The Mary Rose Caps Huge Meet for Owner John Ed Anthony

Owner John Ed Anthony (second from the left)

Photo credit: Coady Photography

The Mary Rose Caps Huge Meet for Owner John Ed Anthony

The hay is in the barn for owner John Ed Anthony of Hot Springs. What a haul it was.

Continuing to turn back the clock, Anthony added an exclamation point to his stunning 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting when heavily favored The Mary Rose ($3.20) won Friday’s $150,000 Natural State Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred females by 9 ¾ lengths under Emmanuel Esquivel.

Anthony’s 76th and final starter of the season made him the first owner in Oaklawn history to surpass $2 million in purse earnings at a meet and The Mary Rose, a 5-year-old daughter of Macho Uno, the richest Arkansas-bred female money winner in history. A homebred for Anthony’s Shortleaf Stable, The Mary Rose ($528,904) surpassed multiple Grade 3 winner Humble Clark, who earned $503,545 in 1999-2001.

The Mary Rose also represented Anthony’s record-extending 279th career Oaklawn victory, his meet-high 19th victory and fifth stakes victory at the meeting, also tops among owners.

Other 2021-2022 Oaklawn highlights for Anthony included:

  • Breaking a 269-269 tie with the late Sharon Hild to become the outright all-time winningest owner in Oaklawn history Feb. 26.
  • Gar Hole, a homebred, becoming the meet’s first four-time winner in the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-bred sprinters March 5.
  • Surpassing M and M Racing ($1,782,351 in 2019) to set a single-season Oaklawn record for purse earnings by an owner ($1,810,587) with Plainsman’s third-place finish in the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) for older horses April 23.
  • Beating open company with another homebred, Whelen Springs, in the $150,000 Bachelor Stakes for 3-year-old sprinters April 30.
  • Winning 13 races worth $100,000 or more, including the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) for older horses Feb. 12 with Plainsman, and 17 worth $84,000 or more.
  • The Mary Rose recording the largest margin of victory in a stakes race in the 1-mile Natural State.
  • Finishing with $2,083,402 in purse earnings.

John Ortiz trained 14 of Anthony’s winners at Oaklawn, including Gar Hole, Whelen Springs and The Mary Rose. Ortiz also saddled Ice Orchid, another Anthony homebred, to a runner-up finish behind future Kentucky Oaks winner Secret Oath in the $300,000 Honeybee Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies Feb. 26.

Two-time reigning Eclipse Award-winning trainer Brad Cox had the other five winners, notably Plainsman and Caddo River, the 2021 Arkansas Derby runner-up who netted two impressive allowance victories with a new stalking style.

“We’ve had a couple of really crackerjack trainers that are on top of their game and focused on the horses and on horse racing,” Anthony, 83, said in the Larry Snyder Winner’s Circle moments after the Natural State Breeders’ Stakes. “Whenever you give them a little ammunition, they’ll take it and run with it and so Brad and Johnny have both done a super job for us.”

John Gasper, Anthony’s racing manager, said Ortiz had the bulk of the Shortleaf horses at Oaklawn, roughly 12, with some five more under the care of Cox.

Anthony’s purse earnings were almost evenly split between stakes races ($1,077,843) and overnight events ($1,005,559), according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

“Coming in, we thought we would have a decent meet, but this has kind of gone really amazing,” Gasper said. “Gar Hole turning out to be Gar Hole; Caddo River coming around now; Plainsman, he did his job pretty well and made over a half a million. We were hoping that’s what would happen, but you never know.”

Anthony recorded his first Oaklawn victory Feb. 16, 1972. Then racing as the nationally prominent Loblolly Stable, Anthony topped all owners in purse earnings at Oaklawn in 1980 ($289,230), 1981 ($281,831), 1987 ($547,810), 1991 ($400,877), 1992 ($597,152) and 1993 ($618,789), according to the track’s media guide.

Following some lean times after phasing out Loblolly in the mid-1990s, Anthony has had a resurgence in recent years and entered the final two days of the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting (Saturday and Sunday) also chasing the leading owner’s title. M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk) entered Saturday with 16 victories. M and M, which turns over its roster mostly through claiming, has topped the Oaklawn owner’s standings the last four seasons. M and M started more than 200 horses at the 2019 Oaklawn meeting.

Boosted by his eye-popping Oaklawn meeting, Anthony entered Saturday with $1,997,265 in purse earnings overall this year to rank third nationally, according to Equibase.

“Actually, there’s only one measure of success and the owner’s title is only of them,” Anthony said. “There’s another one that’s very important, too. Of course, it’s a very expensive sport and game to play and purses have blossomed. You’ve got to win them to earn any money, so that’s the goal.”

The Mary Rose was Ortiz’s final meet starter and 27th meet victory. It was his 19th victory in a race worth $100,000 or more. Among 19 six-figure victories, nine were for Anthony.

“It’s just an unbelievable experience,” Ortiz said after capping his best Oaklawn meet to date. “Thanks to Mr. John Ed Anthony and to Mr. Gasper for helping us get together. The support I’ve had from them, not just with their own horses, but with all the other horses we have in the barn right now, it’s really incredible. They made my Oaklawn meet absolutely unbelievable.”

Ortiz and Gasper flew from Kentucky for the Natural State on a plane owned by former Walmart executive William Simon. Ortiz trains 2022 Arkansas Derby runner-up and Kentucky Derby entrant Barber Road for Simon. Gasper resides in Lexington, Ky.

The Great Race

Francisco Arrieta rode three winners Friday to pull within 62-60 of idle leader David Cabrera with two days remaining in the meeting.

Arrieta won the first race aboard favored Airborne Gal ($3) for trainer Chris Hartman, sixth race aboard favored Misty Veil ($4.40) for trainer Tom Amoss and the ninth race aboard Calibrate ($15.20) for trainer Coty Rosin.

Arrieta was named on 14 horses – seven Saturday and seven Sunday – over the final two days of the meeting. Arrieta rode 50 winners in his Oaklawn debut in 2021 to finish third in the standings behind perennial champion Ricardo Santana Jr. and Cabrera.

Cabrera, seeking his first career Oaklawn riding title, 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 finished the 2021-2022 meeting with 58 victories. He is now based at Churchill Downs. Santana’s eight Oaklawn riding titles have all come since 2013.

Finish Lines

Hall of Fame jockey Calvin Borel recorded his 975th career Oaklawn victory in Friday’s fourth race aboard favored Sweetness Too ($7.20) for trainer Ron Westermann. Borel is the third-winningest rider in Oaklawn history. … Isaac Castillo ($1,059,867) and Luis Quinonez ($1,003,999) became the 16th and 17th riders, respectively, to surpass $1 million in purse earnings at the meet Friday. … Chel-c Bailey recorded her 20th victory of the meeting in Friday’s fifth race aboard favored Rattrapante ($6.20) for Hall of Fame trainer Jerry Hollendorfer. Bailey is the meet’s leading apprentice rider.