Gar Hole and Jockey Ricardo Santana, Jr

Photo credit: Coady Photography


HOT SPRINGS, AR (Saturday, March 5, 2022) – Gar Hole, representing one of Arkansas’ most distinguished Thoroughbred owners in history, became the record-extending 272nd winner at Oaklawn for John Ed Anthony with his dominating victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred colts and geldings before an on-track crowd of 30,000.

The 2-5 favorite under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Gar Hole pressed early leader Blame J D from second through quick fractions of :21 3/5 and :45 1/5 for the first half mile. The winner needed very little encouragement to assume the lead entering the stretch and continued to draw off, winning by five lengths over 39-1 longshot Souixper Charger in 1:09 for six furlongs over a fast track. Hard-knocking Bandit Point closed late to get third.

“It’s amazing, it’s just a wonderful moment right now,” trainer John Ortiz said. “Not only did I just win my first stakes at Oaklawn, it means so much to me to win it for John Ed Anthony and his family. I’m beyond honored. Thank God I’m blessed.

“It was a perfect horse race. I told Ricardo (Santana Jr.) that I wanted to see him running through the wire because I wanted to see what he would look like against open company. A 1:09 flat? Listen, this is not just an Arky-bred. He’s a serious racehorse and he’s a champion Arky-bred right now.”

Gar Hole, named for a famous Arkansas bar, has now won four straight races since returning to the races at Oaklawn in December and overall, has won four of five starts for $272,274 in earnings. Bred by Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, Gar Hole returned $2.80, $2.80 and $2.60.

Live racing resumes Sunday at Oaklawn with a 1 p.m. first post.


Stakes Quotes:

Winning Jockey Ricardo Santana Jr., Gar Hole: “This is a nice Arky-bred. This is one of the best Arky-breds I’ve ever ridden in my life. I’m really impressed with him. He’s mentally good. He knows what he’s doing.”

Winning trainer John Ortiz, Gar Hole: “We walked him up. We were confident. The rest is let the horse and Ricardo (Santana) do their thing. I told Ricardo one thing: ‘I want to see what we have. I don’t want to see him galloping through the wire. Let’s see what we have, if we can move him up in class.’ Hopefully, we can come back and keep him doing the same thing. Maybe he’ll be a multiple champion over this track.”

Jockey Luis Quinonez, second on Souixper Charger: “We were second best today. First time I’ve ridden him, and he did everything good. The other horse ran faster than he did.”

Jockey Kelsi Harr, third on Bandit Point: “He’s always game. He always tries to come run them down. He laid a closer today. Thought we were going to get a little more of it. It’s hard to do anything with that Gar Hole.”