Ricardo Santana Jr.
Here is your back to back Oaklawn riding champion! The super young and talented jockey had done well in previous years at Oaklawn, but EXPLODED in 2013 winning the racing title by an eye-popping twenty-four races. Last year he was just as dominate as he won by the exact same margin. Once again he should have the power of top trainer Steve Asmussen on his side which is always a key ingredient to success. This is an up and coming super star who is only going to get better with age, and has proved now that he can win anywhere.
Bridgmohan invades from the Fair Grounds where he finished fifth in the jockey standings a year ago. While Steve Asmussen has had tremendous success with jockey Ricardo Santana at Oaklawn, he’s also had success with Bridgmohan over the years. How the Asmussen horses will be divided up will make a huge impact for these two riders, however with a resume like Bridgmohan’s you would think he’ll be able to pick up mounts from other barns as well.
Joe Rocco Jr.
Rocco invades from the east, and the talented rider will be a welcomed addition to an already tough jockey colony. Rocco normally spends his winters at Gulfstream, where last year he finished fifteenth in the rider standings last year. However, he’s no stranger to Oaklawn as he’s shipped in over the last few years to ride horse such as Tiz Miz Sue and Don’t Tell Sophia. You can bet this guy will have no trouble getting mounts for the 2015 meeting.
Another jockey that is a rising star in the game! Vazquez is connected with powerful owner Danny Caldwell which helped him have a spectacular 2014. He finished a solid third at Oaklawn, followed by another third at Prairie Meadows, and then dominated at Remington Park and won the jockey title. He’ll once again ride a lot for Caldwell, and if he can pick up one more big client he could compete for the top spot.
Luis finished seventh in last year’s Oaklawn standings coming off an injury that forced him to miss a lot of 2013. Quinonez brings an incredible amount of experience to Oaklawn, and rides for some of the top barns on the grounds year in and year out. He’s won the title multiple times here, and should have another solid year.
Nobody dominated the Midwest and Southwest circuits like Cliff Berry in 2011 and 2012, but he was unable to win a meet title the last two years. However, don’t let that get you down on him. He was still a solid fourth at Lone Star Park, and was second at Remington Park only missing out on first by 11 races in 2014. Look for him to improve on his tenth place finish last year at Oaklawn as this guy is as experienced as they come.
You can’t talk about Midwest jockeys without mentioning Terry Thompson. He’s been a Hot Springs fixture for years, and last year he once again had a nice meet finishing sixth. Rumor has it trainer Chris Richard is loaded for the upcoming meet, and that could move Thompson up the ladder even more considering he is usually Richard’s go to jockey. Thompson is known as a speed rider, which is something Richard also likes. He might be sitting on a very big meet.
This guy is becoming known at Oaklawn for winning big three-year old races. In recent years he’s captured the Arkansas Derby twice with Line of David and Archarcharch, and two years ago he won the Smarty Jones and Rebel Stakes aboard Will Take Charge. His connection with D Wayne Lukas always gives him the opportunity to get aboard some very talented prospects, and this year will be no different. Look for Court to have mounts in all the big three-year old races.
Speed is this guy’s game! Nobody has more of a “speed rider” reputation than David Mello. Those tactics are best on display at Prairie Meadows where the track always favors speed as he dominated the jockey standings there in 2014. However he’s not just a Prairie Meadows specialist as he finished second in the standing at Oaklawn in 2014 as well. He rides a lot of horses for Chris Richard as well as Danny Caldwell, so that is two more big pluses in his favor.
This jockey needs no introduction! The recent Hall of Fame inductee is a fan favorite, and is one of the staples at Oaklawn Park. Calvin’s last three seasons have been plagued with injury and inconsistency, but he’s finally healthy once again and working out horses currently at Oaklawn. This is his time of year to shine, and you can bet he’ll be looking for his next Kentucky Derby horse.