08/02/2006 12:00AM

Record purses lure new barns and riders

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The record purses that Remington Park in Oklahoma City will offer during its Thoroughbred meet, which opens Friday night, have attracted a strong assortment of horses, trainers, and jockeys.

"I would say this is probably the most anticipated meet here maybe since the first meet, but certainly the most anticipated in the last 10 years," said Donnie Von Hemel, the all-time winningest trainer at Remington.

Trainers Steve Hobby, John Locke, and Kelly Von Hemel are back at Remington this meet after lengthy absences. There is also a host of new faces here, including trainers Cody Autrey, Scott Blasi, Chris Hartman, Bruce Jackson, Michelle Lovell, Randy Morse, and Tim Padilla.

They will take on a strong group of locals, including defending training champ Bret Calhoun.

Among riders, Beverly Burress, Perry Compton, Tim Doocy, Alfredo Juarez Jr., and Casey Lambert are new to the colony. The defending riding champ is 10-time title winner Cliff Berry.

Purses have been increased across the board. Fred Hutton, racing secretary at Remington, said maiden special weight races that were worth $14,500 last year are now worth $25,000. Allowances that carried a purse of $21,000 to $22,000 last meet are now worth $33,000 to $38,000. And the purse for a bottom-level $3,500 claimer is now $7,000, up from last year's comparable purse of $3,700.

"The money's real good," said Hartman, who comes here from Lone Star and also races at Sunland Park in New Mexico. "It fits in good with what we're doing. El Paso, Lone Star, and here, they all fit like a glove. It's a good little circle. They all run for basically the same amount of money. You get that same purse structure in three spots, which is pretty good."

"Between Lone Star, Remington, and Hot Springs, that would be a good circuit for us," said trainer Jack Bruner, who is in his second year of being stabled at Remington.

Locke is returning with a stable that includes stakes winners Proven Cure and Oncearoundtwice.

"We've always liked Remington," he said. "We used to run there in the early 90's. It's a nice facility and the town's nice, so we've always liked it there. And then of course now, with their purse structure, it's a good place to be."

Material added to racing surface

Remington added more organic matter to its racing surface during the off-season, said Hutton. The new track superintendent is Bob Beam.

"We've increased the cushion, and obviously the organic material is going to be for the water retention," said Hutton.

In other improvements, Remington has new Amtote wagering terminals in place for this meet, said Wells. And some new barns are also planned.

"We're going to construct two new barns in 2007, [for] approximately 150 new stalls," said Wells.

Track sets up hall of fame

A new display honoring some of the top horses that have raced at Remington during its 17 years of operation has been set up at the track.

"We're adding an area in the racing entrance honoring champions past," said Wells. "For instance, there's a huge case over there on Clever Trevor, and one on Mr Ross and one on Silver Goblin. Owners have been kind enough to lend us artifacts. Later on this season, we're not only going to induct some horses into the hall of fame, but we're going to get fan participation in doing that."

Remington now has two distinct entrances, with the racing entrance on the south end and the casino entrance on the north end.

New drug testing in Oklahoma

There are new drug rules in Oklahoma. The most notable is the "24-hour rule" whereby horses can be treated with therapeutic medications up to 24 hours before post time. In the past, no treatment of horses, with the exception of Lasix and phenylbutazone, was allowed 48 hours before post time.

The new policy is possible because blood serum and urine samples will be used together to give a more accurate read on a horse's system when tested. This enables officials to determine if a prohibited substance or a substance that exceeds new threshold levels was given to a horse less than 24 hours before post.

* Remington will send its signal into some new markets this meet, said Hutton. The track's races will go into Colorado, as well as some locations in Europe, through an agreement between Magna, which owns Remington, and Churchill. Some races will also go to Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada.

At a glance: Remington Park

RACING SCHEDULE: 68 dates; Friday night through Nov. 28; racing every Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday.

POST TIME: 6:30 p.m. Central, except for Labor Day, Sept. 4 and Friday, Nov. 24, when first post is 2:30 p.m. There is a special noon post on Breeders' Cup Day, Nov. 4.

HIGHLIGHTS: $250,000 Oklahoma Derby and five other supporting stakes, Oct. 20; $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup, Sept. 4; $400,000 Oklahoma Classics Day program for Oklahoma-breds, Sept. 30; $75,000 Governor's Cup, Nov. 28.

ADMISSIONS: General, free

PARKING: General and valet, free

SIMULCASTING: Daily

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

PHONE: (405) 424-1000

INTERNET: www.remingtonpark.com

2006 stakes schedule

DATEEVENTCONDITIONSDISTANCEPURSE
Fri.,Aug. 4Matchmaker Turf SprintF&M, 3YO & Up5 furlongs (T)$50,000
Sat.,Aug. 5Brother Brown Stakes3YO & Up5 furlongs (T)50,000
Mon.,Aug. 7Ponca City Stakes3YO F6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Aug. 19Silver Goblin Stakes3YO & Up*6 1/2 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Aug. 26Black Mesa StakesF&M, 3YO & Up*6 furlongs50,000
Mon.,Aug. 28Red Earth Derby3YO*7 1/2 furlongs (T)50,000
Mon.,Sept. 4Edward J. DeBartolo Mem. B.C.3YO & Up1 1/8 miles (T)150,000
Mon.,Sept. 4Clever Trevor Stakes2YO6 furlongs50,000
Mon.,Sept. 4Ricks Memorial StakesF&M, 3YO & Up1 mile (T)75,000
Sat.,Sept. 9Chuck Taliaferro Mem. Stakes3YO & Up6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics Lassie2YO F*6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics Juvenile2YO, c&g*6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics Sprint3YO & Up*6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics Filly and Mare TurfF&M, 3YO & Up*7 1/2 furlongs (T)50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics Turf3YO & Up*1 mile (T)50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics DistaffF&M, 3YO & Up*1 mile 70 yards50,000
Sat.,Sept. 30OK. Classics Classic3YO & Up*1 1/16 miles100,000
Fri.,Oct. 20E.L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes2YO F6 1/2 furlongs50,000
Fri.,Oct. 20Remington Sprint Championship3YO & Up7 furlongs75,000
Fri.,Oct. 20Remington Park B.C. Oaks3YO F1 mile (T)100,000
Fri.,Oct. 20Remington Green Stakes3YO & Up1 1/16 miles (T)100,000
Fri.,Oct. 20Remington MEC Mile2YO1 mile100,000
Fri.,Oct. 20Oklahoma Derby3YO1 1/8 miles250,000
Mon.,Oct. 30Osage Hills Stakes3YO & Up*5 furlongs (T)50,000
Sat.,Nov. 4Ada StakesF&M, 3YO & Up6 furlongs50,000
Sat.,Nov. 11Lady's Secret StakesF&M, 3YO & Up1 1/16 miles75,000
Sat.,Nov. 18Cimarron Stakes2YO F7 1/2 furlongs (T)50,000
Tue.,Nov. 28Centennial Stakes2YO, c&g1 mile (T)50,000
Tue.,Nov. 28Governor's Cup3YO & Up1 1/16 miles75,000

* Oklahoma-bred