Barn Notes 4/10/24

Compiled by Robert Yates

Trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs continues to move closer to a career milestone.

Favored Chupapi Munyayo represented Moquett’s 985th career North American Thoroughbred victory in Sunday’s third race at Oaklawn, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Chupapi Munyayo ($4.40) was also the 333rd career Oaklawn victory for Moquett, who is the 11th-winningest trainer in Oaklawn history.

Moquett, 52, saddled his first career Thoroughbred winner (Rare Money) May 16, 1998, at Prairie Meadows in Iowa, according to Equibase. Moquett’s first Oaklawn victory – sixth overall – was Feb. 10, 1999, with Showtime Sis.

Among active trainers at Oaklawn, only Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (936), Jinks Fires (477) and Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas (365) have more career victories in Hot Springs. Moquett said he would like to reach the milestone at Oaklawn, his home track. There are 12 days remaining in the 2023-2024 meeting.

“We’re going to try,” Moquett said. "This place is odd because you’ve got the best people in the world at the claiming game and then you’ve got the best people in the world at the allowance and maiden specials, at the same spot. You can go to Iowa and dominate the allowances or go to Kentucky and dominate claiming. But here, it’s a hard spot to try and get those kinds.”

Moquett’s first career Thoroughbred starter (Maui’s Hickridge) was Nov. 16, 1997, at tiny Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Okla., according to Equibase. Moquett grew up near Blue Ribbon, which is about 230 miles northwest of Hot Springs. The facility is now shuttered for racing.

Moquett is best known for his work with Whitmore, who collected an Eclipse Award in 2020 as the country’s champion male sprinter after winning the $2 million G1-Breeders’ Cup Sprint at Keeneland. Moquett won nine races at Oaklawn with Whitmore, including a record-tying seven stakes races. Swift Ruler is the only other horse in Oaklawn history with seven career stakes victories.

Chupapi Munyayo, a homebred for Moquett’s Southern Springs Stables, was ridden by Keith Asmussen, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider this season. Moquett is tied for seventh in the 2023-2024 Oaklawn standings with 17 victories.

Moquett has 14 horses entered this week at Oaklawn, which races Friday, Saturday and Sunday.

Oaklawn’s 64-day meeting ends Sunday, May 5.

The Leaders

Cristian Torres (jockey) and Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (trainer) hold commanding leads in the Oaklawn standings with 12 days remaining in the 2023-2024 meeting. The races for leading owner and apprentice jockey are much tighter.

Torres has 68 victories – 20 more than runner-up Keith Asmussen – in search of his second consecutive Oaklawn rider’s title. Torres rode 100 winners last season. Retired Hall of Famer Pat Day is the only other jockey in Oaklawn history to reach 100 victories in a single season.

Steve Asmussen (60 victories) is cruising toward his record-extending 13th Oaklawn training title. Asmussen was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2007, 2008, 2010, 2012, 2013, 2014, 2016, 2017, 2018, 2019, 2021 and 2021-2022 and is its all-time winningest trainer with 936 victories through Sunday. Asmussen is chasing Oaklawn’s single-season record for victories by a trainer. The late Cole Norman won a record 71 races during the weather-shortened 2003 meeting.

Staton Flurry of Hot Springs leads Asmussen 19-18 in the race for leading owner. Each is seeking his first Oaklawn owner’s title. Joseph Bealmear leads Carlos Barbosa 16-14 for top apprentice jockey.

Finish Lines

Racing resumes Friday at 12:35 p.m. (Central). … Edge to Edge received a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 101 for his one-length victory in Sunday’s $175,000 Eclipse Stakes for older sprinters. Edge to Edge, who was ridden by Rafael Bejarano, covered six furlongs over a fast track in 1:09.54, just off Skelly’s meet-best 1:09.38. Trainer Chris Hartman said Edge to Edge will be pointed to the $200,000 Lake Hamilton Stakes for older horses at six furlongs May 4 at Oaklawn. Edge to Edge finished third behind Skelly in last year’s Lake Hamilton. … The Eclipse was the third stakes victory of the meeting and second in two days for jockey Rafael Bejarano, Oaklawn’s fifth-leading rider this season. Bejarano, unlike his debut as an Oaklawn regular last season, didn’t move his tack to Keeneland for its April 5 opening. Bejarano’s agent, Cody Caudill, said Bejarano will remain at Oaklawn until at least the opening of Churchill Downs’ spring/summer meeting April 27. Oaklawn’s meeting ends May 5. “Around the time Churchill opens, we’ll make a decision then,” Caudill said. “He’ll definitely be here until then.” Bejarano has 34 victories this season at Oaklawn. … Adare Manor (9-5) and Skelly (even money) are program favorites for the 8 ½-furlong $1.25 million G1-Apple Blossom Handicap and $500,000 G3-Count Fleet Sprint Handicap, respectively, Saturday at Oaklawn.