Torres Makes Oaklawn History 

January 11, 2023

Cristian Torres (Coady Photography)

Milestone Watch; Options for Gar Hole

Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates

HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Cristian Torres became the fastest jockey in Oaklawn history to reach $1 million in purse earnings at a meet when he scored a riding double last Saturday.

Torres ($1,072,393) reached seven figures on Day 11 of the scheduled 68-day season after guiding Lovely Ride to a three-quarter length victory in the $150,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles for trainer Robertino Diodoro. Torres had earlier won Saturday’s second race aboard Arthurian, which marked Diodoro’s 3,000th career North American victory, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.

Florent Geroux had previously been the fastest jockey to reach $1 million in purse earnings at Oaklawn, hitting seven figures ($1,003,754) on Day 12 of the 2021-2022 meeting.

“Robertino is a great trainer and I’ve very happy to ride for him,” Torres said following the Pippin. “He always does a great job. He knows where to put the horses. It’s very nice to win for him today.”

Torres ($1,111,060) has already established a single-season Oaklawn personal best for purse earnings, eclipsing his previous high ($1,034,104) in 2021, his debut meet in Hot Springs. Torres’ mounts earned $920,548 during an injury-shortened 2021-2022 meeting.

Torres also tops the 2022-2023 standings in victories (15) and stakes victories (four) after the first 12 days of the meeting. Three of the stakes victories have been for Diodoro. Jockey Francisco Arrieta ($1,029,122) surpassed $1 million in purse earnings at the meet last Sunday. Arrieta was Oaklawn’s co-leading rider last season and is third in 2022-2023 with 13 victories. 

Options for Gar Hole

Arkansas-bred star Gar Hole will be considered for the $150,000 King Cotton Stakes for older sprinters Jan. 28 at Oaklawn, trainer John Ortiz said. 

Gar Hole, a homebred for Arkansas lumberman John Ed Anthony, earned a career-high 105 Equibase speed rating for his front-running three-length allowance victory over state-breds Jan. 1 at Oaklawn. Gar Hole ($4.80), the 7-5 favorite under eight-time Oaklawn riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr., covered 6 furlongs in a sharp 1:10.08 over a fast track. 

“He’s a horse for the course,” Ortiz said. “Of course, Mr. John Ed Anthony is extremely pleased. This is a horse that’s extremely loved because he’s a local horse. His start back at Indiana was a just a warmup and a prep for him. He came firing on all four cylinders.” 

Gar Hole dominated Arkansas-breds at the 2021-2022 Oaklawn meeting, winning four starts, including the $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes, by a combined 18 ¼ lengths. After finishing a strong third against open company last April at Oaklawn, Gar Hole didn’t resurface until Nov. 8 at Horseshoe Indianapolis, where he finished an even fourth in an entry-level allowance sprint.

“He still has open conditions,” Ortiz said. “The time that he ran (1:10.08), I think that was the fastest time of the day and that really impressed me because I think that can compete with open company at a stakes level down there. Ricardo geared him down. He called me after the race and was so excited. I was flying back from Florida, so I got to watch the race on the plane. He called me and was very happy. He said this horse came back better than ever.”

Nominations to the 6-furlong King Cotton close Friday. 

“There’s no limits to him right now,” Ortiz said. “We’ll just take it one day at a time and see how his training goes and we’ll let Ricardo be a part of the plan here and just let us know if he can compete at that level.”

A 5-year-old gelded son of Tekton, Gar Hole has a 5-0-1 record from eight lifetime starts and earnings of $349,274. He’s 5 for 7 at Oaklawn.

The $150,000 Nodouble Breeders’ Stakes for Arkansas-breds at 6 furlongs is March 4. 

Robertino Diodoro in his 3000th Win Interview at Oaklawn Park (Coady Photography

Milestone Watch 

Robertino Diodoro enters Friday with 295 career Oaklawn victories, including 16 to the lead the 2022-2023 standings.

Diodoro was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2020 and recorded his 3,000th career North American victory (United States and Canada) last Saturday at Oaklawn with Arthurian, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization. Diodoro was the 37th trainer in North American history to reach the milestone, based on Equibase statistics.

Diodoro has three horses entered Friday at Oaklawn, one Saturday and three Sunday. 

Only 14 trainers have reached 300 career victories at Oaklawn, the last being Ron Moquett of Hot Springs Dec. 10.

Trainer Chris Hartman enters Friday with 195 career Oaklawn victories. Hartman was Oaklawn’s leading trainer in 2015 and is second this season with 10 victories from just 24 starts after recording a double last Sunday. Hartman won the seventh race with Fifty Cent Dollars ($18.20) and the eighth race with Edge to Edge ($8.80). Hartman also has four seconds and three thirds at the 2022-2023 meeting.

Hartman has five horses entered Friday at Oaklawn, two Saturday and four Sunday.

Finish Lines

Lovely Ride earned a preliminary Beyer Speed Figure of 91 for her front-running three-quarter length victory in the $150,000 Pippin Stakes for older fillies and mares at 1 1/16 miles last Saturday at Oaklawn. Oaklawn’s two-turn stakes series for older females continues with the $250,000 Bayakoa (G3) Feb. 4. Regarding her next start, trainer Robertino Diodoro said: “You know what the old saying is: ‘We’ll let the horse tell us.’ She doesn’t owe us anything.” Lovely Ride also won Oaklawn’s $150,000 Mistletoe Stakes at 1 mile Dec. 10. Lovely Ride became the second two-time winner at the meeting last Saturday. … 

Keystone Field, winner of the $199,875 Claiming Crown Jewel at 1 1/8 miles Nov. 12 at Churchill Downs for trainer Mike Maker, recorded the fastest 1 1/16-mile time of the 2022-2023 Oaklawn meeting (1:42.80) in last Saturday’s eighth race, a $106,000 allowance for older horses. Isaac Castillo rode Keystone Field ($7.80) for owner Kirk Wyckoff’s Three Diamonds Farm. The Jewel was the richest of eight starter-allowance races during the annual Claiming Crown Championship Series, which matches the country’s top claiming horses. … The $150,000 American Beauty Stakes for older female sprinters Jan. 21 at Oaklawn closed Jan. 6 with 29 nominations.

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