Horse of the Meet: American Pharoah – He came to Hot Springs and absolutely put on a show! Every Oaklawn fan (except for the connections that had to face him) should be happy that he came to here and showed his brilliance. His Arkansas Derby win was the most impressive I’ve seen since following racing, and the ease of which he does things is scary. If he stays healthy the sky is the limit.
Older Male of the Meet: Race Day – It’s hard to put together two back to back races as good as Race Day did at Oaklawn this year. He was able to run down Midnight Hawk in a sloppy version of the Grade 3 Razorback, and then demolished a very good field in the Grade 2 Oaklawn Handicap. His time in that race was actually better than that of American Pharoah…which is obviously very exciting!
Older Female of the Meet: Untapable – This division was very strong this year, but the champion Untapable came out on top after taking home the Grade 1 Apple Blossom. She came back from a layoff in March and was actually defeated by Gold Medal Dancer in the Grade 2 Azeri, but easily turned the tables on her in the Apple Blossom. She’s certainly showed she’s back in good form, and looks to be ready for another huge campaign.
3 Year Old Male of the Meet: American Pharoah – Obviously if you win the “Horse of the Meet” then you have to win this award too. Credit should be given to Far Right as he won the first two Derby prep races of the season, but it was American Pharoah who won the last two, which are also the biggest two. On to Kentucky for him!
3 Year Old Female of the Meet: Promise Me Silver – This was an odd category because nobody stamped themselves as a star. Sarah’s Sis, Include Betty, Take Charge Brandi, and even Oceanwave all had their moments but none put together two victories. So that’s why we landed on the sprinter Promise Me Silver. She won twice (including one victory over Sarah’s Sis) and also looks to be the filly who can go on to big things now that the meet has ended.
Sprinter of the Meet: Alsvid – This was the hardest decision I’ve made in the four years of the awards! Alsivd, Ivan Fallunovalot, and Gentlemen’s Bet all deserve the award, but in the end I went with Alsvid because he won the Count Fleet which is the biggest race of the meet. All three of these horses are primed to have big 2015’s so maybe down the road we can separate the three a little better than we can at this point in time.
Owner of the Meet: Danny Caldwell – Another year, another easy owners title victory for Danny Caldwell. Caldwell has now won back to back Owners titles at Oaklawn, as well as FIVE straight meet victories dating back to Remington Park in 2013. He will now look to make it six in a row as he heads to Prairie Meadows where he’ll bang heads with local Iowa owner Maggi Moss.
Trainer of the Meet: Chris Hartman – For the first time in awhile it’s not Steve Asmussen who won the trainers title at Oaklawn. Hartman won his first Oaklawn meet title, using a MASSIVE second half of the season to beat Asmussen by a comfortable margin. To top it off, Hartman won the Grade 3 Count Fleet with one of his best and most consistent horses, Alsvid. Hartman will now head to Chruchill Downs for the first time.
Jockey of the Meet: Ricardo Santana Jr. – Another year, another riding title for this rising super star jockey. Even though he missed the last week of the meet with illness he style managed to hang on to his lead, barely beating Ramon Vazquez by two. Hopefully Santana can rest up and get well soon, as Churchill Downs is right around the corner.
Favorite Moment of the Meet: American Pharoah Dominates the Arkansas Derby – Anytime you see a winner like this, and think about how he can represent the track from here on out its something special. American Pharoah put on a clinic in the Arkansas Derby…perhaps won of the best we’ve ever seen. His total dominance was something to behold.
Restaurant of the Meet: Hawgs Pizza – For the second 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: Roadrunnerbeepbeep – You don’t have to be a fan of the cartoon to enjoy Frank’s call of RoadrunnerBEEPBEEP! What makes this horse even cooler is the fact that he is actually decent as well. He finished second in a maiden his first time out, and came back to win next time out. It will be fun to listen to how other track announces call this horses name when he runs next.
Race of the Meet: The Arkansas Derby –