The 20th Oklahoma Classics were contested Friday night at Remington Park. The full slate of Oklahoma-bred stakes races did not disappoint with a mix of favorites and stars winning along with a few longshots.
Fifth Date, an 8-year-old gelding who primarily has competed in sprint races his entire career, scored the top race of the evening in the $155,500 Chickasaw Nation Oklahoma Classics Cup, powered by TVG. Easily the biggest win for Fifth Date, it happened just two races after he was claimed for $18,000.
Claimed by owner Danny Caldwell of Poteau, Okla. on Aug. 25, trainer Federico Villafranco started Fifth Date in a 1 mile-70 yard event for his first race off the purchase. The stretch-out move off of sprints helped build his stamina for the 1-1/16 miles Classics Cup. The claim was made with the big race on Classics Night in mind.
“When I claimed the horse I was kind of aiming for this race,” Caldwell said. “We didn’t really know if he could get the distance so Alex and I talked about getting him to relax and he did a great job.”
Jockey Alex Birzer let Fifth Date rate in third for the first six furlongs of the race to save some run for the stretch. The tactic worked to perfection as he had plenty left to pull clear to a 2-1/2 length victory at 20-1 odds.
“Normally this horse always goes to the lead I thought it was a pretty good idea to try and get him back today,” Birzer said. “He had a good trip and sat about three or four wide. At the top of the lane we just stalked the leader and he ran a big race.”
Imahit took over the pace duties in the early backstretch of the race, leading by more than two lengths with a half-mile to go. Lucky Reward had the lead into the first turn to set the quarter-mile split :23.95 with the half-mile split in :47.30. Imahit continued up front for three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.53 before tiring in the stretch.
Fifth Date pounced on the leader with plenty in reserve, getting the mile in 1:37.08 and crossing the finish in 1:43.63 over the fast track. Imahit held second while Ted’s Folly charged from last to make third-place, 5-1/2 lengths behind the victor.
Fifth Date paid $42.20 to win, $9.60 to place and $6.40 to show. Imahit, the beaten 7-5 favorite, returned $3.40 to place and $3.20 to show. Ted’s Folly paid $4.60 to show.
The win was the 15th from 59 career starts for Fifth Date who has now won nine Remington Park races. A son of Cherokee Five from the Black Tie Affair (Ire) mare Miss Owl’s Affair, Fifth Date was bred in Oklahoma by Al Horton.
Fifth Date won $93,300 in the Classics Cup to jump his overall earnings to $431,740.
She’s All In Continues Distaff Winning Streak
Another Oklahoma Classics night… another win in the $128,900 Distaff presented by the Eastern Shawnee Tribe of Oklahoma for She’s All In. The talented 5-year-old mare who routinely wins in open company, returned to her Oklahoma stomping grounds to win the Distaff for the third consecutive year.
Owned by Robert Zoellner of Tulsa, Okla. and trained by Donnie Von Hemel, She’s All In cruised to an easy seven-length win in the Distaff under Luis Quinonez. The mare stalked the pace set by Lesley Be Judged who made the quarter-mile in :23.52 and then a half-mile in :47.84. At that point in the backstretch, Quinonez let She’s All In go and she made the race her spotlight event once again.
She’s All In had the advantage before the end of the final turn, handling six furlongs in 1:12.31, the mile in 1:37.01 and then crossing the finish in 1:41.13. Okie Blonde gained second with Lady Jensen along for third.
The heavy 1-9 wagering favorite, She’s All In paid $2.20 to win, $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show. Okie Blonde returned $4.60 to place and $3 to show. Lady Jensen paid $2.40 to show.
The Distaff is the 14th career victory for She’s All In and the ninth score at Remington Park. A mare by Include from the Hickory Ridge mare Georgia OK, She’s All In was bred in Oklahoma by her owner. The winner’s share of $77,340 now gives She’s All In $766,605, approaching the hallowed million-dollar mark now with every effort.
The Distaff win was the third in a row for She’s All In and the fourth consecutive for her owner and breeder Zoellner. His Peach Brew won the Distaff in 2009 before She’s All In took the baton.
She’s All In provided Donnie Von Hemel his Oklahoma Classics all-time leading 21st win and his fourth overall Distaff. Quinonez posted his 10th Oklahoma Classics win in the Distaff.
Supplemental Payment Worth Turf Dividends for Ridge Road
Owner and trainer Boyd Caster of Jones, Okla. thought enough of his 4-year-old colt Ridge Road to give him a chance to run in the $127,780 Oklahoma Classics Turf, presented by Choctaw Nation. The belief cost Caster and upfront payment of $11,000 to make Ridge Road eligible for the Classics competition. While he tussled with the decision, Caster eventually put his money up to back his charge.”
“I was pretty reluctant about spending the money to make this horse eligible for the Classics,” Caster recounted. “$11,000 is a lot of money on the come. The horse has been doing super, training super. We just took a shot and it paid off. I was hoping to run fourth to get my money back.
“He’s had a pretty good year with three wins, a second and a fourth. One thing about this horse, when he runs he doesn’t leave anything out there on the racetrack. He gives you a 150% and that’s all you can ask for.”
Jockey Lindey Wade put a gutty ride on Ridge Road in order to help get Caster’s investment to pay off. Moving well throughout the final turn after relaxing near the back of the pack for much of the first six furlongs of the mile race, Ridge Road had to move through a thin opening early in the stretch in order to succeed.
“Around the turn I had a lot of pony and was just letting him creep up there and was looking for somewhere to go,” Wade said. “Finally the rail opened up and when he got the courage to go through there, he was gone, they weren’t going to catch him.”
Ridge Road moved to the lead through his seam at the rail in the stretch, then drew away to win by 1-3/4 lengths over another late runner in Okietate. Lucky Moon was positioned up front throughout the Turf, settling for third, a head behind the runner-up. Ridge Road was able to reel the field in after Don’t Okie Luck set early pace fractions of :23.25 for a quarter-mile, :47.45 for the half-mile and 1:12.06 for six furlongs. He crossed the mile-finish in 1:36.74 over the firm going.
Away at 8-1 odds, Ridge Road paid $18.60 to win, $7.60 to place and $4.60 to show. Okietate returned $16 to place and $7.20 to show. Lucky Moon paid $3.60 to show. Strategic Leader, winner of the Turf for three years straight from 2008-2010, was the beaten wagering favorite at 2-1 odds while finishing sixth.
Ridge Road is a colt by Fistfite from the Time For A Change mare New Direction and was bred in Oklahoma by Laura Bufford. He won for the fifth time in 20 career starts and for the second time at Remington Park. The first-place check for the Turf of $76,668 gives Ridge Road $161,492 overall.
Miss Natalie Wears Down Flatterific for Distaff Sprint Triumph
The $113,050 Oklahoma Classics Distaff Sprint presented by Global Gaming Solutions went to Miss Natalie after she dug down to just get up by a head at the end of six furlongs.
Owned by Gar Oil Corp. of Fort Worth, Texas and trained by Joe Offolter, jockey Cliff Berry had the job of getting Miss Natalie past Flatterific to win in the stretch. A task that he wasn’t sure he would be able to accomplish until the final strides.
“The horse on the lead (Flatterific) kind of got away from me a little bit in the stretch but she was sharp. She’s usually farther back than tonight but Joe (Offolter) had her right.”
Miss Natalie sat just a length or two off the pace set by Princess Claire when she set the quarter-mile fraction of :22.30. Flatterific then took the lead in the lone turn and was able to get clear in the stretch after a half-mile in :45.22. Berry would not let Miss Natalie settle for less than the best as she made a big final move late in the stretch to get the victory in 1:09.91.
At 4-1 in the wagering, Miss Natalie paid $10.80 to win, $6 to place and $3.20 to show. Flatterific paid $6.80 to place and $4 to show. Winner To Be finished third as the beaten 2-1 favorite, paying $2.60 to show.
The Distaff Sprint win was the seventh from 25 lifetime attempts for Miss Natalie, a 5-year-old mare by Fistfite from the Slew The Slewor mare It’s The Berries. She was bred in Oklahoma by Center Hills Farm.
In winning her fourth race at Remington Park, Miss Natalie made $67,830 to run her career bankroll to $280,190. The Distaff Sprint was the third Oklahoma Classics win for Offolter and the 23rd for Berry who holds the all-time mark in the series for jockeys.
Miss Natalie also provided Berry with his second win of the night as also he won the opener on the card aboard Bar Babe ($3.80 to win). The double gives Berry a career total of 3,994 Thoroughbred wins as he bids to become just the 65th jockey in racing history to reach 4,000.
Okie Ride Repeats in Oklahoma Classics Sprint
Racing against Oklahoma-bred company for the first time this year, Okie Ride faced his own-kind in the Remington Park Oklahoma Classics Sprint presented by Kaw Nation – and won it again. Making just his third start of 2012, Okie Ride more than doubled his year-to-date earnings by winning $66,600 of the $111,100. He dashed the six furlongs in 1:09.60 over a fast track.
Trained by Kenny Nolen, the five-year-old gelded son of Candy Ride is owned by his breeder, Richter Family Trust (John and wife Kris Richter) of Perkins, Okla., and pushed his lifetime earnings to $340,662. Jockey Luis Quinonez was cleverly positioned just off the outside hip of the pace-setting Conkigo in an effort to prevent rival Stickrossmountain from getting a clear run at the leader.
At the top of the stretch Okie Ride found his best stride and steadily edged clear to draw off by 2-¾ lengths. Okie Ride, the 1-5 wagering favorite, paid $2.40 to win, $2.20 to place and $2.10 to show. Stickrossmountain easily finished second and paid $8.60 to place and $3.00 to show. Steal Your Face flew late to get up for third and paid $2.20 to show.
Okie Ride has now won eight races from 19 career attempts with six of the scores at Remington Park.
Soonerette Controls Distaff Turf
Soonerette sprang to the front in the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Turf presented by Cherokee Nation Entertainment and never looked back, to win the $112,400 grass race restricted to Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares.
The 3-5 betting favorite recently was beaten less than two lengths in the Grade 3, $175,000 Pucker Up Stakes at Arlington Park on September 15th. Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel worked the 3-year-old daughter of Master Command twice over the Remington Park turf course in order to maintain her fitness and help her become familiar with the local grass surface.
Jockey Luis Quinonez sent the speedy miss into the far turn in front by one length and maintained that measure out of the turn to finish in front by 1-¼ lengths and give Dr. Robert Zoellner one of his two Oklahoma Classics Night wins. Soonerette covered the seven and one-half furlongs over the firm turf in 1:29.41.
Zoellner’s homebred earned $67,440 to earn her fourth win of 13 lifetime races and push her lifetime earnings to $200,127. Skedee, winner of the Oklahoma Classics Distaff Turf in 2009 and 2010, made an eager and serious run at the leader but could not make any headway. It is reported that Skedee, a 7-year-old mare, was making the final start of her successful and popular racing career and will be bred in 2013.
Soonerette paid $3.20 to win, $2.40 to place and $2.20 to show. Skedee returned $3.20 to place and $2.40 to show, while 20-1 longshot Okie Nova checked in third to pay $44.40 to show.
Soonerette, from the Skywalker mare Gigi’s Skyflyer, was bred in Oklahoma and posted her first Remington Park win in the Distaff Turf.
Jump And Go Rolls In Juvenile
Jump And Go bounded from a maiden victory to a stakes victory by easily taking the $80,400 Oklahoma Classics Juvenile presented by Chickasaw Nation. Trained by the classy veteran trainer Don Von Hemel, Jump And Go gave Beverly J. Lewis, of Iola, Kansas, the biggest win of her career as an owner. Purchased at the 2011 Oklahoma Thoroughbred Yearling Sale for $10,500, the gelded son of the A.P. Indy stallion Jump Start, was bred by Young Stables and is undefeated in his two starts in Oklahoma.
Jump And Go cruised to a comfortable 3-½ length win under jockey Shane Laviolette and paid $11.20 to win, $4.60 to place and $3.60 to show. The 9-5 race-favorite Shirley Elizabeth showed the way until inside the final furlong and yielded to pay $3.40 to place and $2.80 to show. Lion Of Lone Oak was last in the early running and rallied to finish third and pay $5.20 to show.
The win was the second from just five starts for Jump And Go, both at Remington Park this season. He earned $48,240 for the victory to move his young career money to $79,995.
Motivare Breaks Maiden Status to Win Lassie
After three career starts in maiden races this season Motivare had shown some promise but had yet to finish strongly enough to move on to the ranks of winners. In the $83,100 Classics Lassie presented by Coors, Motivare discovered the strength to put rivals away, pulling clear to a 3-3/4 lengths win.
Owned by the Wichita Falls, Texas partnership of Phil Hoedebeck, Jr. and Pat Sheetz, Motivare is trained by Brent Davidson and was ridden by Glen Murphy. A 20-1 longshot in the wagering, Motivare rallied from just off the pace to take control in the final furlong before handling six furlongs in 1:12.29.
Motivare paid $42.40 to win, $13.40 to place and $9.20 to show. There was dead-heat for second between Shez Tuned Up, $5.20 to place and $7.20 to show, and Sockie Bomb who paid $2.80 to place and $3.20 to show.
A 2-year-old filly by Mr. Trieste from the Sadlers Congess (Ire) mare Pelusada (Chi), Motivare made $49,860 to move her bankroll to $68,893.