Umberto Rispoli says goodbye to Southern California by winning Santa Anita Oaks

Jockey Umberto Rispoli looks to his right after riding Desert Dawn to victory in the Santa Anita Oaks on Saturday.
Jockey Umberto Rispoli rides Desert Dawn to victory over Adare Manor, with John Velazquez aboard, on Saturday in the Santa Anita Oaks.
(Benoit Photo via Associated Press)

Desert Dawn had just pulled a major upset by winning the Grade 2 $400,000 Santa Anita Oaks by defeating the heavily favored Adare Manor by a neck. Yet winning jockey Umberto Rispoli had a problem.

Photos were being taken and he was slotted to stand in the Winner’s Circle between two Rams players, 6-foot-6 tight end Kendall Blanton and 6-5 linebacker Justin Hollins. So, he did the only thing he could do, he jumped up and sat on the railing behind everyone so he could be on the same level as the others for the picture.

The players were at Santa Anita to accompany the Lombardi Trophy, the hardware given to the Super Bowl champion. Rispoli was there to say goodbye to the Southern California riding circuit. After Sunday, he will ride in Kentucky.


“I knew this filly was better than that last year,” Rispoli said. “I knew we needed that last race and I felt the last work was better than shown. … We started to move at the three-eighths pole and she fought every step of the way. She gave me the Santa Anita Oaks and now it is on to Kentucky.”

Desert Dawn, who paid $31.20, $7.40 and $3.20, also is headed to Kentucky as she qualified for the Kentucky Oaks, held the day before the Kentucky Derby. Adare Manor was second followed by Ain’t Easy, Under the Stars and Micro Share. Phil D’Amato was the winning trainer of the 1-1/16-mile race for 3-year-old fillies.

Rispoli also won two other races on Saturday’s seven-stakes card, one of them the Grade 2 $200,000 Royal Heroine for older fillies and mares going a mile on the turf. The race scratched to four horses and Going Global rallied on the far turn to win by 1¾ lengths. D’Amato, once again, was the winning trainer.

Tim Yakteen, taking over from trainer Bob Baffert, qualified both Taiba and Messier for the Kentucky Derby, the former winning the Santa Anita Derby in just his second start. Favorite Forbidden Kingdom faded to last place.

April 9, 2022

In other graded stakes Saturday:

  • Brooke Marie ($11.20) won the Grade 2 $200,000 Monrovia Stakes for fillies and mares going 6½ furlongs over the downhill turf course. Eddie Kenneally and Juan Hernandez teamed up for that win.
  • The Grade 3 $100,000 Providencia Stakes for 3-year-old fillies going 1-1/8 miles on the turf was won in a gate-to-wire effort by Cairo Memories ($7.80) by a commanding 4½ lengths. Bob Hess Jr. and Mike Smith were the winning trainer and jockey.

There were two ungraded stakes restricted to California breds:

  • Smuggler’s Run ($4.00) won the 6½-furlong $150,000 Echo Eddie Stakes for 3-year-olds for Richard Baltas and Joe Bravo.
  • In the biggest upset of the day, Power Surge ($155.20) won the 6½-furlong $150,000 Evening Jewel Stakes for 3-year-old fillies for Blaine Wright and Ricardo Gonzalez.