Perennial local riding champion Ricardo Santana Jr. became Oaklawn’s first $30 million man with his victory in Saturday’s $600,000 Fantasy Stakes (G3) for 3-year-old fillies.
Santana, who has topped the Oaklawn standings seven times, eclipsed $30 million in career purse earnings in Hot Springs when Pauline’s Pearl captured the major Kentucky Oaks prep by a length over Ava’s Grace.
Santana completed Saturday – Oaklawn was dark Sunday because of Easter – with $30,058,548 in purse earnings. Pauline’s Pearl capped a four-win day for Santana, 28, who had earlier captured the $200,000 Purple Martin Stakes for 3-year-old filly sprinters aboard Abrogate. All four wins were for his major client, Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen.
Santana became Oaklawn’s career leader in purse earnings Feb. 17, 2020, when he won the $750,000 Southwest Stakes (G3) for 3-year-olds aboard the Asmussen-trained Silver Prospector. The victory pushed Santana’s total to nearly $24.2 million, surpassing the still-active Hall of Famer Calvin Borel (roughly $24 million). Borel was Oaklawn’s leading rider in 1995 and 2001.
A day before Silver Prospector’s victory, Santana recorded his 500th career Oaklawn victory aboard Icecap for Asmussen. Santana now has 595 victories (295 were for Asmussen) and is poised to become just the ninth rider in Oaklawn history to reach 600. He is named on eight horses when racing resumes Thursday and eight horses Friday.
Santana also has a chance to break his single-season Oaklawn record for purse earnings. He enters Thursday with $3,383,895, slightly less than $1 million behind his record $4,317,757 in 2019. Thursday is Day 36 of the 51-day meeting.
Santana began riding at Oaklawn in 2011 and was leading rider in 2013, 2014, 2015, 2016, 2017, 2018 and 2020. Santana has a meet-high 49 victories this year – 16 more than runner-up Francisco Arrieta – and also leads all riders in purse earnings.
The Fantasy was Santana’s 43rd career Oaklawn stakes victory.