the Rebel

Bourbon Bash will be pointed to the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds at 1 1/16 miles Feb. 25, Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas said Friday morning. The Rebel is Oaklawn’s third Kentucky Derby points race.

Bourbon Bash, in his 3-year-old debut, finished second, beaten two lengths by the promising Gun Pilot, in a one-mile, entry-level allowance race Feb. 4 at Oaklawn. Bourbon Bash, who led in the stretch, was making his first start around two turns since finishing 12th behind eventual Eclipse Award winner Forte in the $600,000 Breeders’ Futurity Stakes (G1) at 1 1/16 miles Oct. 8 at Keeneland. Gun Pilot has won 2 of 3 career starts for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.

“That’s a very, very good horse that won the race, of Steve’s, so we were not that disappointed hooking into him,” Lukas said. “We tried him at the eighth pole. The thing with Bourbon Bash is he’s real feminine and he hasn’t matured yet. If the next two months to three months, he’ll get a little stronger – just physically, he’s OK mentally – he’s got enough tactical speed that we can put him in a race where he belongs. He doesn’t need the seasoning. He needs the strength.”

Other early Rebel probables include Verifying and Giant Mischief for trainer Brad Cox and Red Route One for Asmussen. Cox said he could have additional Rebel starters.

Verifying concluded his 2-year-old campaign with a sixth-place finish behind Forte in the $2 million Breeders’ Cup Juvenile (G1) at 1 1/16 miles Nov. 4 at Keeneland. Verifying resurfaced in a 1-mile entry-level allowance race Jan. 14 at Oaklawn and rolled to a 5 ¼-length victory over Gun Pilot. Verifying ran the distance over a fast track in a meet-best 1:37.23.

Giant Mischief, who will be making his 3-year-old debut in the Rebel, is 2 for 3 overall. The son of Into Mischief ran second in his stakes debut, the $400,000 Remington Park Springboard Mile Dec. 17 at Remington Park, after a poor start.

Red Route One closed from far back to finish second behind unbeaten Arabian Knight in the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles Jan. 28. The Southwest was Oaklawn’s second Kentucky Derby points race.

Nominations to the Rebel closed Friday. The Rebel will offer 100 points (50-20-15-10-5, respectively) to the top five eligible finishers toward the Kentucky Derby.

Following Arabian Knight’s Southwest victory, his Hall of Fame trainer, Bob Baffert, said: “We’ll definitely have something here for the Rebel.”

The Southern California-based Baffert has won the Rebel a record eight times. Cox (four) and Baffert (three) have combined to win seven of Oaklawn’s last 10 Kentucky Derby points races. Oaklawn’s fourth and final Kentucky Derby points race is the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) at 1 1/8 miles April 1.

Eramia Back in the Winner’s Circle

Jockey Richard Eramia’s first mount of the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting was also his first victory after he guided Ring Twice ($6.60) to a front-running 2 ¼-length score in the fifth race Feb. 5.

Ring Twice marked Eramia’s first mount since Oct. 28 at Remington Park. Eramia, 43, said he broke his right wrist in a freak accident Nov. 6 at Remington Park when a horse he was on in a barn flipped.

Eramia said he began getting on horses early last month in preparation for his comeback at Oaklawn. Eramia entered Saturday with 72 career victories at Oaklawn, including 27 at the 2019 meeting when he finished fifth in the standings. Eramia wintered last year at Sam Houston Race Park.

“I love it here,” Eramia said during training hours Friday morning. “I love the people and the racing.”

Eramia rode Ring Twice for trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel, a longtime client. They also teamed to win the $200,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies in 2018 at Oaklawn with Cosmic Burst.

“For one of the best,” Eramia said, referring to Von Hemel. “One of my favorite people.”

Eramia also has three other stakes victories at Oaklawn, including the inaugural $250,000 Oaklawn Mile for older horses in 2019 aboard Exulting for trainer Mike Maker. A native of Uruguay, Eramia entered Saturday with 2,608 career North American victories. His first came in 2005.

Finish Lines

Eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana, Jr. won Friday’s ninth race aboard favored Candy Caramel ($4.80) for trainer Peter Miller. It was the 695th career Oaklawn victory for Santana (No. 7 all time). … Three jockeys recorded riding doubles Friday, including meet-leader Cristian Torres, who won the fourth race aboard Royal King ($8.80) for trainer Mac Robertson and the seventh race aboard Saqeel ($7) for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Francisco Arrieta and Isaac Castillo also rode two winners Friday. … In addition to Royal King, Robertson and owner Joseph Novogratz teamed to win Friday’s third race with favored Sisaway Now ($4.40). … Bones and Roses ($20.20) became the first Lasix-free bonus program winner of the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting in Friday’s second race. Kylee Jordan rode Bones and Roses for trainer Miguel Angel Silva and owner Thumbs Up Racing (David Cobb), who collected an additional $1,560 for the victory, or 10 percent of the winner’s share of the purse. Oaklawn’s Lasix-free bonus program doesn’t cover Kentucky Derby or Kentucky Oaks qualifying races (qualifying points are only awarded to horses that don’t race on the anti-bleeder medication). Oaklawn’s Lasix-free bonus program was inaugurated in 2015.