Barn Notes 12/27/23

Compiled by Robert Yates

Emmanuel Esquivel remains a big-money rider at Oaklawn.

Through the first five days of the season, Esquivel tops the jockey standings with six wins from 29 starts and purse earnings of $367,276. Esquivel’s totals include his first career Oaklawn riding triple Dec. 15 and his most lucrative to date, the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes Dec. 16 aboard War Campaign for trainer Phil Sims.

Esquivel has 16 career victories at Oaklawn, with almost one-third (five) coming in stakes races. He recorded two stakes victories in 2015 ($100,000 Pippin and $100,000 G3-Bayakoa), when he was a regular for approximately the first two-and-a-half months of the meeting, and two more in 2022 ($150,000 Bachelor and $150,000 Natural State Breeders’), when he rode the final six days of the 2021-2022 meeting. He has 1,120 North American victories overall, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

“Manny’s one of those underrated riders,” Sims said. “He’s really a good, strong rider. Just always gets the best run

out of a horse, it seems like.”

Esquivel, 33, has already matched his 2015 Oaklawn victory total, which marked his debut in Hot Springs. He had 86 mounts. Five victories this season have been for his uncle, trainer Cipriano Contreras.

“It’s been real good,” Esquivel said. “(Second) week, but we’re looking forward to the whole meet and see how it goes. Riding for my uncle (trainer Cipriano Contreras) helps. Good guy. He’s always there for me.”

A native of Mexico, Esquivel recorded his first career North American victory Feb. 17, 2013, at Hawthorne and secured his first career riding title later that year at Arlington Park. Reportedly, he was the first apprentice to win an Arlington riding title since 1940. Esquivel has been a fixture the last few years at what is now Horseshoe Indianapolis, which ran April 18-Nov. 17 in 2023.

Esquivel had been using Turfway Park in Kentucky as a winter bridge to Horseshoe Indianapolis before deciding to return to Oaklawn.

“Around September, Cipriano mentioned to Manny that he thought this year would be a great year to come back down to Oaklawn, based off the stock he has, and he was absolutely right,” Esquivel’s agent, Joe Santos, said. “Hopefully, we can keep the roll going. He was named in every race (Friday). Everyone really seems to like Manny here at Oaklawn, which is no surprise to me. Manny is both a great rider and person.”

Santos also represents two-time Eclipse Award winner Julien Leparoux, who has five victories this season at Oaklawn and leads all riders in purse earnings ($501,267). Esquivel ranks fourth.

Milestone Watch

Luis Quinonez, Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2007, has 3,999 career North American victories (United States and Canada), according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Quinonez is named on two horses Friday at Oaklawn. Quinonez, 56, is scheduled to ride Warhorse West in the second race for trainer Michael Rone and Izeonpoint in the fifth race for trainer Renay Borel.

Only 82 riders in North American history have reached 4,000 career victories. Quinonez recorded his 3,999th career

North American victory Dec. 16 at Oaklawn. He was winless with two mounts Dec. 17 at Oaklawn, the last day he rode. Quinonez (642 victories) is the ninth-winningest jockey in Oaklawn history.

Finish Lines

Racing resumes Friday at Oaklawn with a 10-race card. First post is 12:30 p.m. (Central)… David Cabrera, Oaklawn’s 2021-2022 co-leading jockey who hasn’t ridden since breaking his femur in a Sept. 21 spill at Remington Park, is scheduled to have a follow-up examination Wednesday, his agent, Joe Santos, said Tuesday. “They’re going to look at the rod in his leg and make sure it’s all fused together correctly,” Santos said. “They said if that’s all good, he can start getting fit.” Santos said if Cabrera receives the green light Wednesday from doctors, the jockey should be able to resume riding in late February. Santos said Cabrera is to make his riding comeback at Sam Houston, which runs Jan. 5-April 7.