2023-2024 End of Season Recap


“What a great racing season Oaklawn had,” said Louis Cella, President of Oaklawn. “We experienced increases across the board, despite losing three days to weather.” Cella continued, “This is a true testament that the greatest race fans in the country are in Arkansas!”

Oaklawn completed its 2023-2024 season Sunday with records in many categories, most notably in purses and average daily handle.

Total purses distributed throughout the season were over $60 million. The average of $950,000 per day was the highest in the track’s 120-year history.

Oaklawn's daily handle averaged $7,147,035 over 63 racing days. This represents a 7.1% increase from last season's 68-day meet, which averaged $6,670,730. The total handle for Oaklawn's races this season reached $450,263,230.

Oaklawn experienced one of the highest average starters per race in North America this season at 9.3. Oaklawn ran 631 races over 63 days at an average of 10 races per day. There were 5,907 total starts this year compared to 5,673 last meeting when more races were run. In all, 2,010 individual horses started in at least one Oaklawn race compared to 1,849 last season. A total of 197 trainers started at least one horse during the season.

2023-2024 Season Leaders

Pictured from left to right: Leading Trainer – Steve Asmussen, Leading Jockey – Cristian Torres, and Leading Trainer – Flurry Racing Stables LLC

Staton Flurry of Hot Springs won 26 races to earn his first career owner's title. Leading trainer Steve Asmussen finished second in the owner standings with 19 victories. Winchell Thoroughbreds led all owners in purse earnings with $922,342.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen authored one of the most dominant seasons in Oaklawn history en route to his record-extending 13th local training title earning $6,678,207. Asmussen won two races closing day to equal the late Cole Norman's single-season record of 71 victories in 2003.

Oaklawn had a record 11 trainers exceed $1 million in purse earnings surpassing last season’s seven trainers who earned the same amount.

Jockey Cristian Torres secured his second consecutive Oaklawn riding title by winning 82 races, earning a new single-season Oaklawn record of $6,200,702 in purses. In total, 18 jockeys earned more than $1 million in purses compared to only 13 in the previous season.

“What a remarkable story,” Cella said. “With the highest starters per race, record average daily handle and record average daily purses, it truly was a historic meet. When 11 trainers and 18 jockeys win over $1 million in purse earnings and both the leading trainer and leading jockey earn over $6 million each, why would any owner, trainer or jockey not race at Oaklawn?”

2023-2024 Season Milestones and Highlights

  • Trainer Steve Asmussen became the first trainer in Oaklawn history to win the same stakes race nine times when Valentine Candy captured the Bachelor for 3-year-olds.
  • Trainer Bob Baffert won the $1.5 million Arkansas Derby (G1), the richest race in Oaklawn history, with Muth and the $1.25 million Apple Blossom Handicap (G1) with Adare Manor.
  • Valentine Candy became the first horse since Overpeer in 1991 to win four stakes races at the same meeting, winning the $150,000 Advent, the $150,000 Renaissance, the $150,000 Ozark and the $200,000 Bachelor.
  • Skelly, another Asmussen trainee, stretched his Oaklawn winning streak to eight with four victories, including three stakes races: the $150,000 King Cotton, the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) and the $200,000 Lake Hamilton.
  • Trainer Brad Cox scored his 300th Oaklawn win.
  • Trainers Kenny McPeek and John Ortiz scored their 100th Oaklawn win.
  • Jockey Ramon Vazquez scored his 400th Oaklawn race.
  • Ring the Bell donations raised $71,590 for the Arkansas Thoroughbred Retirement Program.
  • Fun Facts: 22,500 pounds of corned beef, 28,800 hot dogs, 26,400 bags of popcorn, 7,900 pounds of shrimp and 28,700 oysters were consumed by Oaklawn racing fans.

Oaklawn Runners Sweep 150th Kentucky Derby & Oaks

Mystik Dan winning the 150th Kentucky Derby. Mystik Dan is owned by Arkansans Lance Gasaway, 4 G Racing, LLC, Daniel Hamby III and Scot Hamby.

The Oaklawn season closed with a bang when two horses who participated in its lucrative 3-year-old Triple Crown prep series, Mystik Dan and Thorpedo Anna, went on to capture the historic 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) and Kentucky Oaks (G1), respectively.

Southwest Stakes (G3) winner Mystik Dan captured the 150th Kentucky Derby (G1) at Churchill Downs. Mystik Dan is owned by Arkansans Lance Gasaway, Sharilyn and Brent Gasaway, Daniel Hamby III and Scott Hamby.

Fantasy Stakes (G2) winner Thorpedo Anna captured the 150th Kentucky Oaks (G1) at Churchill Downs. Thorpedo Anna is owned by Brookdale Racing, Inc., Mark Edwards, Judy Hicks and Magdalena Racing (Sherri McPeek).

Both horses, trained by Kenny McPeek and ridden by Brian Hernandez Jr., marked the first time a trainer and jockey combination had swept the two races in the same year since 1952.

“Spectacular,” Cella said, referring to the sweep of Oaklawn horses. “It brings such joy to read national coverage and see the positive responses to what we’re doing. If you want to win a Triple Crown race or Breeders’ Cup you have to start in Arkansas. It’s amazing. You can’t make it up.

Founded in 1904 and located in Hot Springs National Park, Arkansas, Oaklawn is one of the premiere Thoroughbred racetracks in the country. The casino features slots, live table games and sports betting year-round. Live racing is held between Dec-May and simulcast racing throughout the year. Come visit the Forbes Travel Guide Recommended Oaklawn Hotel, multi-purpose event center, Arkansas’ only Forbes 4-Star Astral Spa, and several dining options. Oaklawn.com, 1-800-OAKLAWN.