09/26/2012 4:30PM

Remington Park: Called to Serve makes trip for Oklahoma Derby

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Reed Palmer Photography
The Drifter won his stakes debut in the $75,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park.

Called to Serve will be trainer Peter Eurton’s first starter at Remington Park on Sunday when he runs in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, but the horse’s co-owner, Marc Ferrell, already knows the drill in Oklahoma City.

“He won this race in the past, a couple of years ago,” said Eurton. “The horse was Fiddlers Afleet.”

Fiddlers Afleet, who was trained by Mike Hushion, shipped in from New York to claim the 2009 Oklahoma Derby. Called to Serve, meanwhile, is based in Southern California, and he arrived in Oklahoma City on Tuesday morning. The ship was far simpler than the horse’s last start. Called to Serve had to make several connections to get to Mountaineer for the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, an Aug. 4 race in which he finished third by a length.

“His last race, he had like a 21-hour day out of San Diego to get there,” said Eurton. “It was a tough, tough trip for him, and he handled it very well. [But] it’s why we didn’t want to come back to any other spots [too quickly]. It discouraged us from going to Louisiana [for the Super Derby on Sept. 8], in only four or five weeks. I thought he needed more time.”

Called to Serve’s journey to Mountaineer included a five-hour flight to Lexington, Ky., and an extended van ride to Chester, W.Va. Conversely, his flight to Oklahoma City took 2 1/2 hours, Eurton said, followed by a 10-minute van ride to Remington.

Called to Serve, who also races for Vinka Ferrell, will be seeking his first stakes win in the Oklahoma Derby. He is expected to face at least eight others including Prospective, the Grade 3 Ohio Derby winner who arrived from Kentucky at about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to Remington’s stakes coordinator, Don Thompson. Thompson said others expected for the Oklahoma Derby are Willy Beamin, Speightscity, Politicallycorrect, Diamond Joe, Daddy Nose Best, Master Rick, and Ted’s Folly.

Eurton, who last year won a pair of Grade 1 races in Southern California with the popular filly Weemissfrankie, said Daniel Centeno has the mount on Called to Serve. Centeno rode the horse in the West Virginia Derby, when Called to Serve rallied from 11 lengths back and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92. Bourbon Courage, who edged him by a half-length for second, came back in his next start to win the Super Derby.

The Drifter heads Kip Deville

The Drifter might be tough to contain if he recaptures his best form Friday night in the $75,000 Kip Deville at Remington Park. The six-furlong race is the first leg of the track’s series for 2-year-olds that culminates with the $300,000 Springboard Mile on Dec. 9.

The Drifter showed talent in July when he won his stakes debut in the $75,000 colts and geldings division of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park. He tracked the pace and rolled home by seven lengths, covering 5 1/2 furlongs in a swift 1:03.60.

The Drifter earned a strong Beyer Speed Figure of 84, and the number, coupled with a 2-for-2 record, sent him to post as the 1-2 favorite in his last start, the $50,000 Louisiana Cup Juvenile at Louisiana Downs. But the horse found himself farther off the pace in the Aug. 18 race and ended up fourth, 4 1/2 lengths behind the winner, Palmy Bay.

“He kind of left a little tardy,” said Cody Autrey, who trains The Drifter for Charles Fletcher. “He’s had a few problems with the gate. Not in the morning, but the afternoon. In all three of his races, he’s left a little slow.”

From there, The Drifter was flat, and Autrey said after the race the horse was found to have a lung infection.

“We gave him the time off, and hopefully, he’ll run a big race,” said Autrey.

Autrey also noted the Louisiana Cup is proving to be a productive race. Palmy Bay, who won by three-quarters of a length, returned in his next start to take a $100,000 division of the Louisiana Stallion Stakes by 12 lengths, with a Beyer Figure of 83. His win came at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 22.

As for The Drifter, he will be facing seven others Friday night, including the Steve Asmussen-trained pair of Estrickator, who won his debut at Churchill Downs back in May, and Westernator, a seven-length maiden winner last out at Louisiana Downs. The Drifter will break from post 3, under regular rider Cliff Berry.