08/02/2005 11:00PM

Purses up to $100K daily with casino set to open in fall


Remington Park in Oklahoma City will open its 66-date meet Friday as a track in transition. A referendum passed last year has paved the way for Remington to offer electronic gaming, and construction has begun on a second-floor casino scheduled to open just before the meet closes on Nov. 28.

In anticipation of revenue from the 650 machines that will play like slots, purses for this year's meet have been boosted from $75,000 a day to $100,000. The result has been a surge in interest from horsemen, with a number of new barns joining the lineup of solid stables that annually set up shop at Remington.

"We've got a great list of trainers and owners and riders this year," said Scott Wells, who became general manager of Remington on March 1. "It bodes for a great season. There's a lot of enthusiasm in the community, too."

Remington is out to make Friday-night racing popular in the area. It is one of the reasons the $150,000 Oklahoma Derby has been moved to a Friday. The race, on Oct. 21, will be run at night for the first time, and it will be supported by three other stakes, including the $75,000 MEC Mile.

"We decided instead of trying to go head-to-head with college football here in this market, that we would concentrate on having some big Friday nights, try to make it a tradition," said Wells.

In other changes, Remington will race all nights, on Fridays, Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesday, and it will offer 10-cent superfectas on its races.

But the big news is the casino, a construction project Wells values in the $35 to $40 million estimates. It will include a race book and buffet, with the gaming area to encompass 76,000 square feet.

"We expect to have substantial completion done sometime in mid-October, and then there will be a training period and final finishing touches," said Wells. "We want to be sure to open well, obviously. I believe in rehearsals."

One distinctive aspect of the project is the casino's location in the grandstand. "There's a large area where the curtains open right on the finish line, and our casino patrons are going to be able to see some night racing," said Wells.

The $1.2 million stakes schedule will open Friday with the $40,000 Adena Springs, led by Queena Corrina. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel has given the mount to Don Pettinger.

At a glance:

RACING SCHEDULE: 66 nights; Friday through Nov. 28; racing every Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday, except Tuesday, Nov. 22

POST TIME: 6:30 p.m. Central.

HIGHLIGHTS: $125,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap, Sept. 5; $315,000 Oklahoma Classics Day program for Oklahoma-breds, Sept. 24; and $150,000 Oklahoma Derby, Oct. 21.

ADMISSIONS: General, $3.50

PARKING: General, free; valet, $5


LOCATION: Located at the intersection of Interstates 35 and 44 in Oklahoma City, Okla.

PHONE: (405) 424-1000

INTERNET: www.remingtonpark.com