Riders for agent Bill Castle swept Saturday's late daily double at Oaklawn Park, with David Cohen winning the $125,000 Martha Washington Stakes aboard Power Gal for trainer Mark Casse and Orlando Mojica taking the nightcap aboard Lighthawk for trainer Ron Moquett.
Through Saturday, the fifth day of the scheduled 57-day meeting, Cohen is tied for second in the standings with five victories. Mojica has four victories to rank fourth.
Cohen wintered at Oaklawn for the first time last year, winning 37 races to finish third in the standings.
“It's like a good marriage,” said Castle, who has represented Cohen for more than a decade. “It's like we couldn't wait to come back. Both David and I were so excited to return. We wish it was an 11 1/2-month longer meet. We didn't want to leave and we still don't want to leave.”
Backed strongly by trainer Robertino Diodoro and owner Mike Sisk (M and M Racing), Cohen, 34, had a bounce-back year in 2018 when he won 114 races and had $6,775,883 in purse earnings.
Competing in New York and the Mid-Atlantic, Cohen ranked sixth nationally in victories (288) and 24th nationally in purse earnings ($7,357,326) in 2009 before a severe leg injury in early 2014 and the subsequent deaths of his father and sister derailed his career for approximately three years.
Cohen's comeback came in late 2017 at Fair Grounds. He had four mounts there and two more at Delta Downs in advance of the 2018 Oaklawn meeting.
“Like David always said, it wasn't a matter of when he was returning, it was just a matter of when he was ready,” Castle said. “What people had to see, as with any type of athlete, was the timing. Where are you at? Whether you are a rider or throwing a baseball, you had to see where his abilities were. We were very grateful and lucky that we had Diodoro and M and M and Cody Autrey.”
Diodoro was Oaklawn's second-leading trainer the last two years and helped M and M secure its first career owner's title at the 2018 Oaklawn meeting. Autrey is M and M's racing manager.
Cohen rode 20 winners for Diodoro and M and M last year at Oaklawn.
“So grateful to be here,” Castle said. “From the ownership, from the fan base, from every employee, from top to bottom, the fans, the restaurants – everywhere we go … even when you go into Starbucks: 'Good morning. How have you been, Bill?' They're like a cousin. It's something I'm not accustomed to, coming out of New York.”
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