For the first time in Oaklawn's 115-year history, winning horses will return to the Larry Snyder Winner's Circle Friday, opening day of the scheduled 57-day meeting.
The new winner's circle across from the finish line was dedicated to the legendary jockey and longtime Oaklawn steward shortly before he died Oct. 29. Jeanette Snyder, Larry's wife of 57 years, will make a presentation to the winning connections of Friday's first race.
She said she has never seen the new winner's circle in person. It includes a plaque of her husband affixed to a natural stone structure that protects the scale used to weigh jockeys following a race.
“I'm very proud,” Snyder said. “I just hope I can get through it.”
Larry Snyder enjoyed a 35-year career as a jockey that began in 1960 and included eight riding titles at Oaklawn where he won 1,248 recorded races at the Hot Springs track.
Among his most notable Oaklawn victories were the 1983 Rebel Stakes aboard that year's Kentucky Derby winner Sunny's Halo, as well as the 1989 Arkansas Derby on Dansil, whom he would ride to a fourth-place finish in both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes.
Snyder became only the sixth rider in U.S. racing history to reach 6,000 career victories Aug. 24, 1989, at Louisiana Downs. That same year, Snyder's distinguished career was recognized by his peers through the prestigious George Woolf Memorial Jockey Award. Snyder retired in 1994 with career earnings of $47,207,289 and 6,388 recorded victories, which still ranks him 14th among all North American jockeys more than 24 years after his retirement. He was a steward at Oaklawn in 1995-2017.
The new winner's circle was dedicated Oct. 25, but neither Jeanette Snyder nor her husband attended the ceremony because of his condition.
“I've seen a picture of it on TV they sent me, but I'm sure it's not doing it justice,” she said. “I'm really proud they asked me to do it.”
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