Barn Notes 12/7/23
Compiled by Robert Yates
Hall of Fame trainer and North American all-time wins leader Steve Asmussen will be chasing more milestones during the 2023-2024 Oaklawn meeting that opens Friday.
Asmussen is also being chased by his son.
Jockey Keith Asmussen has 63 career victories, matching his father’s career riding total in 1982-1984, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
The passing of the whip could come quickly since Keith Asmussen is named on 13 horses Friday and Saturday at Oaklawn, including 10, fittingly, trained by his father.
“That’s funny as hell,” Steve Asmussen said. “We’re tied. His next win, he goes by me.”
Steve Asmussen turned to training after he became too heavy to ride. Keith Asmussen, 25, launched his full-time riding career in late 2022 after earning a master’s degree in professional accounting earlier in the year from the University of Texas’ McCombs School of Business.
Keith Asmussen has 56 victories this year. He rode six winners in 2020 and one in 2022 before his breakout performance last season at Oaklawn. Asmussen rode 25 winners to finish ninth in the standings and now looks to one up the man who has strongly supported his riding career.
“I’ll pass him,” Keith Asmussen said with a laugh.
Keith Asmussen’s post-Oaklawn highlights included a November to remember. He rode Private Creed for the first time and guided the millionaire turf standout to a Nov. 9 allowance victory at Churchill Downs and recorded his biggest career victory aboard Ryvit in the $300,000 Steel Valley Sprint Stakes Nov. 20 at Mahoning Valley. Both horses are trained by Steve Asmussen.
“(Private Creed) is by far the best horse I’ve ever been on and I had been around the horse since he was a 2-year-old, when I was still galloping, before I was even riding,” Keith Asmussen said.
Keith Asmussen won three races last season at Oaklawn aboard Ryvit, including the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes, and is scheduled to ride him in Saturday’s $150,000 Ring the Bell Stakes.
“Obviously, very excited,” Keith Asmussen said. “I think the horse is doing very well. Looking forward to the opportunity.”
The Bachelor was Keith Asmussen’s first career Oaklawn stakes victory.
During the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting, Steve Asmussen became the first trainer to reach 10,000 career North American victories and surpassed the late Bob Holthus to become Oaklawn’s all-time winningest trainer. Steve Asmussen (995) is now poised to reach 1,000 career victories as a trainer and owner at Oaklawn. He has 876 victories as a trainer and 119 as an owner.
The Perfect Note?
Trainer Greg Compton bids for his first career Oaklawn stakes victory when he saddles Willy D’s in Friday’s $150,000 Advent for 2-year-old sprinters. Compton co-owns Willy D’s with Danny Brown and Brown’s fiancé, Charis Brenneman. The colt is named after Willy D’s, a piano bar in downtown Little Rock, that Brown owns.
“I told him, ‘If I ever tell you I like a horse and tell you to name him Willy D’s, it means I really like the horse,’ ” Compton said. “I gave him two choices and he chose Willy D’s.”
A son of champion Lookin At Lucky, Willy D’s was purchased for $60,000 at the 2023 OBS Spring Sale of Two-Year-Olds in training.
“That was the one horse I went down there with intention of buying,” Compton said. “I really liked that horse because I’ve just always liked Lookin At Lucky. He’s been one of my favorite stallions. Just like him. He gets good, solid racehorses and they run long.”
Willy D’s has made two starts, both at Delaware Park. He won his Sept. 8 debut at 7 ½ furlongs on the turf before finishing ninth in the $100,000 Rocky Run Stakes at 1 mile Oct. 14.
In addition to Willy D’s, Compton trains I’m the Boss of Me, who finished second in the $150,000 American Beauty Stakes last January at Oaklawn. I’m the Boss of Me represented an Oaklawn single-season best 10th victory for Compton in an April 21 allowance sprint.
A North Little Rock native, Compton recorded his first Oaklawn victory in 2009 and has 49 overall in Hot Springs.
First post for Oaklawn’s opening-day program Friday is 12:30 p.m. (Central). … Arkansas-bred stakes winner Connie K recorded a half-mile bullet workout (:46.60) Wednesday morning at Oaklawn for trainer Randy Morse. … Major Mack and Chun Money are the first scheduled Oaklawn starters for stallions Omaha Beach and Mitole, respectively, in Friday’s fifth race, a $115,000 maiden special weight sprint for 2-year-olds. Omaha Beach and Mitole are both first-crop sires and multiple Oaklawn stakes winners.