The 2012 Remington Park Thoroughbred season ended with plenty of excitement on Sunday as the $300,000 Springboard Mile led the way on the program. The richest race of the meeting for 2-year-olds was won by Texas Bling, overlooked by nearly all horseplayers at 128-1 odds, flying between rivals in the final sixteenth of a mile before winning by 1 3/4 lengths.
Owned and bred in Texas by Hall’s Family Trust of Fort Worth and trained by Danele Durham, Texas Bling was ridden by Erik McNeil, who was aboard a ton of horse for the bulk of the Springboard Mile. The colt by Texas stallion Too Much Bling had the powerful run beneath him but the challenge was getting the trip. Texas Bling was trapped for much of the race behind a wall of horses, including the final quarter-mile into the stretch.
“I was just trying to look for a place to go, there was no room,” a jubilant McNeil said from the winner’s circle. “I was on Cliff’s (jockey Cliff Berry aboard Worldventurer) heels pretty much the whole way. It was just one of those things when you pick up your head and a hole opens. He just shot through there for me and ran a huge race. Pinch me if this is real.”
While many were amazed about the longshot winner, Texas Bling’s trainer showed the utmost confidence in his talent.
“We’re not stunned. We knew this colt could do it all along,” Durham said while holding the trophy for the Springboard.
Entering the stretch, Willis Horton’s Will Take Charge led the field of 12 after setting the pace for the first three-quarters of a mile. Trained by National Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas, Will Take Charge set fractions of :23.67 for a quarter-mile, :48.81 for the half-mile and 1:14.56 for three-quarters of a mile.
Will Take Charge, a son of Unbridled’s Song out of multiple Grade 1 winner Take Charge Lady, could not hold the front-end advantage as he gave way to Worldventurer with just over a furlong left. Texas Bling was behind the new leader and tried to squeeze through between he and Best of Birdstone but had no lane. A few strides later both runners parted and began to tire, leaving an opening for Texas Bling to gun through to victory. Will Take Charge came back on for second with Worldventurer lasting for third, a half-length behind the runner-up.
Texas Bling handled the mile in 1:39.96 over a fast track. The racing was conducted in strong northerly winds throughout the day, measuring 23 miles per hour at the end of the card, which aided runners moving down the stretch but was a hindrance to them going up the backstretch.
Texas Bling rewarded his small group of backers with $259.60 to win, $122 to place and $29.80 to show. The win and place payoffs were the highest of the season in their category.
Will Take Charge paid $15.40 to place and $9.20 to show. Wesley Melcher’s Worldventurer, a Texas-bred gelding by Valor Farm stallion Wimbledon bred by Clarence Scharbaurer Jr. and the winner of the TTA Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park, returned $9.40 to show. Exploring was the beaten 8-5 wagering favorite, finishing 10th, 18 1/2 lengths behind the winner.
The exacta (8-3) paid $2,490. The trifecta (8-3-all) returned $18,827.20, a new season high. The 10-cent superfecta (8-3-7-5) paid $4,719.20.
Texas Bling is a winner of two career races from 10 lifetime starts, both scores taking place at Remington Park with his maiden win coming on the turf. A colt by Too Much Bling from the Country Pine mare Anythingmore, Texas Bling picked up $180,000 for the Springboard to catapult his career earnings to $209,483.
Texas Bling became the eighth stakes winner from the first three crops of Lane’s End Texas stallion Too Much Bling. The multiple Grade 2 winner by Rubiano has quickly turned into one of the region’s top sires and his progeny earnings are now over $1.3 million for this year.
The Springboard Mile was supported on the undercard by a pair of Oklahoma-bred stakes races and an overnight stakes for 2-year-old fillies.
The seven- furlong $50,000 Useeit Stakes for 3-year-old Oklahoma-bred fillies was won by Lady Jensen. Bred and owned by Kelly Thiesing of Alva, Okla., the filly by Bob and John from the Gate Dancer mare Heather’s Dancer had previously won the Te Ata Stakes at Remington Park in September under the same conditions and race distance.
Trained by Donnie K. Von Hemel, the gray filly won again with Luis Quinonez in the saddle. After setting back off the pace, the 3-5 wagering favorite swept wide through the far turn and reeled-in Kimbell’s Bling, another runner by Too Much Bling, to win by 4 1/2 lengths. She paid $3.40 to win, $2.60 to place and $2.10 to show. Kimbell’s Bling paid $5.40 to place and $3.40 to show. Diamond Disco ran third to pay $3.80 to show.
The winning time was 1:25.67 over a fast track.
Lady Jensen has now won four of 11 career races, with three wins at Remington Park. The $30,000 for winning the Useeit moved her overall earnings to $142,032.
Useeit, owned by Oklahoman Rosa Hoots, was the mother of Black Gold, winner of the 1924 Kentucky Derby.
Jim Thorpe Stakes
Z Rockstar gained the lead at the top of the stretch in the $50,000 Jim Thorpe Stakes and edged clear to win the seven-furlong race by a length in a time of 1:25.72.
Owned by his breeder, Dr. Robert Zoellner of Tulsa, Z Rockstar won the Oklahoma-bred restricted race for 3-year-olds under jockey Luis Quinonez. Donnie K. Von Hemel trains the gelded son of Rockport Harbor from the Nasty and Bold mare Nasty Little Star.
Z Rockstar had previously competed in three Grade 3 races for 3-year-olds in 2012. He ran sixth in the Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park, 10th in the Illinois Derby at Hawthorne near Chicago and ran third in the Ohio Derby in Cleveland.
The Jim Thorpe was the fourth lifetime win from 18 attempts for Z Rockstar who picked up $30,000 to push his total earnings to $181,710.
Z Rockstar paid $10.60 to win, $3.80 to place and $3.60 to show. Imahit was the 4-5 race favorite and finished second to pay $2.60 to place and $2.40 to show. Johnny Whip ran third and paid 4.60 to show.
Mistletoe Overnight Stakes
A $50,000 event for 2-year-old fillies at one mile preceded the Springboard Mile with Cat Five’ O roaring down the stretch to get up by a slim nose over Sister Ginger at the finish.
Owned by Lane Thoroughbreds of Council Bluffs, Iowa, and trained by Clinton Stuart, Cat Five’ O was ridden by Cliff Berry. Away at 4-1 odds, Cat Five’ O paid $10.40 to win, $5 to place and $4 to show. Sister Ginger just missed in the win photo and returned $7.20 to place and $4.20 to show. Shenandoah Lady was 2 1/2 lengths behind the top pair in third, paying $5.40 to show.
Cat Five’ O won her third race from six attempts, two of them at Remington Park this season. The $30,000 winner’s check for the Mistletoe overnight stakes now gives her $88,006 overall. Cat Five’ O is an Iowa-bred by Pleasantly Perfect from the Elusive Quality mare Triple o’ Five.
The 2012 Remington Park Thoroughbred season came to a close on Sunday with the leading horsemen in the categories of jockey, trainer and owner the same as they’ve been for a number of years.
Cliff Berry – 15th Remington Park Jockey Title
Jockey Cliff Berry secured his 15th Pat Steinberg Award during Sunday’s Springboard Mile card. The Jones, Okla. resident won two races on the final program of the season to end with 72 wins.
Berry has won three consecutive Steinberg Awards, denoting the leading rider for the Thoroughbred Season. The honor is named after the late rider who dominated the early years of Remington Park racing before his passing in 1993.
Luis Quinonez was second with 67 wins while Lindey Wade was third with 51 victories.
While Berry won the battle for wins, Quinonez led the way in mount earnings with $1,776,044. His biggest win of the season came aboard Alternation in the $200,000 Governor’s Cup on the meet’s Opening Weekend in August.
Berry was second in earnings with $1,603,044 with Wade third at $1,360,988 and Alex Birzer fourth garnering $1,230,968.
Steve Asmussen – 9th Remington Park Training Title
Trainer Steve Asmussen clinched his ninth Chuck Taliaferro Award as leading trainer at Remington Park, days before the final afternoon of racing had taken place. He ended the season with 47 wins.
Asmussen, from Arlington, Texas, has now won six consecutive training titles at Remington Park dating to the 2007 season. He won his very first seasonal training title at Remington Park in 1991. Asmussen’s career has flourished since, becoming a national operation with horses competing simultaneously at many tracks across North America. This fall he was inducted into the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Remington Park.
Donnie Von Hemel was second in the trainer standings with 27 wins with Chris Hartman third at 26.
The Chuck Taliaferro Award is named in honor of one of the early training stars in Remington Park history who had a long and successful career nationally before returning to his home state of Oklahoma once Remington Park opened. Taliaferro sat atop the local trainer standings twice before passing in 1994.
Asmussen led all trainers with $1,064,400 in earnings and was the only trainer to top the million-mark. Von Hemel was next with $938,106 while Hartman was third with $591,737.
Danny Caldwell – 4th Remington Park Leading Owner Title
The Ran Ricks Jr. Award for leading owner went to Danny Caldwell of Poteau, Okla. who visited the winner’s circle 21 times. This is his third consecutive leading owner title and his fourth since 2008.
Caldwell runs an operation that is strong in the claiming department, often purchasing runners out of races then immediately moving them up in class while gaining victory. He claimed Fifth Date, an 8-year-old Oklahoma-bred for $18,000 on Aug. 25, then won the $156,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup just two starts later with the gelding.
Caldwell’s horses are primarily trained at Remington Park by Federico Villafranco. He won his first Thoroughbred owner title in 2008 and picked up two more in 2010 and 2011.
Black Hawk Stable of Elk City, Okla. was second in the owner standings with 13 wins while the Richter Family Trust of Perkins, Okla. and Clark Brewster of Tulsa, Okla. shared third-place with 11.
The Richter Family Trust led the way for earning by owners with $511,790. Among their many winners was Okie Ride, a force in the local sprint division.
Caldwell was second in earnings with $380,080 while Black Hawk Stable was third with $361,642.
Live racing at Remington Park now goes on hiatus until March 8, 2013 when the American Quarter Horse & Mixed-breed Season begins. The 2013 Thoroughbred Season will get underway on August 16.