Ingrid Mason became the second female trainer in Oaklawn history to reach 100 career victories when Redneck Attack won the ninth race March 22, according to Equibase, racing's official data gathering organization.
Mason started her first horse in Hot Springs in 2010 and Redneck Attack represented her 13th victory at the meet. The only female trainer with more career Oaklawn victories is Lynn Chleborad, who had 120 through Sunday.
“That is awesome,” Mason said. “I love it. I’ve got a great team the last two years. I’m very grateful. It’s all part of the team.”
Mason made an immediate splash at Oaklawn, winning 9 of 21 starts with a modest five-horse stable at the 2010 meeting. Among those who had encouraged her to try Oaklawn was owner Coby Tresner, whose Crook’s Bodgit represented Mason’s first local winner Jan. 17, 2010. Crook’s Bodgit had given Mason her first career stakes victory in the $100,000 Star of Texas Dec. 5, 2009, at Sam Houston Race Park.
“Never thought I would be in Arkansas,” Mason said. “Now I’m buying a house. Go figure. Go from California to Florida to Arkansas.”
A former jockey, Mason grew up in northern California and saddled her first winner Feb. 26, 2005, at the now-defunct Bay Meadows in suburban San Francisco. She is best known for her work with multiple stakes winners Sarah Sis and Marquee Miss after picking both out for $20,000 at the OBS June sale on behalf of owner Joe Ragsdale.
Sarah Sis gave Mason her first career graded stakes victory in the $150,000 Honeybee (G3) for 3-year-old fillies in 2015 at Oaklawn. Marquee Miss won the $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes and $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes for 3-year-old fillies in 2016 at Oaklawn.
Mason has approximately 25 horses in training at Oaklawn, with significant other Mike Waters (Muddy Waters Stables LLC) now her major client. Waters campaigned Redneck Attack, who was claimed out of his victory for $12,500.
“This is absolutely the best meet I’ve had here,” Mason said. “Like I said, I’ve got a great team.”
Million Dollar Man
Robertino Diodoro became the second trainer at the meet to reach $1 million in purse earnings March 29, the 37th day of the scheduled 57-day meeting.
Diodoro, whose main client in runaway leading owner M and M Racing (Mike and Mickala Sisk), entered Thursday with $1,100,345 in purse earnings and 28 victories to rank second behind perennial champion Steve Asmussen in both categories. Diodoro, among the nation’s winningest trainers, has had a division in Hot Springs every year since 2015 and calls Oaklawn the most significant meet on his calendar.
Diodoro is on pace to surpass previous Oaklawn bests for victories (32 in 2018) and purse earnings ($1,487,654 in 2017).
“We had a couple of ups and downs, but for the most part this has probably been our best meet,” Diodoro said. “We want to finish strong. We’re going to stay here until the end. We want to win as many races as we can, that’s for sure. The money’s good. This is kind of becoming a second home here. I love it here, really. Not just the money and racing. Good town. Good people.”
Diodoro said he’s had around 40 horses on track throughout the meeting and shuttled additional stock from Louisiana Downs near Shreveport. Diodoro’s top assistant, Sean Williams, has been based this year at Oaklawn rather than Turf Paradise (Diodoro is the perennial champion at the Phoenix track) and foreman Ike Green has been a swingman at the Arkansas and Louisiana venues.
“Ike’s been a big part, just because we’ve got so many horses and shipping them back and forth,” said Diodoro, Oaklawn’s second-leading trainer the last two years. “Just nice to have your own guy. You don’t have to worry about a horse being stuck on the trailer for six hours and it’s only a three-hour drive. All those little things add up. It’s nice to have extra sets of eyes.”
Diodoro said he will be based at Churchill Downs and Canterbury Park after the Oaklawn meeting ends May 4. The move to Kentucky represents a major geographical shift for Diodoro, who had previously maintained a presence in New York. Diodoro said he will have 38 stalls at Churchill Downs.
“We’re definitely not downsizing on numbers, but just location for the summer,” Diodoro said. “We were there once before, but I think this is the first time that we’re going there with some stock. I’m going to be there. We’re going there not to fool around. We’re going there to win races. I’m excited about it.”
Diodoro’s go-to rider, David Cohen, is also relocating to Kentucky after previously being based in New York following the Oaklawn meeting.
New Time for Dawn at Oaklawn
David Cohen, Oaklawn’s second-leading rider this year, and trainer Jinks Fires of Hot Springs are the special guests for Saturday’s Dawn at Oaklawn, a weekly question and answer session hosted by paddock analyst Nancy Holthus.
Holthus is scheduled to interview Cohen and Fires at 8 a.m. (Central) on the south grandstand apron. The weekly free program runs 7 a.m.-9 a.m. and features barn tours (7 a.m., 7:30 a.m., 8:30 a.m. and 9 a.m.) and complimentary pastries and coffee.
Fires is the trainer of multiple stakes winner Gray Attempt, who is pointing for the $1 million Arkansas Derby (G1) April 13.
Training hours were shortened Thursday morning because of heavy rainfall. … Through Sunday, the 39th day of the scheduled 57-day meeting, claims had generated $614,555 in sales tax revenue – $420,485 to the state and $97,035 to Hot Springs and Garland County – horsemen’s bookkeeper Terri Hoffrogge said Thursday morning. The state tax rate is 6.5 percent. It’s 1.5 percent for the city and county. Through Sunday, 391 claims had totaled $6,469,000. … Richard Eramia, who became the fifth jockey at the meet to reach $1 million in purse earnings Sunday, said he will ride regularly until closing day, May 4. Eramia has won riding titles the last two years at Lone Star Park, which opens April 18. Eramia said the money “is amazing here.” … Trainer Brad Cox entered Thursday with $999,901 in purse earnings at the meet. … Notable 2019 Oaklawn-raced horses scheduled to run Saturday at Keeneland include Honeybee winner Chocolate Kisses in the $500,000 Ashland Stakes (G1) for 3-year-old fillies, maiden special weights winner Market King in the $1 million Blue Grass Stakes (G2) for 3-year-olds and multiple stakes winner Amy’s Challenge in the $300,000 Madison Stakes (G1) for older female sprinters. Amy’s Challenge is the 7-5 program favorite for Saturday’s $150,000 Carousel Stakes at Oaklawn, but trainer Mac Robertson is opting for the Madison. “She’s Grade 1 ready,” Robertson said late last month. Also entered in the Madison is 2018 female sprint champion Shamrock Rose, who ran third in the $350,000 Azeri Stakes (G2) March 16.