HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Seven-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. reached three more milestones Saturday after riding three winners – all for Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen – including Super Stock in the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1).
Santana became the ninth rider in Oaklawn history to reach 600 career victories when favored Mighty Mischief ($3.60) won the 10th race, a first-level allowance sprint for 3-year-olds. Santana recorded No. 601 a little more than an hour later when Super Stock ($26.40) captured the Arkansas Derby.
Santana broke his single-season Oaklawn record for purse earnings after Super Stock collected $600,000 for winning the Arkansas Derby. Super Stock is trained by his main client, Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen, and co-owned by Asmussen’s father, Keith. Santana finished Saturday, Day 38 of the 51-day meeting, with $4,404,778 in purse earnings. He set the previous record ($4,317,757) in 2019. The Arkansas Derby victory represented Santana’s 300th at Oaklawn for Asmussen.
“Steve is the trainer that opened the door for me since I was a little kid,” Santana said during training hours Sunday morning. “It worked out perfect because of his mom and dad. I’m really blessed to be the one to win the Arkansas Derby for him.”
A week after becoming the first rider in Oaklawn history to reach $30 million in career purse earnings when he guided the Asmussen-trained Pauline’s Pearl to victory in the $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies, Santana surpassed $31 million with Super Stock’s victory.
Santana, 28, was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 2013 – 2018 and 2020. He entered Sunday with 55 victories, 19 more than runner-up David Cabrera.
“So far, so good,” Santana said. “Horses are running well. A of trainers have given me help here. I’m really blessed to be doing what I’m doing right now.”
The Arkansas Derby was Santana’s 44th career Oaklawn stakes victory. He has won the Arkansas Derby three times.
Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
Top Photo: Santana piloted Super Stock to an Arkansas Derby win, Santana’s third. (Coady)