Ricardo Santana Jr.
Here is your back to back to BACK Oaklawn riding champion! The young and talented jockey had done well in previous years at Oaklawn, but EXPLODED in 2013 and 2014 winning the racing title by an eye-popping twenty-four races in each of the two seasons. Last year the race got a little bit tighter, as Ramon Vazquez had an outstanding meet but Santana was still able to win 53-51. 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.
Joe Rocco Jr.
Rocco Jr. invaded from the east last year, and the talented rider was a welcomed addition to the already tough jockey colony. He normally spent his winters at Gulfstream, where two years ago he finished fifteenth in the rider standings. Last year at Oaklawn he rode for notable trainers like Steve Hobby, and picked up 21 wins in 172 starts. We’ll see if he can have continued success this year, and move up the standings.
Another jockey that is a rising star in the game! Vazquez is connected with powerful owner Danny Caldwell which helped him have a spectacular 2015. He finished a very close second at Oaklawn in the jockey standings losing by just two races, followed Oaklawn up with a jockey title at Prairie Meadows, and a tie for the jockey title at Remington Park. He’ll once again ride first call for Caldwell, but look for him to pick up other mounts just like he did last season. If he can pick up enough he could end up winning the Oaklawn title for the first time in his young career.
Oaklawn Park welcomes back Corey Nakatani once again this year as he is leaving California for Hot Springs, AR. This is something Nakantani has done in the past with a tremendous amount of success. You can bet he’ll be looking for a Kentucky Derby horse as he’s already been rumored to be lined up with the barn of Mark Casse and D Wayne Lukas. Steve Asmussen has used Nakatani in the past as well, so you know this jock will be well backed once the 2016 meet kicks off.
Luis finished fifth in last year’s Oaklawn standings, and continues to be a model of consistency each and every year. 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 riding title multiple times here, and should have another solid year. Perhaps the most exciting thing for Quinonez is the 3 year old crop of Donnie K Von Hemel who he rides first call for throughout the year.
Last year Landeros burst onto the Oaklawn scene with a solid seventh place finish in the jockey standings as he took home 22 wins from 139 starts. The majority of his wins came for leading trainer Chris Hartman, and one would think he’ll try to team up with him once again this year. Perhaps his most important mount will be on the talented sprinter Alsvid who has turned into one the best sprinters in this area over the last few years. Expect continued improvement from Landeros during this meet.
After finishing outside the top 10 in both 2013 and 2014 Canchari finally broke through last year winning 21 races and finishing in a tie for seventh in the jockey standings. This year he will be represented by agent Gene Short who will also have the book for Corey Nakatani so you can bet he’ll be well connected. If he can land a few more mounts he’ll be set to move up the standings even more this year.
Birzer had another solid Oaklawn meet in 2015, finishing eleventh in the standings with 18 wins. Even though his numbers were down from the previous few years, he was still riding consistently while picking up nearly 200 mounts at the meet. Look for Birzer to get back to the winners circle more often this year as he comes into the 2016 somewhat flying under the radar.
Quietly this jockey has put together back to back solid campaigns at Oaklawn Park. After a solid tenth place finish in the standings two years ago Loveberry was even better in 2015 picking up 23 victories and landing in sixth place in the jockey standings. His progress is starting to become visible, and he is making strides with landing new trainers to ride for each year. With a little luck he could improve on those 2015 number even more this year.
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 four 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.