It basically came down to a victory by a neck in his first ever stakes on the grass – the $70,000 Remington Park Turf Sprint – but that win among four victories boosted Welder to his unprecedented third Horse of the Meeting Championship.
Welder also won the $130,000 Oklahoma Classics Sprint, the $70,000 Silver Goblin Stakes and an allowance race that was so chock-full of stakes winners that it proved to be easily the best non-stakes race of the season. In that race, Welder had to face Share the Upside, who earlier in the year, defeated Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore in the King Cotton Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. However, had Welder lost to Shannon C, instead of finishing in front of him by a neck in that turf stakes, it might have been a different story. Twice it seemed Welder was beaten down the stretch of that race. The finish had both owner Clayton Rash (Ra-Max Farms) and trainer Teri Luneack of Claremore, Okla., claiming simultaneous heart attacks.
“I’ve watched the replay of the turf sprint many, many times,” Luneack said. “How he got up in the final two jumps is beyond me. Shannon C is so deadly fast at five furlongs and runs so well on the turf. I’m honestly not sure I made the right decision by running him on the grass. The David Vance (Stakes, the same weekend) being six furlongs on the dirt would have fit him perfectly. But with the purse structure the way it was this year, different choices were made. Luckily, Welder once again showed his greatness and got up for the win.”
He did win, and Luneack was thrilled by the idea of being voted Horse of the Meeting a third time, something no other horse has ever done twice in the 32-year history of Remington Park.
“It’s very surreal to me when I take a moment and think about all that Welder has accomplished,” said Luneack. “If anyone would have told me it was possible, I’d have told them they were crazy.”
What makes Luneack’s success with Welder, with leading rider David Cabrera up, is that she only started training racehorses in 2014. Luneack trained horses for show competition, including some champions, prior to moving to racing. This meet, with trainers that started at least 20 times at Remington, she was the top conditioner in win percentage (33 percent) and in-the-money percentage (67 percent).
“It’s definitely been a crazy ride, training racehorses,” she said. “I never would have imagined this is what I would have ended up doing in life. But now I can’t see myself doing anything else. Show horses were rewarding, but nothing compares to that feeling you get when your horse is running down the stretch giving you all it’s got – what a rush!”
Welder, a 7-year-old gelded son of The Visualiser, out of the Tiznow mare Dance Softly, swept all four categories he was in as Champion – Horse of the Meeting, Older Male, Sprinter and Oklahoma-bred – as he has all three years during his title run.
During the season, Welder also tied the record for all-time Remington Park wins with his 15th victory here and extended his record of consecutive stakes wins to 11. Welder, the six-furlong record holder at Remington Park, also had the fastest time for the season at 6-1/2 furlongs, winning the Silver Goblin Stakes in a time of 1:15.49. His time of :55.53 at five furlongs on the turf in the Remington Park Turf Sprint was the second-fastest of the meet, despite his never having competed over turf in his career.
The three stakes wins for Welder were restricted to Oklahoma-breds.
Here are the rest of the divisional champions for the 2020 Remington Park Thoroughbred Season, determined by a vote of media covering the season, along with track and industry professionals.
Senor Buscador – Champion 2-Year-Old Male
The Remington Park Turf Sprint was arguably one of the top two most exciting races of the season, with the other coming from this 2-year-old in winning the $200,000 Springboard Mile, improving to 2-for-2 lifetime. Jockey Luis Quinonez had to rally from 17 lengths behind down the backstretch, then not only win with Senor Buscador, but he blew past the entire field to finish 5-3/4 lengths ahead at the wire. All Quinonez could say after it was over was, “Oh my God, what a horse I have.’” It will be fun to watch how this horse performs as a 3-year-old for owner Joe Peacock, Jr., of San Antonio, and New Mexico-based trainer Todd Fincher.
Oliviaofthedesert – Champion 2-Year-Old Female
This young filly made trainer Ken McPeek a winner in the Trapeze Stakes, Remington Park’s top race for 2-year-old fillies. Three-time consecutive title-winning jockey David Cabrera rode Oliviaofthedesert for the first time, gaining his first career score in the Trapeze Stakes. He was named Jockey of the Week by the Jockey’s Guild for the final week of racing at Remington. It was evident that Oliviaofthedesert had some talent when she ran third to Coach in the overnight Rags to Riches Stakes at Churchill Downs in October, and she proved that winning the $60,000 Trapeze.
Shared Sense – Champion 3-Year-Old Male
Into August, Godolphin’s Racing operation and trainer Brad Cox had considered running this colt in the Kentucky Derby. When they opted out, the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby was chosen and he came through. The colt gave Cox his second Oklahoma Derby win in a row (Owendale – 2019) when jockey Richard Eramia pushed him to a 2-1/2 length victory.
Envoutante – Champion 3-Year-Old Female
McPeek shipped Envoutante for the Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks straight from two Grade 1 stakes attempts, the Ashland at Keeneland and the Alabama at Saratoga. She showed her class by easily winning the $100,000 Remington Park Oaks. The win was McPeek’s second in the Oaks (Montana Native, 2013). Cabrera was in the saddle for the 3-1/4 length victory.
Caliente Candy – Champion Older Female
This 4-year-old daughter of Sidney’s Candy, out of the Salt Lake mare Nicks, gave trainer Danny Pish back-to-back wins on Oklahoma Derby Day after he had saddled Huntsinger to a win in the Kip Deville Stakes the race before the Flashy Lady Stakes. Caliente Candy, owned by Laurence Jones and Evans Thoroughbred Racing of Hot Springs, Ark., improved her record for the meet to two wins in three tries with one third. Quinonez was in the saddle for the Flashy Lady.
Quality Rocket – Champion Turf Performer
Quality Rocket created a buzz winning two turf stakes races at Remington Park – the Red Earth Stakes and the Oklahoma Classics Turf, both for Oklahoma-breds. The 6-year-old gelded son of Backstabber, out of the King of Scat mare Lady Cambridge, was ridden by Garrett Steinberg for trainer Boyd Caster. The horse is owned by M. Gerald Ball of Shawnee, Okla.
Crazy Legs Hirsch – Champion Claimer
This late-running 3-year-old hard-knocking gelding stole the hearts of Remington Park fans, coming from as much as 20 lengths behind to win races. He ran six times during the meet, winning three and running second in the other three. Crazy Legs Hirsch, a son of Mucho Macho Man, out of the Peace Rules mare Western Peace, did not win a race until his seventh career start, but once he got the hang of it, he was all about winning. Jockey Danny Sorenson rode for Pish and owner GFB Racing of Argyle, Texas.
(from Remington Park news release)