A day after reaching a milestone for victories at Oaklawn, Ricardo Santana Jr. became its all-time leader for purse earnings by a jockey in Monday's $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds.
Santana's victory aboard Silver Prospector helped boost the jockey's career purse earnings in Hot Springs to $24,182,833, according to Equibase, racing's official data gathering organization. Santana surpassed the still-active Calvin Borel ($24,024,444), a member of the National Museum of Racing Hall of Fame and Oaklawn's leading rider in 1995 and 2001.
Santana rode his 500th Oaklawn winner, Icecap, in Sunday's ninth race, then added two more victories Monday, notably Silver Prospector in the Southwest, a major Kentucky Derby prep. Fittingly, Icecap and Silver Prospector were for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, the jockey's biggest client. Santana began riding regularly for Asmussen at the 2013 Oaklawn meet when the jockey had 70 winners to capture the first of six consecutive local riding titles.
Through Monday, Santana had ridden 225 winners (23 were stakes) for Asmussen at Oaklawn and won races for 64 trainers in Hot Springs since his local debut in 2011.
Ruben Munoz, Santana's longtime agent, called reaching the milestones, “a blessing.”
“Staying humble, healthy and riding for winning trainers like Steve and others, only good things can happen,” Munoz said. “And gratefully, they have. The horses that Ricardo has ridden these last several years have turned heads. We are concerned with the bigger picture.”
A native of Panama, Santana rode his first winner in the United States Sept. 21, 2009, at Delaware Park. Santana recorded his first career Grade 1 victory aboard the Asmussen-trained Creator in the $1 million Arkansas Derby in 2016 at Oaklawn, and the jockey broke his single-season record for purse earnings ($4,317,757) at last year's meeting.
Santana's two biggest victories at the 2019 Oaklawn meet were for Asmussen – Lady Apple in the $500,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies and Mitole in the $500,000 Count Fleet Sprint Handicap (G3) for older horses. Santana was the regular rider of Mitole, who clinched an Eclipse Award as the country's champion male sprinter with a victory in the $2 million Breeders' Cup Sprint (G1) Nov. 2 at Santa Anita.
Santana's mounts earned a career-high $16,707,723 last year to rank ninth nationally. The jockey's yearly circuit is Arkansas, Kentucky and New York. Santana recorded his 1,000th career North American victory April 12, 2018, at Oaklawn aboard the Asmussen-trained Westfest.
Santana and defending champion David Cohen entered Thursday with a meet-high 17 victories. Borel had two victories and 965 in his Oaklawn career.
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