12/12/2012 4:23PM

Remington: Oaklawn now the focus for leading owner Caldwell

Dustin Orona Photography
Fifth Date, claimed for for $18,000 on Aug. 25, won the $155,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup two starts later.

Danny Caldwell was searching for an “adrenaline flow” after he left his career as a high school coach to start a business with his brother. He has found the right fit in racing. Caldwell has won four of the last five Thoroughbred owner titles Remington Park in Oklahoma City, his latest on Sunday. He operates an active claiming barn, and led all owners with 21 wins. Caldwell’s stable earned $380,080.

“We had a great meet,” he said. “I’ve really got a great team working for me. We’re on our way to Oaklawn now. I claimed over there some last year, but I hadn’t focused on Oaklawn as I had Remington.”

That will change during the Oaklawn Park meet that opens on Jan. 11. Caldwell, who has 12 horses stabled in Hot Springs, Ark., with his private trainer, Federico Villafranco, said he has recently rented living quarters near the track to focus on claiming. He has been doing the same at Remington, where he turned over all but two of the original stable of 15 horses he began the meet with in August.

“I like to keep fresh horses,” he said. “I just play the claiming game the way it’s supposed to be played.”

Fifth Date was arguably Caldwell’s most successful claim during the recent meet at Remington. He took the horse for $18,000 on Aug. 25 and two starts later Fifth Date won the $155,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup. Fifth Date also won two other optional claimers for Caldwell, and is now based at Oaklawn. And while Caldwell raced at Oaklawn last year, this will be the first meet Villafranco – the brother of successful Quarter Horse trainer Luis Villafranco – will be set up at Oaklawn.

Caldwell keeps about 20 horses in training, and in addition to his Oaklawn division has four at Delta Downs in Vinton, La., with trainer Karl Broberg. Caldwell also has a farm in his hometown of Poteau, Okla., where he has a dozen broodmares and stands the Silver Deputy stallion Ellerton.

Caldwell, 47, was a teacher and coach at Panama High School in Oklahoma, but left his position to start a natural stone business with his brother. “We ship stone all over the country,” he said.

The business’s success enabled Caldwell to get into racing on a serious level, which fed his need for competition.

“That’s kind of why I got into the horses, the adrenaline flow,” he said. “These horses are like players. If you don’t have players, it’s hard to win big races. You’ve got to go out there with pretty good players.”

Other title winners during Remington were Cliff Berry, who picked up his 15th leading jockey award in Oklahoma City on Sunday, and Steve Asmussen, who has now won nine training championships at Remington.