William and Corinne Heiligbrodt's Mitole did not disappoint as the heavy 2-5 favorite in Thursday's $150,000 Bachelor Stakes, drawing off impressively to give leading rider Ricardo Santana Jr. his 1,001st career victory. Earlier on the card, Santana reached the 1,000-win milestone aboard Gary and Mary West's Westfest, who like Mitole is trained by Hall of Famer Steve Asmussen. Overall, he ended the day with four wins and 1,002 career victories.
“I am feeling really blessed to win my 1,000th race,” Santana said. “This is my dream coming true and it wouldn't have happened without Steve Asmussen. He has supported me and given me a great opportunity. I also have to thank God for my 1,000th race.”
Santana, born Nov. 19, 1992, hails from Panama and is the son of a jockey. He came to the United States at the age of 16 in 2009, settling in first at Delaware Park. He won his first riding title at Delaware Park in 2012 and has been Oaklawn Park's leading jockey annually since 2013. With 64 wins from 286 mounts at Oaklawn Park this year, he is well clear of his closest pursuer, David Cabrera, who has 43 wins. Santana's first Grade 1 victory came aboard Creator in the 2016 Arkansas Derby. He is coming off his best year in 2017, ranking 16th nationally with mount earnings of $8,923,191.
Ricardo Santana Jr. and fellow riders celebrate his 1,000th win (Coady photography photos)
Santana is represented by agent Ruben Munoz.
Using the rail post to his advantage, Mitole broke on top in the Bachelor and he and Santana never looked back, setting early fractions of :21.32 and :44.22 for the first half mile. Once he hit the stretch, Mitole hit another gear and drew away from this competition to win by seven lengths in 1:08.41, the fastest six furlong time of the meet. Mr. Jagermeister was second and Supreme Aura was third.
“I thought Ricardo (Santana) did a great job with him away from the gates,” Asmussen said. “I think that he handled everything really well after that. Just very fortunate to have an extremely fast horse for the Heiligbrodts (William and Corinne). He has run three tremendous (winning) races here – four starts with his second in the Gazebo being one as well. But, he has obviously run very fast times and saved his best for today.”
Mitole, a 3-year-old Eskendereya colt, improved his record to 6-3-2-1 and has now earned $228,710. He returned $2.80, $2.20 and $2.10.