08/10/2016 12:26PM

Big fields for Remington's opening night

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Dustin Orona Photography
Karl Broberg won the training title at the most recent Remington Park meet.

Remington Park in Oklahoma City opens its 67-date meet Friday night with an appealing nine-race card that features two allowances, an expanded Oklahoma Derby program on the horizon, and a stable area that has drawn divisions from such leading North American trainers as Steve Asmussen and Karl Broberg.

Remington will hold nighttime racing Wednesdays through Saturdays but will put on its two biggest programs of the season on Sunday afternoons. Oklahoma Derby Day is set for Sept. 25, and Springboard Mile Day closes out the meet Dec. 11.

“We have a great anticipation for this year’s Oklahoma Derby,” said Scott Wells, president of Remington.

The Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at 1 1/8 miles is the richest of 31 stakes scheduled for the meet. Purses for those races are worth a cumulative $3.4 million, with the schedule’s highlights including the $1 million Oklahoma Classics card of eight divisional stakes Oct. 21. The Springboard Mile for 2-year-olds has been boosted in value from $250,000 to $300,000 and will anchor a card of five stakes worth a total of $600,000.

Remington has expanded the Oklahoma Derby card from seven stakes to 10, with the races worth a total of $1.3 million. The most notable addition to the card is the $175,000 Governor’s Cup, a 1 1/8-mile race for 3-year-olds and up that has traditionally been a part of opening weekend. The $200,000 Remington Park Oaks will again be on the program, as will the renamed $150,000 Remington Park Sprint Championship, which is now the David M. Vance Sprint. The remake of the meet’s richest card also includes a later post time of 3 p.m. Central and plans for an all-stakes pick four that will have a guaranteed minimum pool of $50,000.

“We’re trying to catch the attention of bettors nationwide and register with them that we’re a top-quality meet with top-quality competition at every level,” Wells said. “And the last few years, we’ve annually been among the largest field-size [tracks] in the nation, which is on display every day. We average over nine horses a race, which is above the national average.”

Remington is averaging 9.2 horses a race for Friday night’s card.

Wells said that in a new twist for the meet, Remington is installing a horse scale in the holding barn. Horses will be weighed on their way up to the saddling paddock, and the information will be made public prior to each race.

“That’s something we’ll be introducing in just a couple of weeks,” Wells said. “The information will be displayed ontrack and on-screen so simulcast customers can see it.”

Purses for the meet are projected to average $230,000 a program, and the distribution has helped Remington again draw defending champ Broberg, who is leading all North American-based trainers in wins in 2016, and Asmussen, who is scheduled to enter the National Racing Hall of Fame during a Friday ceremony in Saratoga Springs, N.Y. Other trainers with divisions at Remington include J.R. Caldwell, Bret Calhoun, Roger Engel, C.R. Trout, and Donnie Von Hemel.

Broberg will send out Boom Bam Bing in search of her sixth win since April in Friday night’s sixth race. The five-furlong turf-sprint allowance for fillies and mares has a purse of $40,000. Others set to start include the Calhoun trainees Adrianne G and Crème Brulee. The race will kick off a pick-four sequence featuring a guaranteed minimum pool of $20,000.

Among riders, C.J. McMahon, who tied with Ramon Vazquez for last year’s riding title at Remington, is back, fresh off the riding championship at Lone Star Park. Other riders making up the colony include Iram Diego, the title winner at Sam Houston, and Luis Quinonez, who guided the Von Hemel-trained Suddenbreakingnews to a stakes win last year at Remington and was aboard for the horse’s fifth-place finish in this year’s Kentucky Derby.

First post Friday is 7 p.m. Central.