09/24/2008 11:00PM

Notable Okie seeks fourth consecutive Turf win


Outside of Breeders' Cup Mile winner Kip Deville, there may be no Oklahoma-bred turfer more popular than Notable Okie. He will be making his seventh appearance on the annual Oklahoma Classics Day program at Remington Park on Saturday night, when he starts in the $65,000 Turf.

Notable Okie is seeking his fourth straight win in the one-mile race and his fifth Classics Day win overall. He will be one of the focal points on a card of eight Oklahoma-bred stakes worth a record $535,000.

Notable Okie made his first Classics appearance in 2002, winning the Juvenile. He then ran second in the Sprint in 2003, fourth in the Classic in 2004, and won the Turf in 2005, 2006, and 2007.

"We've just run kind of abbreviated campaigns with him the last three years," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Notable Okie for breeder Richter Family Trust. "But he still loves to run, and that time is going to make him last longer, that time off every winter and spring."

Notable Okie, an 8-year-old gelding who has earned $311,321, comes into this year's Turf off an eighth-place finish in the $50,000 Red Earth at Remington on Aug. 31. It was an uncharacteristic finish for him, but it was his first out since November 2007, and he has since turned in two strong works at Remington.

"I'm a little disappointed in his first race back, but we're going to say we needed that one, although we didn't feel that way going in," said Von Hemel. "I think he'll be tough."

Don Pettinger, who has been aboard Notable Okie for all of his Classics wins, has the mount again in the Turf. With a fifth victory in the series Saturday night, Notable Okie would tie a Classics record held by Highland Ice.

To do so he will have to reel in Daring Child, a wire-to-wire threat off a five-furlong turf sprint allowance win at Remington. Another chief contender is Strategic Leader, the winner of the Red Earth.

Marq French routes in Classic

Marq French, a past winner of the Classics Sprint, will make a rare appearance around two turns in the $100,000 Classic. The 1 1/16-mile race is on the main track, and in his lone start at that distance on the main track Marq French won a $65,000 claiming race at Oaklawn Park in March 2007.

He earned an 84 Beyer Speed Figure, which puts him on par with top contender Oklahoma Tradition, who ran third in an optional claiming route with a Beyer of 82 in his last start. The runner-up from that race, Acting Zippy, returned to win an optional claiming route with a 96 Beyer.

Dean Butler has the mount on Oklahoma Tradition for trainer Roger Engel, while Cliff Berry will ride Marq French for Von Hemel.

* Burbance moves back to the statebred ranks for the $65,000 Filly and Mare Turf off a nice allowance win in open company at Remington.

* Fifth Date was a clear winner of the allowance prep for the $65,000 Sprint, earning a career-best Beyer Figure of 86.

* Yo Joe brings the best Beyer, a 61, into the $55,000 Juvenile, where he meets the promising Hollywood Hit.

* A competitive $55,000 Lassie features the talented 2-year-old fillies Peach Brew and Spontaneous Diva.

* Starry Pie has seen tougher rivals than she faces in the $65,000 Filly and Mare Sprint.

* Midsummer Magic leads the $65,000 Distaff.

* Oklahoma Classics Day will be televised from 8-10 p.m. on KOCB-Channel 34 in Oklahoma City, and on the Cox Channel in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa.