Cox Closes Out Oaklawn Meet with Personal Milestone


Photo credit: Coady Photography

Cox Closes Out Oaklawn Meet with Personal Milestone

Two-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox closed the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting with a bang, sending out favored Caddo River ($5.20) to win Sunday’s featured eighth race, a $108,000 allowance for older horses at 1 1/16 miles, by 5 ½ lengths under Ricardo Santana Jr.

Cox has no runners entered over the final three days of the 2021-2022 meeting, meaning he will finish with 31 victories from 131 starts and purse earnings of $3,911,994 – all single-season personal highs in Hot Springs. Overall, Cox will rank third in victories, second in purse earnings and first in stakes victories (five).

Cox reached his greatest heights to date at Oaklawn April 2, when he saddled Fulsome to win the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses and Cyberknife to win the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1).

“It was our first Grade 1 at Oaklawn, so that meant a lot,” Cox said. “We had some runs in the Arkansas Derby. We had Caddo last year – he was close – and Dazzling Gem was fourth. Monomoy (Girl) was second in the Apple Blossom. We’ve knocked on the door, but it was good to finally get a Grade 1 here because Oaklawn has been such a big part of our operation for a long time.”

Cox started his first horse at Oaklawn in 2006 and has a victory at every meeting since 2009. He stable won 29 races and amassed $3,544,259 in purse earnings at the 2021 meeting. His seven stakes victories at the 2021 meeting represented a single-season personal best at Oaklawn.

Cox has 265 victories, including 28 stakes, and $18,189,065 in purse earnings in his Oaklawn career.

The Great Race

While Ricardo Santana Jr. rode one winner Sunday to pull within 62-58 of David Cabrera, only Francisco Arrieta has a chance to catch the idle leader with three days remaining in the 2021-2022 meeting.

Santana, Oaklawn’s eight-time riding champion, won the featured eighth race aboard favored Caddo River ($5.20) for trainer Brad Cox and breeder/owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs.

Santana ($4,059,003) became the first jockey at the meeting to surpass $4 million in purse earnings with the victory, but it also was his last victory at the meeting because he has moved his tack to Churchill Downs.

Arrieta (57 victories) is named on 23 horses over the final three days of racing. Arrieta rode 50 winners in his Oaklawn debut in 2021 to finish third in the standings behind Santana and Cabrera.

Cabrera was the runaway leader at the 2021-2022 meeting before sustaining head, neck and upper back injuries in an April 8 spill. He is out indefinitely.

Santana’s eight Oaklawn riding titles have all come since 2013.

Talk Derby to Me

Four Oaklawn-raced horses are entered in Saturday’s Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs, including Cyberknife and Barber Road, 1-2, respectively, in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 2.

Cyberknife is 20-1 in the program for two-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox. Barber Road is 30-1 for trainer John Ortiz. Also entered are Zozos (20-1), a Feb. 11 entry-level winner at Oaklawn for Cox, and Ethereal Road (30-1) for Hall of Fame trainer D. Wayne Lukas. Ethereal Road finished second in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) Feb. 26, Oaklawn’s final major Arkansas Derby prep.

Lukas will send out Oaklawn’s top 3-year-old filly this season, Secret Oath, in the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) at 1 1/8 miles Friday at Churchill Downs. After blowout victories in Oaklawn’s $200,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 29 and $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) Feb. 26, Secret Oath finished third against males in the Arkansas Derby. She is 6-1 in the program for the Kentucky Oaks, the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.

Also entered in the Kentucky Oaks is Yuugiri, winner of the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) at 1 1/16 miles April 2 at Oaklawn for trainer Rodolphe Brisset. Yuugiri (30-1) finished third in the Honeybee. Fantasy runner-up Beguine (30-1) is on the Kentucky Oaks also-eligible list for trainer Dan Peitz.

In other major stakes at Churchill Downs, multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Shedaresthedevil and 2021 Fantasy winner Pauline’s Pearl are entered in Friday’s $750,000 La Troienne (G1) for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles; multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Fulsome is entered in Friday’s $500,000 Alysheba (G2) for older horses at 1 1/16 miles; 2022 Purple Martin winner Pretty Birdie is entered in Friday’s $500,000 Eight Belles (G2) for 3-year-old fillies at 7 furlongs; 2021 Advent winner Kavod is entered in Saturday’s $500,000 Pat Day Mile (G2) for 3-year-olds; multiple Oaklawn stakes winner Kimari and 2021 Carousel winner Edgeway are entered in Saturday’s $750,000 Derby City Distaff (G1) for older fillies and mares at 7 furlongs; and 2019 first-division Rebel winner Long Range Toddy and 2022 Count Fleet winner Jackie’s Warrior are entered in Saturday’s $750,000 Churchill Downs (G1) for older horses at 7 furlongs.

Sold as a Rock

Multiple Oaklawn stakes winner and heavily favored Lone Rock posted a front-running 7 ½-length victory in the $160,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes Tuesday at Churchill Downs.

The country’s leading dirt marathon horse, Lone Rock ($2.60) completed 1 ½ miles over a sloppy track in 2:33.49. Ramon Vazquez rode the winner for 2020 Oaklawn training champion Robertino Diodoro.

Lone Rock earned $97,900 for the victory, pushing his total to $1,034,784 in 12 starts since Diodoro re-claimed the gelding for $40,000 in November 2020 at Churchill Downs. Lone Rock has nine victories during that span, including the $200,000 Tinsel Stakes at 1 1/8 miles Dec. 18 at Oaklawn and the $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes at 1 ½ miles April 3 at Oaklawn.

Diodoro said last month that Lone Rock would follow a similar path as 2021 and target marathon events like the $400,000 Brooklyn Stakes (G2) at 1 ½ miles June 11 at Belmont Park following the Isaac Murphy. Lone Rock finished second, beaten a neck in last year’s Temperence Hill, before capturing the Isaac Murphy and Brooklyn.

Lone Rock surpassed $1 million in career earnings with a 1 ½-length victory in the $250,000 Thoroughbred Aftercare Alliance Stakes (G2) last November at Del Mar. Lone Rock set a 1 5/8-mile track record (2:42.61) under Vazquez, who rode 44 winners at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting.

Lone Rock, a 7-year-old son of Majestic Warrior, has a 16-5-1 mark from 40 lifetime starts and earnings of $1,340,541. The Isaac Murphy was his eighth career stakes victory.

Hozier, fourth in an April 16 allowance race at Oaklawn, finished a distant second in the Isaac Murphy for trainer Rodolphe Brisset.

Last Samurai, runner-up in this year’s Temperence Hill, returned to win the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses at 1 1/8 miles April 23 at Oaklawn for trainer Dallas Stewart.

Finish Lines

Oaklawn’s riding colony held a moment of silence before Sunday’s first race for exercise rider Callie Witt, 20, who died following a training accident April 29 at Keeneland. … Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel recorded his 974th career Oaklawn victory in Sunday’s sixth race aboard Blow Sum Smoke ($11.40). Borel, Oaklawn’s leading jockey in 1995 and 2001 and its third all-time winningest rider, rode Blow Sum Smoke for trainer Brett Creighton and breeder/owner Danny Keene. Blow Sum Smoke was the first Oaklawn winner for his sire, Keene’s millionaire multiple Grade 3 winner Texas Chrome. … Jockey Luis Quinonez recorded his 630th career Oaklawn victory aboard Chakra ($8) in Sunday’s second race for trainer Allen Milligan. Quinonez was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2007 and its ninth-winningest rider in history. … Jockey Cristian Torres said Sunday afternoon that he plans to resume riding in approximately a month at Prairie Meadows and will be represented by agent Joe Santos. Torres (hairline fractures of the tailbone and right ankle) hasn’t ridden since a March 27 spill. Santos is the agent for 2021-2022 Oaklawn leading rider David Cabrera. Torres, who returned to Florida after making his Oaklawn debut at the 2021 meeting, had 19 victories at the 2021-2022 meeting before being injured.