08/09/2001 12:00AM

New entry box aims to improve integrity


Entries for the Grade 3, $300,000 Oklahoma Derby were taken Thursday using a new system developed by officials at Magna Entertainment, parent company of Remington Park in Oklahoma City. The Oklahoma Derby, formerly known as the Remington Park Derby, will be run Sunday.

The 1 1/8-mile race drew a field of six, and from the rail the entrants are: Unbridled Time, to be ridden by Greta Kuntzweiler; Devout Sinner, Cliff Berry; Rockchalk Jayhawk, Don Pettin-ger; Buckets, Jon Court; Top Hit, Garrett Gomez; and Compendium, Donnie Meche.

Remington Park is the first Magna track to take entries using the new system. Entries must be made by telephone or sealed envelope only, and close promptly at 11 a.m. Central. Before closing, no updates on how races are filling, or which races may or may not go, are given, a move designed to improve the integrity of how a program is drawn up.

"Some believe that when you utilize rundowns, people can manipulate the entry box," said Remington Park racing secretary Fred Hutton. "This system is totally democratic; totally integrity-driven. No entries can be held back, you've got to come up with whatever you've got. It's totally democratic on both sides of the counter."

Hutton said the racing office won't even know the status of races until after 11 a.m. because the office computers will be locked down. "It puts a little more pressure on the racing secretary," Hutton said. "I have to be in front of my races. I have to be real careful on how I spot them."

Magna officials chose to debut the new system at Remington Park because the track's average field size is larger than any other of the tracks it owns, which include Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita. Last year during the fall Thoroughbred meet at Remington, the average field size was 9.4 horses.

Hutton said entries went well for Saturday and Sunday. The average field size for Saturday night's opener is 10.2 starters, and for Sunday, 9.5. If successful, the new entry system could be incorporated at other tracks owned by Magna.

Top Hit first Derby starter for Owens

Trainer Kory Owens, who was based at Remington Park in Oklahoma City before moving his operation to California two years ago, will have his first Oklahoma Derby starter Sunday. Top Hit, who in his last start finished fourth to Congaree in the Grade 1, $500,000 Swaps, is the probable favorite for the race. The colt, who was to be flown to Oklahoma City on Saturday morning, will be ridden by Garrett Gomez.

"I was at Remington for 10 years and never ran in the Remington Park Derby," Owens said. "I'm really looking forward to it."

Owens said a good performance from Top Hit could send him next to the Grade 2, $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on Sept. 29. "We're basically trying to dodge a few of the heavy heads and make some money with him," the trainer said.