Keith Asmussen Joins TDN Writers' Room Podcast

Keith Asmussen | Coady

Few jockeys have ever come so far so fast. Keith Asmussen, the son of Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, has been riding full time for less than two years, but has already snagged mounts in the GI Kentucky Derby and GI Kentucky Oaks and sits in second-place in the jockey standings at Oaklawn Park. Asmussen, who will ride Just Steel (Justify) in the Derby and Lemon Muffin (Collected) in the Oaks for trainer Wayne Lukas, joined the TDN Writers' Room Podcast presented by Keeneland this week to discuss his rapid ascension, riding in the Derby, how, at 5 foot 10, he manages his weight and much more. Asmussen was the Green Group Guest of the Week.

Though his father has enjoyed much more success as a trainer than he did as a jockey, Asmussen never gave training a serious thought. His dream was to be a jockey.

“I think it just comes with being around the racetrack,” he said. “It was the immediate infatuation of being on the backside and around horses. I had kind of the progression of hot walker, groom, exercise rider. I just absolutely fell in love with the idea of being on the back of a horse. It just kind of progressed from there. It was a pipe dream to begin with. And now it's a very real profession that I absolutely am in love with.”

That Lukas has enough faith in Asmussen to let him ride his Derby horse says a lot about the jockey's ability and that he can compete against the very best.

“To ride for him is an awesome feeling,” he said. “He's a horseman that has literally changed the game into what it is today. For him to show confidence in my ability…I mean, there's nothing more invigorating than that on a professional level. He is notorious for being critical of jockeys, but it's because he expects the best and that's the level I aspire to compete at. I believe I am malleable enough that he will help make me into an incredible rider, which is my aspiration.”

He speaks highly of his entire family, including his uncle, Cash. Cash Asmussen, who enjoyed success in Europe and the U.S., was one of the best riders of his generation. Asmussen has been quick to pick his uncle's brain and seek his advice.

“He is so knowledgeable,” Asmussen said. “You would start a sentence and you try to say what you mean. You don't even need to finish the sentence. He already knows what you're talking about. He can totally walk you through what small alterations you need to make.”

In our breeding spotlight section, we took a look at the WinStar stallion Independence Hall. We also spotlighted the Coolmore stallion Jack Christopher.

Elsewhere on the podcast, which is also sponsored by the Pennsylvania Horse Breeders' Association, Coolmore, West Point Thoroughbreds, WinStar, Pleasant Acres Farm, the team of T.D. Thornton, Bill Finley and Zoe Cadman talked about owner Amr Zedan's on-going quest to force Churchill Downs to allow his star 3-year-old Muth (Good Magic) to be entered in the Derby despite the ban of trainer Bob Baffert. We also discussed the news of the recent Hall of Fame inductees, Justify (Scat Daddy), Gun Runner (Candy Ride {Arg}) and Joel Rosario. Cadman said that Kona Gold (Java Gold) should have been added to the list and Finley made the case for trainer John Sadler. Cadman gave an update on the OBS Spring sale and the team discussed Charlie Appleby's decision to campaign a string of horses in the U.S.

To watch the Writers' Room, click here. To view the show as a podcast, click here.

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