How Oaklawn trainers fared at Churchill Downs spring meet in 2019

Profile Picture: James Scully

May 5th, 2020

With Oaklawn Park closing for the spring season, let us analyze how trainers that move their talent to Churchill Downs fare.

Churchill Downs resumes live racing on May 16, and it promises to be a competitive 26-day spring meet. Circumstances are different from last year, with no lead-in from Keeneland and other venues due to the COVID-19 pandemic, but barns from the recently completed Oaklawn Park meet will be based at Churchill Downs.

Are there any trends we can pick up?

Oaklawn raced through the first Saturday in May last year, with Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen leading all trainers by wins for the 10th time. Asmussen won three races on Oaklawn’s closing day in 2019, compiling a total of eight wins over the final five days of the meet.

RELATED: What to expect at the upcoming Churchill Downs spring meet

His deep stable carried its winning ways into the Churchill Downs spring meet, with Asmussen winning eight of his first 24 starts (33%) including multiple stakes on Kentucky Derby weekend. He finished the first three weeks with 10-for-38 mark (26% win), and Asmussen easily led the 2019 spring meet standings wire-to-wire, padding his Churchill record with a 21st overall title.

After finishing a clear second to Asmussen last year, Robertino Diordoro won his first training title at Oakawn in 2020, edging Asmussen by a 52-48 win margin. His barn won 48-of-199 starts in 2019 (24%), and 52-of-236 starts this year (22%).

However, Diodoro did not carry his momentum forward to Churchill; it went the opposite way. He opened 2-for-18 (11%) over the first four weeks, and concluded the 2019 spring meet with a 49-6-6-10 record (12%). It will be interesting to see whether Diodoro can reverse the slide this year.

Brad Cox finished third in the 2020 Oaklawn standings, winning 26-of-129 starts (20%), and Ron Moquett came next in fourth after connecting with 18-of-108 (17%). John Sadler (15 wins, 23%), Tom Amoss (14 wins, 17%), and Ingrid Mason (14 wins, 11%) rounded out the top seven.

Cox, who won 20-of-94 starts (21%) at Oaklawn in 2019, started the spring meet slowly. The Cox stable posted a 2-for-16 mark (12%) over the first 13 days at Churchill before turning things around stylishly, finishing third overall by wins with a 16-for-55 record (29%).

Amoss often gets off to a fast start during the spring meet at Churchill. After winning with three of his first 11 runners (27%) last year, Amoss completed the first three weeks with a 6-for-23 (26%) record.

Moquett never got anything going at Churchill after finishing seventh in the Oaklawn standings last year. Winless from the first 10 starts, Moquett compiled only a single win, finishing the spring meet with a 42-1-10-6 record.

Mason, who has finished eighth and seventh, respectively in the Oaklawn standings the last two years, was winless from seven starts during the 2019 Churchill spring meet. Norman McKnight, who finished fourth in the 2019 Oaklawn standings, also fared poorly, winning only 2-of-26 (8%) under the Twin Spires.

Trainer to watch at Churchill Downs

Chris Hartman’s barn was firing on all cylinders early in last year’s spring meet, coming out of the blocks with a 9-3-1-3 record (33% win) at Churchill Downs, and his stable returns to Louisville, Kentucky in fine form.

Granted, Hartman got off to a terrible start in Hot Springs, winning only once from the first 42 starters (2%), but he lit it up down the stretch, connecting with 6-of-25 starts (24%). In the last four days of the 2020 Oaklawn season, Hartman won with Wilbo at 7-1, Mi Bella at 11-1, and Gigging at 5.70-1 before delivering Take Charge d’Oro at 19-1 in the final race of the meet.

His horses aren’t dropping in class to win at short odds, and Hartman is among the trainers I will be following closely during the opening weeks at Churchill Downs.

Trainer Stats for the last 60 days as of May 5th.

Find the full list of weekly trainer reports at Brisnet.

TrainerStartsWinsWin %

Which Kentucky Derby and Kentucky Oaks hopefuls performed best?

The following chart represents the top performing 3-year-olds in the closing week at Oaklawn Park. Find more charts on the Speed by Circuit report here.

HorseA/SDistTrk DateBRIS Speed