Jennifer Hoyt, Oaklawn Racing
HOT SPRINGS, Ark. – California invader Ginobili lived up to his billing as the 9-5 favorite and drew off to an impressive four-length victory in Saturday’s $150,000 Fifth Season Stakes before an on-track crowd of 17,500.
Ginobili broke well under jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. and moved into second behind pacesetter Dreamer’s Disease, who set fractions of :23 1/5 and :46 2/5 for the first half mile. The winner moved to the front without being asked mid-way around the final turn and from here the only battle was for second. Runnin’ Ray, who at one point dropped back to sixth, got up for second, finishing a neck in front of 2022 Fifth Season winner Rated R Superstar, who closed from last and came wide to get third in his 10-year-old debut. The winning time for the one-mile race was 1:37 1/5 over a fast track.
Ginobili, a 6-year-old Munnings gelding trained by Peter Miller, improved his record to 4-3-1 in 17 starts and has now earned $561,050 for owners Slam Dunk Racing, Jerry McClanahan and Michael Nentwig. He returned $5.80, $4.60 and $4 as the strong favorite.
Live racing resumes Sunday with a 12:30 p.m. first post.
Winning jockey Ricardo Santana Jr.: “The only thing I can say: Anybody could have won on that horse today, how he was training in the morning. He was training impressively, and I was excited to see him come back from a layoff. First race of the year. I can’t wait for what’s next for that horse.”
Winning trainer Peter Miller: “He sat off that speed horse (Dreamer’s Disease), kind of a long shot, and just pushed the button when he (Ricardo Santana Jr.) thought it was time. There’s a very good chance that he’ll stay there, but we’ll talk to the owners and see how he pulls up and kind of make a plan from there.”
Winning owner Nick Cosato: “There’s nothing wrong with leaving gas in the tank, right? So, if he has a little more gas, it will only help us down the line.”
Jockey Martin Garcia, second on Runnin’ Ray: “He tries his best all the time. He never disappoints anybody. I thought today was a tough race because the winner is a really good horse.”