Torres Hopes To Keep Momentum Going in Kentucky

April 8, 2023

Cristian Torres after his win aboard Last Samurai in the Razorback Handicap (Coady Photography)

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.— After winning his first career riding title in December at Remington Park, Cristian Torres has ridden that momentum to a memorable 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting, leading all jockeys, through Friday, in victories (79), purse earnings ($4,882,926) and stakes victories (six).

That success has led Torres, 25, to take a different path this spring and summer. Torres said Friday morning that he will be based at Churchill Downs after the Oaklawn meeting ends May 6.

Torres was originally scheduled to return this summer to Lone Star Park, but said in early March that he was considering a circuit change after his meteoric career rise the last 8 ½ months, triggered by the hiring of retired trainer Cody Autrey as his agent and, subsequently, riding first call for Robertino Diodoro and Karl Broberg, two of the winningest trainers in North American history.

“Everything is going so good right now,” Torres said. “Cody and I were talking and we’ve got to take advantage of the momentum. I think it’s the right time to make a move. Hopefully, it works out.”

Churchill Downs’ spring meeting begins April 29 and Torres said he plans to ride there May 2 and May 3 before returning to Oaklawn for its final three days (May 4-6).

“We don’t anticipate missing any days here,” Torres said. “We don’t want to miss any days here.”

Diodoro races at Churchill Downs and Torres has been cultivating new Kentucky-based clients the last few weeks at Oaklawn, namely trainers Kenny McPeek and Cherie DeVaux. Torres rode three horses Friday for McPeek and was aboard DeVaux’s first career Oaklawn winner, Shotgun Hottie, in a $105,000 allowance race March 12. Torres also rode the DeVaux-trained Cagliostro in the $1 million Louisiana Derby (G2) March 25 at Fair Grounds.

“We’re working our way in with Kenny McPeek,” Torres said. “He’s going to help us out over there. We know he’s got his rider over there (Brian Hernandez Jr.), but he actually talked to Cody and said he would help us out over there. I think we’re going to have a chance to ride for Cherie DeVaux, too. We’re building a good relationship with her and her husband (noted bloodstock agent/owner David Ingordo), too. So hopefully, when we get to Kentucky, we can have a chance to keep riding for her.”

Torres began riding at Oaklawn in 2021, brought to the Midwest by his then-agent Ruben Munoz, after beginning his career in the spring of 2019 at Gulfstream Park. Torres rode 22 winners at the 2021 Oaklawn meeting and 19 during an injury-shortened 2021-2022 meeting. Torres entered Saturday with 120 career victories at Oaklawn and 498 overall, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

A native of Puerto Rico, Torres rode his first career winner April 21, 2019, at Gulfstream Park and recorded his biggest career victory to date aboard Last Samurai in the $600,000 Razorback Handicap (G3) Feb. 18 at Oaklawn. Last Samurai, who is trained by Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, is pointing for the $1 million Oaklawn Handicap (G2) April 22.

“Actually, yesterday was my anniversary to begin riding,” Torres said. “This is my fourth year. I rode my first race April 6, 2019. It’s been a great four years. I’ve been blessed the last four years and hope to keep the momentum going and hope for a good meeting in Kentucky.”

@jonathanstettin great wrap up to the weekend. Had a $20 double to close SA with your picks!

pete daloia @coacpdaloia View testimonials