Oklahoma Derby Day Stakes Taking Shape

oklahoma-derby-landingThe Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby leads a stakes-filled program of racing at Remington Park on Sunday, Sept. 25. The fields for the 10 stakes races are beginning to come together for the biggest Thoroughbred program in Oklahoma racing.

The overall purses for the 12-race Oklahoma Derby Day card on Sept. 25 will exceed $1.4 million. The Primetime Pick 4, over the last four races on the program, will carry a guaranteed wagering pool of $50,000. The first race on Oklahoma Derby Day is at 3pm-Central.

The Remington Park racing office will take entries for Oklahoma Derby Day on Thursday morning. Until then, here is a brief look at three of the major stakes races and possible contestants.

Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby
Oklahoma’s only graded Thoroughbred event, the 28th-running of the 1-1/8 miles derby is expected to once again have a field of at least 10, and is limited to 14 overall.

Texas Chrome, winner of the Grade 3 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs, will bid for his second straight derby score. Owned by Keene Thoroughbreds of Greenville, Texas, trainer J.R. Caldwell has had Texas Chrome in training at Remington Park since July. He will continue to gallop during morning training leading up to the Oklahoma Derby.

The colt by Grasshopper has won seven of his 12 career starts, finishing worse than third only once. The Texas-bred has career earnings of $602,462.

Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen has Gettysburg and Madtap under consideration for the Oklahoma Derby, one of the few derbies in North America that have eluded his successful career. Gettysburg was most recently sixth in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx in Philadelphia on Sept. 5. He was eighth in the Grade 1 Belmont Stakes on June 11 and was fifth in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby at Oaklawn Park in April.

Madtap has made his last four attempts over turf, including his fourth-place effort in the Dueling Grounds Derby at Kentucky Downs on Sept. 11.

Discreetness, winner of the 2015 Springboard Mile at Remington Park, continues to work at Churchill Downs in Louisville, prior to a return visit to Oklahoma City. He won the Smarty Jones Stakes in January at Oaklawn in the next start following his Springboard triumph. Discreetness has all fees paid to the Oklahoma Derby by virtue of his win in Remington Park’s top 2-year-old stakes race a year ago.

Trained by William “Jinx” Fires, Discreetness worked five furlongs, breezing from the gate at Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky. on Sunday in 1:03 4/5. The Oklahoma Derby would be the first start for Discreetness since a ninth-place run in the Grade 3 Pat Day Mile on the Kentucky Derby undercard on May 7.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel will attempt to win his all-time leading fourth Oklahoma Derby with Secret Passage. A promising 2-year-old at Remington Park last fall, Secret Passage was fourth in the Prelude Stakes at Louisiana Downs in Bossier City, La. on Aug. 6. The Prelude was his first race of 2016.

Owned by Pin Oak Stable of Versailles, Ky., Secret Passage breezed five furlongs in 1:00.47 over a fast track at Remington Park on Monday morning. Von Hemel was happy with the effort and has the Curlin colt aimed at Sunday.

Von Hemel has previously won the Oklahoma Derby with Clever Trevor (1989), Queen’s Gray Bee (1991) and Going Ballistic (2007).

Tuesday morning, “Tex” Sutton Forwarding Company’s “Air Horse One” made a stop at Will Rogers World Airport in Oklahoma City. A total of six horses made their way to Remington Park for Sunday competition, including four aimed at the Oklahoma Derby. The flight originated in New York City and made a stop in Kentucky to pick up passengers before arriving in Oklahoma City.

Fish Trappe Road, winner of the Grade 1 Dwyer Stakes at Belmont Park in Elmont, N.Y. in July arrived in Oklahoma City after a summer at Saratoga in upstate New York. Trained by Bret Calhoun, Fish Trappe Road was sixth in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop on Aug. 27 at Saratoga. Overall, the New York-bred colt has three wins from 10 attempts with earnings of $528,185.

Ready Dancer stepped off the Boeing 727 in search of his third career victory. Trained by Hall of Famer Todd Pletcher, Ready Dancer was fourth in the $100,000 Curlin Stakes at Saratoga in late July.

Seeking Blame hopped the plane in Kentucky for trainer Dallas Stewart. The colt by Blame was fifth in the Grade 2 Indiana Derby in mid-July. He is seeking just his second career victory and breezed five furlongs on Saturday at Churchill Downs in 1:01 2/5.

Sticksstatelydude, a Virginia-bred colt trained by Greg Burchell, also arrived via flight this morning. A winner of two career races, Sticksstatelydude breezed four-furlongs at Churchill Downs on Saturday morning in :49 4/5. He was most recently fourth in the Smarty Jones at Parx on Sept. 5.

$200,000 Remington Park Oaks
The 3-year-old fillies have their spot on the undercard of the Oklahoma Derby, at 1-1/16 miles on the main track. Always On My Mind and Unbridled Mo rounded out the group of six on the Sutton charter Tuesday morning, arriving to prepare for Remington Park’s top female Thoroughbred race. Both are trained by Todd Pletcher.

Unbridled Mo is seeking to run her winning streak to four in a row. She won the Grade 3, Monmouth Oaks on Aug. 20 by a neck. All three of her career races are part of her current streak with all of them taking place at Monmouth Park in New Jersey. She breezed four furlongs on Saturday morning at Belmont Park in :49 seconds.

Always On My Mind will attempt to make the Remington Park Oaks her second straight win. She also won on Aug. 20 at Monmouth Park in an allowance/optional claiming race, drawing clear by eight lengths. A daughter by Congrats, Always On My Mind breezed four furlongs at Belmont Park on Saturday morning in :48 3/5.

$175,000 Governor’s Cup
Contested for the first time on Oklahoma Derby Day, many of the region’s top older runners are set to battle over 1-1/8 miles. Smack Smack will attempt to win his second straight Governor’s Cup and his third straight race overall.

Owned by Toby Keith’s Dream Walkin Farm of Norman, Okla. and trained by Don Von Hemel, Smack Smack won the Clever Trevor Stakes at Remington Park as a 2-year-old before returning to score at age four in the Governor’s Cup last year. Now a 5-year-old, the gelding with versatile running-style ability has put together wins in the Grade 3 Cornhusker Handicap at Prairie Meadows in Altoona, Iowa in July, followed by a win in the Downs at Albuquerque Handicap in August.

Battle-tested, the Governor’s Cup will be the 10th start of 2016 for Smack Smack. He has won 10 of 28 career races and boasts earnings of $851,430.

The other stakes races on the Oklahoma Derby Day program include:
– $150,000 The David M. Vance Stakes (formerly the Remington Sprint Cup), six furlongs
– $100,000 Remington Green Stakes, 1-1/8 miles (turf)
– $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes, 2-year-olds, six furlongs
– $75,000 Ricks Memorial Stakes, older fillies and mares, 1-1/16 miles (turf)
– $50,000 Flashy Lady Stakes, older fillies and mares, six furlongs
– $50,000 Bob Barry Memorial Stakes, older fillies and mares, 7-1/2 furlongs (turf)
– $50,000 Red Earth Stakes, 7-1/2 furlongs (turf)

The Bob Barry Memorial and the Red Earth Stakes are restricted to Oklahoma-breds.