Oaklawn Barn Notes by Robert Yates
HOT SPRINGS, Ark.—Trainer Ron Moquett of Hot Springs became just the 14th trainer in history to reach 300 career victories at Oaklawn when he saddled Spurrier to win Saturday’s fifth race.
Moquett, 51, exchanged a high five with winning jockey Rafael Bejarano on the sloppy racing surface after Spurrier ($48.20) splashed to a 1 ¼-length debut victory in the maiden special weight sprint for 2-year-olds run in the rain. Moquett, who co-owns Spurrier with Ella Lou Smith of Hot Springs, started his first horse at Oaklawn in 1998 and saddled his first winner in Hot Springs in 1999, according to Equibase, racing’s official data gathering organization.
“I’m super proud of that,” Moquett said Sunday morning. “I didn’t even think about it (300). But to have that many wins at one of your favorite spots is pretty cool. Almost a third of my wins have come from here.”
Spurrier, who is named after Heisman Trophy winner and college football coaching legend Steve Spurrier, marked the 2,482ndOaklawn start for Moquett and his third winner of the 2022-2023 meeting. Moquett and owner Harry Rosenblum of Little Rock, Ark., teamed to win two races Friday, Day 1 of the scheduled 68-day meeting.
“We’ll take it,” Moquett said. “This is a good spot to get hot.”
Moquett, who has a home adjacent to Oaklawn’s backstretch, entered Sunday with $14,112,273 in career purse earnings at Oaklawn. Moquett has 22 career stakes victories at Oaklawn, including seven with his most noted runner, 2020 champion male sprinter Whitmore. Moquett entered with 930 career victories overall, according to Equibase. The first came in 1998.
The late Bob Holthus (867) is the winningest trainer in Oaklawn history. Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen (820 through Saturday) is the only other trainer in Oaklawn history with more than 800. Randy Morse became the 13th trainer to reach 300 career Oaklawn victories during the 2021-2022 meeting.