Trainers, horses and fans alike are gearing up for the return of Thoroughbred racing to Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs on March 14. In its 10th year in operation, the track is celebrating with a special announcement.
Following discussions with the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is increasing purse levels during this meet by 10 percent.
The spring meet is returning to a more traditional calendar and runs through Preakness, Saturday, May 21. Races begin at 1:15 p.m. every Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday beginning March 14, and every Monday, Tuesday and Saturday beginning April 4. Each day features 10 races.
During the spring of 2015, $19.3 million was wagered on live racing at the Downs, with five days surpassing $1 million.
Stakes races begin April 4 with the third running of the $50,000 guaranteed Wilma Mankiller Memorial. The 10th running of the Clem McSpadden Memorial Route 66 with a $55,000 guarantee is the following day on April 5. April 25 and April 26 feature the eighth running of the Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic Distaff Sprint and the fourth running of the TRAO Classic Sprint.
The backside will be full this year, as 2015 leading trainer Roger Engel is back with 28 stalls. He is on a mission to retain his title for the sixth consecutive year. Engel is expected to be challenged by Boyd Caster, Scott Young, Joe Offolter and Kenneth Nolen.
More Than Even, last year’s Horse of the Meet and the 2014 Co-Horse of the Meet, is back on site to defend her title for trainer Roger Engel and owner Doyle Williams of Tulsa.
Closing out the spring meet stakes races on May 16 and May 17 are the fourth annual RPDC Classic Distaff and the fifth annual Cherokee Nation Classic Cup. Both races carry a purse of $55,000 guaranteed.
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is located three miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For more information, visit www.cherokeestarrewards.com or call 918-283-8800.