Oaklawn Barn Notes: Vazquez Leaves for California with Momentum

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

Contact: Jennifer Hoyt, jhoyt@oaklawn.com (501) 363-4305

Friday, April 08, 2022

Jockey Ramon Vazquez accepting the trophy for the Temperence Hill Stakes

Photo credit: Coady Photography

Vazquez Leaves for California with Momentum

Ramon Vazquez is heading west with momentum after riding four winners Thursday at Oaklawn, his final day as a regular at the 2021-2022 meeting.

Vazquez, 38, was named on 13 horses this weekend at Santa Anita (Friday-Sunday) after relocating to Southern California with his agent, Bill Castle. The move came after high-profile riders Flavien Prat and Umberto Rispoli announced in early March that they were leaving Southern California to ride in New York.

“Looking forward to it,” Castle said in a text message Thursday night. “We are grateful for the opportunity.”

All four of Vazquez’s victories Thursday were for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen. They teamed to win the second race with favored Sparky Hale ($3.40), fourth race with Toma Todo ($9.40), eighth race with Gimmick ($5.80) and the ninth race with Pinky Toe ($26). The four-bagger gave Vazquez 44 victories at the meeting – fourth in the standings through Thursday – and 393 in his Oaklawn career.

“Any time you win a race, let along four races, you better be grateful,” Castle said. “Grateful for Steve and his organization.”

Thursday marked the third time Vazquez has ridden four winners on an Oaklawn card, following April 2, 2021, and Feb. 18. Vazquez has recorded three five-win days at Oaklawn – Jan. 25, 2015, April 9, 2015, and April 19, 2019.

A native of Puerto Rico, Vazquez has ridden annually at Oaklawn since 2012 and recorded his most lucrative career victory to date aboard Un Ojo in the $1 million Rebel Stakes (G2) Feb. 26. The Rebel was Oaklawn’s final major prep for the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 2.

Castle said Vazquez will return to Oaklawn to ride April 22, April 23 and April 24 because Santa Anita is dark those days.

Dream Lith’s Nightmare

Grade 2 winner Dream Lith suffered heatstroke following her fifth-place finish as the favorite in the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies April 2, trainer Robertino Diodoro said Friday morning.

Diodoro said Dream Lith initially collapsed near the test barn following the 1 1/16-mile Fantasy, which was Oaklawn’s final major prep for the $1.25 million Kentucky Oaks (G1) May 6 at Churchill Downs. The Kentucky Oaks is the country’s biggest race for 3-year-old fillies.

Diodoro said Dream Lith sustained cuts after falling on the concrete and emerged with a “knee that looked like a football.”

“Between the test barn and our barn, she got down a couple of more times and got her hock and her knee,” Diodoro said. “All superficial, but it blew up pretty good.”

Diodoro said Dream Lith is recovering from her injuries, adding he’ll have to watch her train a few days before targeting another race. A daughter of Medaglia d’Oro, Dream Lith scored her biggest career victory to date in the $400,000 Golden Rod Stakes (G2) Nov. 27 at Churchill Downs to close her 2-year-old campaign.

“She’s got some turf in her breeding,” Diodoro said. “Probably see her on turf, When, I’m not sure.”

Diodoro said millionaire multiple Grade 2 winner Lone Rock emerged in good shape from his victory in last Sunday’s $150,000 Temperence Hill Stakes for older horses at 1 ½ miles and is pointing for the $160,000 Isaac Murphy Marathon Overnight Stakes May 3 at Churchill Downs. Lone Rock won the 1 ½-mile Isaac Murphy last year.

Diodoro’s other stakes runner last weekend was Market Analysis, who finished eighth in the $400,000 Oaklawn Mile (G3) for older horses. Diodoro said he’ll look at an easier spot for Market Analysis, who recorded two powerful allowance/optional claiming victories earlier in the meeting.

Milestone Watch

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen won four races Thursday, pushing his career Oaklawn total to 796. The late Bob Holthus is the only trainer in Oaklawn history to reach 800 career victories.

Asmussen won the second race with favored Sparky Hale ($3.40), fourth race with Toma Todo ($9.40), eighth race with Gimmick ($5.80) and the ninth race with Pinky Toe ($26). Asmussen entered Friday with a meet-high 41 victories. Asmussen had 17 horses entered this weekend at Oaklawn (Friday-Sunday).

Asmussen and the late Hall of Famer Henry Forrest share the Oaklawn record for career training titles with 11.

Finish Lines

Barber Road, runner-up in the $1.25 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 2, is scheduled to ship next week to Churchill Downs to continue preparations for the May 7 Kentucky Derby, trainer John Ortiz said in a text message Friday morning. … Lynn Chleborad won two races Thursday to regain sole possession of first place in the race with Ingrid Mason for winningest female trainer in Oaklawn history. Chleboard won the first race with favored Miss Alpha Bella ($2.60) and the third race with favored Choctaw Charlie ($5.80). Chleboard entered Friday with 129 career victories at Oaklawn, two more than Mason. … Jockey Francisco Arrieta entered Friday with 99 career Oaklawn victories. … March 20 career debut winner Lac Vieux Desert is pointing for the $500,000 Eight Belles Stakes (G2) for 3-year-old fillies at 7 furlongs May 6 at Churchill Downs, trainer Robertino Diodoro said Friday morning. … Steve Sullivan, the longtime sports anchor at KATV, Channel 7, in Little Rock, Ark., called Thursday’s fourth race. … PGA Tour winner and Arkansas native Ken Duke was a press box visitor Thursday.