08/14/2013 4:28PM

Remington Park: Plenty of positives as meet begins


Remington Park in Oklahoma City begins its 25th anniversary season Friday night with much on the horizon. Alternation and Prayer for Relief will be in action Saturday in the $175,000 Governor’s Cup, the Oklahoma Derby has been reinstated to Grade 3 status for its Sept. 29 renewal, and a $100,000 race for 2-year-old fillies has been created to share the card with the closing-day $250,000 Springboard Mile for 2-year-olds on Dec. 15.

Remington also has rolled out a new integrity policy, adjusted its post times, and welcomed a handful of new jockeys and stables.

Alternation and Prayer for Relief got Remington’s meet off to a rousing start a year ago, when they finished a nose apart in the Governor’s Cup. This year, Saturday night’s rematch heralds the start of a 32-race, $3.4 million stakes schedule. The $400,000 Oklahoma Derby is the richest race on offer, and for the first time since 2004 the 1 1/8-mile stakes will be run as a graded race. The Oklahoma Derby will again share a program with the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks, the $150,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup, and the $100,000 Remington Green on a special Sunday card that begins at 1:30  p.m. Central.

The meet’s other Sunday card is Dec. 15, and it includes the Springboard and the new Trapeze, a one-mile race for 2-year-old fillies.

“The Trapeze gives 2-year-old fillies a chance to go long,” said Mike Shamburg, racing secretary at Remington. “We didn’t have anything on the schedule for them, and the horsemen and Remington thought it would be a good race to offer. The Springboard is the same day and a lot of trainers not only have a 2-year-old colt they want to run a mile, they have a 2-year-old filly, too. This gives them a new option.”

Also new for the meet is a policy that calls for Remington’s staff to “not knowingly accept,” entries from horsemen on suspended lists for Class 1 or Class 2 drug violations. The policy extends to unresolved positives, whether uncontested or not yet adjudicated but confirmed in a split sample. In addition, the track will not allow participation by any horseman on a suspension list from the American Quarter Horse Association or Jockey Club in a policy announced in January. Remington also is instituting pre-race veterinary exams, and Clenbuterol threshold levels have been lowered by the Oklahoma Racing Commission.

Post time will be 7 p.m. Central for most cards, a half-hour later than last year.

Purses are projected to average $225,000 a program, Shamburg said. Remington’s list of newcomers includes trainers Tim Martin and Joseph Smith, as well as jockeys Terry Thompson, Ramon Vazquez, and Fabio Arguello. Luis Quinonez, sidelined by injury in April, is back Friday.

Shamburg said he had requests for 3,000 stalls. The track has 1,400.

“Our barn area is full, plus we get a lot of ship-ins because there are a number of training centers around here,” he said. “It’s good for the program. We’re really in the middle of a pinwheel. With the closing of Iowa, Canterbury, Colorado, horsemen come this way. It’s a good place to race, and we have good purses. They want to come this way.”

There were 91 horses entered in nine races for Remington’s opener, for an average of 10.4 runners per race. The feature is a five-furlong turf sprint allowance that drew Humble Smarty, a two-time stakes winner this year at the age of 9.