Steve Asmussen–who this year became Churchill Downs' all-time win leader and only the second trainer to achieve 9,000 career victories–is the 2020 recipient of the Louisville-based Kentucky Thoroughbred Owners' Warner L. Jones Jr. Horseman of the Year Award.
The award recognizes individuals for outstanding contributions to Kentucky racing and sharing the passion exemplified by Jones, who spent 50 years on the Churchill Downs board, including eight as chairman during the iconic track's resurgence. Warner Jones–the first and so far only breeder of a Kentucky Derby, Kentucky Oaks and Breeders' Cup winner–was the inaugural award winner in 1988, six years before his death.
“Everything my whole family has is because of horse racing,” Asmussen said. “I won the Warner L. Jones Horseman of the Year Award–that has a beautiful ring to it. For anybody to be involved in horse racing, I think the greatest compliment you can be given is to be considered a horseman. It is what we strive for. It is something I, as well as my whole family, would be proud to be acknowledged as. The list of past recipients is beyond impressive and a group that I'm very proud to be a part of. That is cool.”
Through Dec. 2, Asmussen has won 9,104 races, trailing only the late Dale Baird's 9,445. Those victories include training Horses of the Year Curlin (2007-2008), Rachel Alexandra (2009) and Gun Runner (2017).
Asmussen's more than $342.7 million in career purse earnings are second all-time to Todd Pletcher's $397 million, according to Equibase statistics. He was inducted into the National Museum of Racing and Hall of Fame in 2016.