Horse of the Meet: Subtle Indian – For the first time ever a sprinter wins this award! How about this…Subtle Indian was the only horse to win four races this meet, and he never trailed at any point in all four of them! He rounded out his meet with an incredible performance in the Count Fleet Handicap where he ran 6 furlongs in 1:08.80 while just running the competition into the ground. If he can hold this form I can only think of one sprinter out there that can beat him and that is Runhappy. Subtle Indian winning this award is quite shocking considering he didn’t even finish his last two races prior to arriving to Oaklawn Park. All is well now though, and this horse has a huge future!
Older Male of the Meet: Effinex – I guess the friendly confines of Hot Springs, Arkansas treated him a little better than the hustle and bustle of Los Angeles, California. Effinex was the complete class of the Oaklawn Handicap, and thankfully he did not have a bad case of hives this time out. After finishing third to Melatonin in the Santa Anita Handicap, he turned the tables with ease on him at Oaklawn Park. This race sets him up for a big second half of the year, and lets not forget this horse finished second in the Breeders Cup Classic last year. Looks to be better than ever now that he’s hive-less.
Older Female of the Meet: Forever Unbridled – It was hard to not pick Call Pat in this spot as she did win two of the biggest races of the meet, but Forever Unbridled won the biggest one of all while beating Call Pat easily. Forever Unbridled would not have been my most likely candidate to win the Apple Blossom at the beginning of the year, but by the time the race rolled around I could definitely see it happening and it did. This horse has gotten really good as a four year old, and the sky is the limit for what she might be able to achieve.
3 Year Old Male of the Meet: Creator – He came to Oaklawn Park in February as a maiden…and left here in April as the Arkansas Derby winner! In two months he won a maiden by open lengths, finished a solid third in the Rebel Stakes, and then became a Grade 1 winner. When you look at it that way…that’s pretty incredible! Trainer Steve Asmussen and assistant Darren Fleming did an outstanding job with this horse, and obviously this horse just peaked at the perfect time. He’ll head to Kentucky as one of the favorites on the first Saturday in May.
3 Year Old Female of the Meet: Terra Promessa – Easy choice here as Terra Promessa was a blowout winner of the Honeybee Stakes, and then held off a vicious run by her stablemate to win the Fantasy Stakes as well. This Curlin filly all of the sudden now has a big chance to win the Kentucky Oaks with the recent defection of Songbird. We’ll see how things progress in that department, but her perfect three for three record at Oaklawn was something to behold.
Sprinter of the Meet: Subtle Indian – Obviously if this horse won the “Horse of the Meet” then he’s going to win this award. This category was probably the easiest decision of them all as he just absolutely dominated the competition, and of course won the meets biggest race for sprinters. We are very excited to see what he does next!
Owner of the Meet: Danny Caldwell – Another year, and another dominating win in the Owner Standings for team DRC. Caldwell has became the “peoples trainer” during his first winning stint at Oaklawn Park, and that has stuck with him throughout this three year run. If you need proof of this just look at his Owners Title presentation picture that is filled with hundreds of friends. He’s been accessible to fans from the beginning which is something more owners could certainly learn from as the game needs more of this.
Trainer of the Meet: Steve Asmussen – After losing to Chris Hartman last year trainer Steve Asmussen responded in a massive way this year. He won the trainers title by 20 races over Hartman, and amassed almost $3.5 million dollars in earnings including winning the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby! Assistant trainer Darren Fleming deserves some credit as well as he oversees the day to day operation at Oaklawn Park, and always does a fine job wherever Asmussen sends him.
Jockey of the Meet: Ricardo Santana Jr. – It’s Ricardo’s world and we’re just living in it! Santana won an eye popping 80 races, including his first ever Grade 1 win in the Arkansas Derby with Creator who was at double digit odds. The only issue with Ricardo is he has several suspensions to serve starting next year at Oaklawn Park after some rough riding and disqualifications. If the suspensions are not reduced he could sit out as many as 15 days. However, as of now he is the king of Oaklawn!
Favorite Moment of the Meet: Suddenbreakingnews wins the Southwest Stakes – Everyone knows we are the Von Hemel family’s biggest fans, and when Suddenbreakingnews came from the clouds to win the Southwest Stakes its safe to say our jaws dropped! After watching Synchrony for most of the race it looked bleak for Von Hemel as Whitmore passed him with ease, but nobody expected Suddenbreakingnews to make his amazing run after being last up the backstretch. Now Suddenbreakingnews has made it to the Kentucky Derby so it makes the moment even better!
Restaurant of the Meet: Hawgs Pizza – For the third year in a row Hawgs Pizza is a clear runaway winner. It’s the home of good pizza, cold brews, and live entertainment on Saturday nights. Also the company you keep at a place like this is first class!
Cool Name Award: Effinex – This is the coolest name in horse racing! Let’s face it we all have an “f’ing ex” and can relate to the name of this horse. Plus, its very clever. The name snuck right past the jockey club when getting approved as I’m sure they had no clue what it meant. The fact that this horse has gone on to do great things makes it even better. Go Effinex go!!
Race of the Meet: The Oaklawn Handicap –