Barn Notes 1/14/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

Photo Credit: Coady Media

For Immediate Release

Jockey Cristian Torres continues to pile up victories at Oaklawn, vaulting to the top of the 2023-2024 standings with a four-bagger Saturday.

Torres, Oaklawn’s leading rider last season, won the third race aboard favored Play the Trumpet ($5.20) for trainer Miguel Angel Silva, fourth race aboard favored Jackman ($4.20) for trainer Karl Broberg, fifth race aboard favored Common Defense ($5.20) for trainer Kenny McPeek and the ninth race, the inaugural $150,000 Mockingbird Stakes, aboard unbeaten Midshipman’s Dance ($12.20) for trainer Robertino Diodoro.

Torres, in becoming just the second jockey in Oaklawn history to reach 100 victories at a meeting, rode four winners on a card three times last season and five winners once. Saturday’s four-bagger came on the heels of a riding triple Jan. 1.

“Nice day,” Torres, 26, said following the Mockingbird. “Got to win races today because we don’t have races tomorrow. Very happy with all the opportunities and all the trainers that gave me the opportunities today.”

Oaklawn canceled training and racing Sunday because of arctic temperatures.

Torres has 15 victories through the first 14 days of racing – two more than runner-up Francisco Arrieta – and also leads all jockeys in mounts (103), purse earnings ($1,361,491) and stakes victories (three).

The Mockingbird marked the 10th career Oaklawn stakes victory for Torres. He also rode Midshipman’s Dance, a 3-year-old daughter of Midshipman, to victory in her Dec. 16 debut at Oaklawn. Both races were 6 furlongs.

“The first race, she was very professional,” Torres said. “She got dirt in her face. Didn’t bother her at all. The first race, I was forced to go wide turning for home. But she was very professional during the race. I was very confident with her today.”

The Mockingbird was the 156th career Oaklawn victory for Torres, who made his local debut at the 2021 meeting. Torres set a single-season Oaklawn record for purse earnings last season ($6,163,941).

Torres rode two winners Jan. 5 at Oaklawn to reach 600 in his North American career, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Torres rode his first career winner April 21, 2019, at Gulfstream Park.

Agent Cody Autrey of Hot Springs represents Torres.

Milestone Watch

Trainer Kenny McPeek recorded his 1,989th career North American victory when favored Common Defense broke his maiden in Saturday’s fifth race at Oaklawn, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Common Defense ($5.20) represented the eighth victory at the 2023-2024 Oaklawn meeting for McPeek, who is tied for second in the standings.

McPeek saddled his first winner in 1985 and had a career year in 2023, when his horses earned $10,773,078 in purses to rank 11th in North America.

McPeek has a much greater presence at Oaklawn than past years, with approximately 40 horses on the grounds. He has 83 career Oaklawn victories.

McPeek also races extensively in Kentucky, Louisiana and New York in the winter.

Finish Lines

Oaklawn is scheduled to resume racing Friday at 12:30 p.m. (Central). … Entries were taken and post positions drawn Sunday for the $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes Jan. 20 at Oaklawn. The one-mile race is for older horses. … Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen recorded his record-extending 891st career Oaklawn victory in Saturday’s first race with Magic Tap ($6.80). Asmussen’s son, Keith Asmussen, rode Magic Tap for Winchell Thoroughbreds (Ron and Joan Winchell). Magic Tap, who was making his 4-year-old debut in the $141,000 allowance at 1 1/8 miles, ran fourth in the $1 million Pennsylvania Derby (G1) Sept. 23 at Parx. … Play the Trumpet, Jackman and Midshipman’s Dance became the third, fourth and fifth two-time winners this season at Oaklawn Saturday. … Trainer Randy Morse and owner Randy Patterson teamed for two victories Saturday at Oaklawn. They won the seventh race with favored Kantex ($4.20) and the 10th race with Can’t Hush This ($9.40). Morse, in partnership with Patterson, also bred and owns Kantex, who rallied to a 3 ¼-length victory in the $143,000 starter-allowance sprint for Arkansas-bred fillies and mares. Morse (319 victories) is the 13th-winningest trainer in Oaklawn history. … King Russell, runner-up in the $1.25 million G1-Arkansas Derby last year, finished second in Saturday’s 10th race, a $140,000 entry-level allowance for older horses at one mile, for trainer Ron Moquett. It was King Russell’s first start since June. … Oaklawn reached 100 claims at the 2023-2024 meeting Friday, Day 13 of the scheduled 66-day season. Those 100 claims totaled $2,134,500. The only claim Saturday was Play the Trumpet, who was taken for $45,000 by New York-based owner/trainer David Jacobson.