‘We’ve Always Loved His Talent’: Silver State Turning To Gold For Asmussen

Two of the best horses developed by Steve Asmussen for Winchell Thoroughbreds came to the Hall of Fame trainer on the advice of David Lambert. Silver State hasn’t reached championship status yet, but the 4-year-old son of Hard Spun continued his climb toward the top of the country’s older two-turn division with a half-length victory in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) last Saturday at Oaklawn under Ricardo Santana Jr.

The victory was the fifth consecutive for Silver State, who became the first horse to win the Oaklawn Handicap – Oaklawn’s biggest prize for older two-turn runners – $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes at 1 mile and the $500,000 Essex Handicap at 1 1/16 miles. The latter two races, Jan. 23 and March 13, respectively, were major local steppingstones to the 1 1/8-mile Oaklawn Handicap.

Asmussen said on the recommendation of Lambert, a noted equine physiologist, Winchell Thoroughbreds (Ron and Joan Winchell) purchased Silver State for $450,000 at the 2018 Keeneland September Yearling Sales. Lambert, founder and president of Equine Analysis Systems in Midway, Ky., also steered the Winchells toward privately purchasing half-interest in Gun Runner and retaining homebred Untapable to race. Both became Eclipse Award winners.

Now, silver is turning to gold for the Winchells, who campaign Silver State with prominent Arkansas breeder/owner Willis Horton.

“It’s a horse the Hortons and Winchells purchased on Dr. Lambert’s advice, that has continued to develop and get better,” Asmussen said. “We’ve always loved his talent level.”

Silver State earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 101, equaling a career high, for his Oaklawn Handicap victory. After falling off the Kentucky Derby trail following a seventh-place finish in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) in March 2020 at Fair Grounds, Silver State returned with two sharp allowance victories last fall in Kentucky before emerging as Oaklawn’s top older two-turn runner this year. His Beyer Speed Figures, a numerical representation of performance, have ranged from 97 to 101, during the winning streak. Asmussen calls Silver State, “a gorgeous animal” who needed time to develop because he’s “massive in size.”

“This race is significant enough,” Asmussen said. “He’ll get the future we were hoping for, and this proves it.”

Asmussen said next-race plans are pending for Silver State, who won for the sixth time in 10 lifetime starts. Silver State ($1,230,094) became a millionaire after collecting the $600,000 winning check.

It was the first Oaklawn Handicap victory for Asmussen and the Winchells and the second for Horton, who also won the race in 2014 with champion Will Take Charge. Horton turned 81 last Saturday.

“The Hortons owning half this horse with the Winchells and how important Oaklawn is to them, the Hortons are to Oaklawn, what a great birthday present for him today,” Asmussen said.

The Oaklawn Handicap was Asmussen’s record 95th Oaklawn stakes victory. Asmussen also won the $600,000 Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) for older fillies and mares in 2015 with Untapable and the $500,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses in 2017 with Gun Runner. Untapable won an Eclipse Award as the country’s champion 3-year-old filly of 2014. Gun Runner captured two Eclipse Awards (Horse of the Year and older dirt male) in 2017.

Asmussen has a meet-high 49 victories this year as he seeks his record-tying 11th Oaklawn training title. The Oaklawn Handicap pushed his purse earnings at the meet to more than $5 million. He enters the final eight racing days at $5,072,636 and with a chance to break his single-season Oaklawn record ($5,644,609), set in 2019.

The post ‘We’ve Always Loved His Talent’: Silver State Turning To Gold For Asmussen appeared first on Horse Racing News | Paulick Report.

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