Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs recently completed the track’s seventh annual spring Thoroughbred meet, and the results indicate another victorious effort in total wagering.
For the second consecutive year, Will Rogers Downs surpassed the $20-million mark in total handle. This year, a record $22.3 million was wagered, which is an increase of $1.75 million over the 2012 spring meet.
While 2013’s meet fell short of the record number of $1-million days, with six this year compared to seven last year, Will Rogers Downs had a year-over-year increase in all but a handful of daily totals during the 32-day meet that ran from March 4 to May 18.
“This year we shifted our race days from Saturday, Monday and Tuesday to Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday, which proved to be a success,” said Jesse Ullery, racing secretary for Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. “Our races are broadcast worldwide, and the move from Saturday got us away from a lot of competition and increased our overall simulcast coverage, resulting in the boost in wagering.”
Ullery also credits the quality of horses and competition that raced on the Claremore track this spring as another reason the numbers continue to climb each year.
Even with tougher fields, jockey Curtis Kimes proved to be the best for the fifth consecutive year, winning 48 of the 220 races he started and finishing in the money 57 percent of the time. Bryan McNeil finished second with 44 wins in 157 starts, finishing in the money 59 percent of the time.
Roger F. Engel finished atop the trainer standings for the second consecutive year. His horses won 31 of 89 races and finished in the money 64 percent of the time. Boyd Caster was a formidable challenger, winning 21 of 97 races and finishing in the money 61 percent.
The horse of the meet was Private Bounty, which is owned by Southern Okie Boys LLC. The 6-year-old son of Grand Rewards won three times and finished second once during the meet. Southern Okie Boys finished atop the owner standings with 13 wins and nine second-place finishes in 30 starts.