09/28/2012 2:26PM

Remington Park: Willy Beamin has best credentials in Oklahoma Derby field

Barbara D. Livingston
King's Bishop winner Willy Beamin will be seeking his seventh straight victory when he runs in the Oklahoma Derby.

When owner Jim Riccio claimed Willy Beamin for $25,000 in March, he was hoping to land a solid runner that would work in the New York-bred program. Fast forward six months, and Willy Beamin has given Riccio his first Grade 1 win in 30 years in racing.

“He was a surprise,” said Riccio. “I thought he was worth the $25,000. Never in my wildest dreams did I think he was as good as he’s gotten. He’s going so well it’s unbelievable.”

Willy Beamin will be seeking his seventh consecutive win Sunday in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. He is coming off a off a win in the Grade 1 King’s Bishop at Saratoga and will be one of the highest-profile horses to ever start in the Oklahoma Derby. Back in 1999, the race drew a Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner in Answer Lively.

A field of 10 has been entered for Sunday, including Grade 2 Tampa Derby winner Prospective, Grade 3 Sunland Derby winner Daddy Nose Best, and Diamond Joe, who will be seeking his 10th straight score as the winningest horse this year in North America. The Oklahoma Derby, at a mile and an eighth, is the richest of five stakes worth a cumulative $1 million on the card.

Willy Beamin won the King’s Bishop for trainer Richard Dutrow Jr. on Aug. 25, three days after taking the $150,000 Albany for New York-breds at Saratoga in a pattern that had proved successful for the horse in two starts in June.

“We had tried running Willy back in four days at Belmont and it worked out the right way,” Dutrow said of wins in an allowance and the $125,000 Mike Lee for New York-breds June 20 and June 24. “It worked again [at Saratoga]. Don’t ask me how or why. I certainly don’t know.”

Willy Beamin will run in the Oklahoma Derby for trainer William Cesare. Dutrow has been legally challenging a 10-year suspension from the New York Racing and Wagering Board, and in April 2011 he was denied a license in Kentucky. He said Friday that he did not apply for a license in Oklahoma this year or last, when Redeemed, a horse that ran in the name of his brother Tony Dutrow, won the Oklahoma Derby.

“They can’t act on my license unless I actually have applied, and I don’t want to take a chance” they would deny him, Richard Dutrow said. “They let us run in another trainer’s name instead.”

When nominations for the Oklahoma Derby were released Sept.  22, Cesare was listed as the trainer of record for Willy Beamin. Oklahoma Racing Commission executive director Tino Rieger on Thursday declined comment.

Edgar Prado, who last year rode Redeemed, is back in town to guide Willy Beamin from post 10.

Dutrow said Riccio decided to point for the Oklahoma Derby because after Willy Beamin runs two races close together he needs time to recover and the race fit his schedule.

“The timing was right for this race,” Riccio said. “The Pennsylvania Derby last weekend, we could have taken a shot there, but it seems like the more time he gets the better. I wish we even had two more weeks, because we had two months in between when he ran back from June into August. So, the time in between really seems to help him.”

Riccio said later this year Willy Beamin could be pointed to the Grade 3, $150,000 Discovery for 3-year-olds at Aqueduct on Nov. 17.

Diamond Joe began his win streak in a Fonner Park allowance March  24. He won outside of Nebraska for the first time in his most recent start Sept. 14, when he took a no-conditions allowance by three-quarters of a length at Remington. He was ridden by Cliff Berry, who will be aboard again Sunday when the horse breaks from the rail for the Oklahoma Derby.

“Nobody ever wants the rail, but it’s the shortest way home and, you know, Dazzling Falls had it when he won,” said Chuck Turco, who trains Diamond Joe and who won the 1995 Oklahoma Derby with the horse’s sire, Dazzling Falls.

“I’m not looking to be in front, but it’s one of those things we’ll have to see how it shakes it out. He might end up in front, he might not. He can do anything. He’s gone wire to wire and he’s come from dead last.”

Prospective is chasing his fifth stakes win of the year and can take advantage if horses like Diamond Joe, Willy Beamin, Politicallycorrect, and Speightscity make for a strong pace Sunday.

“He kinds of sits mid-pack,” said trainer Mark Casse. “The better the pace, the better for him,”

Prospective won the Grade 3 Ohio Derby over Politicallycorrect two starts ago, then last out was eighth in the Grade 2 Jim Dandy run in the slop at Saratoga.

“We kind of felt like our horse never really got on track, and I attribute it to the mud,” said Casse.

Called to Serve is the 7-2 morning-line favorite for the Oklahoma Derby off a third-place finish in the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby at Mountaineer on Aug. 4. He shipped here from Southern California on Tuesday.

“I think he’s doing as well going into this race as he was into the race at Mountaineer, if not better,” said trainer Peter Eurton.

Called to Serve was beaten a length in that race by Macho Macho, who returned to run second in the Pennsylvania Derby. The runner-up in the West Virginia Derby, Bourbon Courage, came back in his next start to win the Super Derby.

The Oklahoma Derby is being held on the lone Sunday card of the meet, with a special first post of 1:30 p.m. Central.