Last week the Daily Racing Blog looked at the top trainers at Oaklawn Park Race Track in Hot Springs, Arkansas. This week we give you the top jockeys to watch for at this eight week meet.
Ricardo Santana Jr.
He could easily be described as jockey of the decade at Oaklawn, Winning six consecutive riding titles from 2013-2018.
In April 2019, he recorded his 1,000th career Victory. In May, with two days left in the meet, he was ahead in the standings by three races when he left to ride in the Kentucky Oaks and Derby. Over those two days, he Won three Grade 1 races at Churchill Downs.
While back at Oaklawn, Santana ended up two Wins short of the title, but he was the clear leader in purse earnings with $4.3 million, setting a single-season record at Oaklawn and almost doubling all other jockeys.
Santana’s main client is Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, who Won the Oaklawn training title for the 10th time in 2019. The Santana/Asmussen combination is a popular, albeit chalky, angle to play at Oaklawn.
David Cohen was the one who edged out Santana for the 2019 leading rider title with 75 Wins to Santana’s 73. Cohen rides first call for M and M Racing. Last year, M and M set single-season records for Victories (61) and purse earnings ($1.7 million). You can expect a spirited rematch between Cohen and Santana.
Cohen was Comeback Jockey of the Year in 2018 after finishing with 114 Victories. He had been away from racing for three years after a leg injury and the deaths of his father and sister. Cohen returned to the irons in late 2017 and rode six races. In 2018, he finished 3rd in the standings at Oaklawn Park.
Lured in part by Arkansas purses, Joe Talamo, who turned 30 on January 12th is starting the new decade making changes in his professional life, coming from the California circuit to challenge the Oaklawn jockey colony. After this meet he plans to spend the rest of the year in Kentucky and then return to Arkansas.
Born in Louisiana to a trainer, he became the first apprentice jockey to top the standings at the Fair Grounds in 2007. He then moved his tack to California and finished the year Winning the Eclipse Award as the Champion Apprentice Jockey.
At 19, he Won the 2009 Breeders’ Cup Turf Sprint aboard CALIFORNIA FLAG. In his career, he has also Won the Santa Anita Derby, Santa Anita Handicap and the Wood Memorial, at Aqueduct Park.
In December, Talamo earned his 2,000th career Win.
Oaklawn bettors should also keep their eyes on Ramon Vazquez, who perennially finishes in the top three. Eclipse Winner Tyler Baze, the Rajun Cajun– Calvin Borel, and Jon Court, should all be give some consideration as well.
So when perusing the program for Oaklawn Park look for these riders, as well as the trainers we spoke of last week and you should have yourself a decent day.