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Remington purses luring some outfits back
Trainer Steve Hobby has not had a division of horses at Remington Park in Oklahoma City in at least five years, but that will change next month when he sends 20 horses to town for a revived meet that opens on Aug. 4.
Remington opened a slots casino last fall, and the success of its 650 electronic, bingo-based machines will help the track open with purses of $185,000 a day. Last year, purses averaged about $100,000 a day.
Hobby is one of Remington's all-time winningest trainers, and through the years has won local stakes with such horses as Brush With Pride and Belle of Cozzene. He said the sharp purse increase coupled with the makeup of his stable's owners led to a return to Remington.
"I've got a lot of clients that live in Oklahoma and Arkansas," he said.
Hobby will also maintain a division at Arlington Park in Illinois.
Other new faces expected for the meet are Cody Autrey, Chris Hartman, and John Locke. In all, Remington received 3,000 stall requests for its 1,300 stalls. The 68-date season will run through Nov. 28.
* The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association will hold its annual banquet and auction at Remington on July 29. Tickets are available through the OTA.
Chris Lincoln, a racing personality, will be the master of ceremonies at the banquet, which will recognize last year's leading Oklahoma-bred runners. The guest speaker is Gary West, the racing columnist for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.
The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders annual summer mixed sale is scheduled for Aug. 6 at the Blackham Coliseum in Lafayette. A total of 201 weanlings, yearlings, 2-year-olds, horses of racing age, and breeding stock are slated to pass through the sales ring.
Judice Farms and Kraft Farm lead the yearling consignors with nine each, closely followed by McFadden Farm with eight. The auction begins at 10 a.m.
- Jeff Taylor
The battle for leading jockey may come down to the wire. Yuri Yaranga and R.D. Williams are head and head in the standings with the meet set to conclude its 37-day session on Sunday.
Yaranga enters the weekend with a 57-54 edge over Williams, the two-time defending champion at this meet. Dennis Collins has slipped into striking position with 47 winners but will need a super weekend to cut that margin.
* The purse of Sunday's closing-day feature, the $25,000-added Capitol City Futurity, will be the largest for a 2-year-old race in this state since the close of Ak-Sar-Ben in 1995. The six-furlong race drew 31 nominations, plus four supplements at a cost of $200 each.
* Last Sunday was fan appreciation day and more than 2,500 patrons attended, the second-largest crowd of the meet. Ron McCloskey of Lincoln took home the day's top giveaway, a 2006 Chevy Avero LS 4-Door. Names were drawn throughout the day and assigned to the 10 horses running in the last race. Nick Wood, also of Lincoln, won the second prize, a 2006 Yamaha Vino Scooter.
* Racing shifts to Omaha's Horsemen's Park for the track's annual four-day festival-style meet on Thursday. Post time will be 6 p.m. Central for Thursday and Friday's four-race cards. Saturday and Sunday will feature five races daily with a first post of 2 p.m.
A Nebraska-bred stakes will be run each of the four days. Saturday and Sunday will also feature open-company stakes.
The $40,000 Queens Handicap at one mile on Saturday drew 29 nominations, including Iowa Distaff Breeders' Cup winner No Sleep, who races for the nation's leading owner in races won, Maggi Moss. In the $100,000 Omaha Stakes at a mile on Sunday, Iowa Sprint Stakes winner Coach Jimi Lee heads a list of 53 nominations.
- Bill Hodtwalker
When Spring Tribute captured a 1 1/4-mile starter allowance last Sunday by 11 lengths, the biggest story wasn't so much that none of his rivals was a threat, but that his winning time of 2:08 was nowhere close to a track record that is about to begin its ninth decade in existence.
July 24 will mark the 80th anniversary of Crusader's win in the 1926 Cincinnati Derby at River Downs, a race in which he covered 1 1/4 miles in 2:02, a record that has remarkably stood the test of time. Crusader, the leading 3-year-old of that year, also captured the Suburban, Belmont, Dwyer, and Jockey Club Gold Cup that season.
While few Thoroughbreds of Crusader's stature have competed at River Downs in the intervening years, much less at 1 1/4 miles, the record's longevity is especially noteworthy given the widespread technological advances that have made racetracks in general much faster than they were when Crusader raced.
Amazingly enough, the current 1 1/8-mile track record of 1:49 is even older, having been set during the track's inaugural season in 1925.
While the two distances are rarely used during the course of any racing season, major statebred stakes have been contested annually at one or both distances over the past several decades, and yet the records have stood. The Queen City Oaks, which will be renewed on July 22, is run at nine furlongs, while the 1 1/4-mile Governor's Buckeye Cup, which until a few years ago called River Downs home, has for years been the premier race for older Ohio-breds.
Indeed, the two records can rightly be considered the longest-standing track marks in the country for distances still in use. According to the 2006 American Racing Manual, only Churchill Downs, Pimlico, and Fair Grounds have older track records, but in all three instances they are for archaic distances rarely used since the records were set in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.
* With only a few racetracks running on Thursday, July 6, there was very little competition in the simulcast market for River Downs, which enjoyed a record day when $3,953,788 was wagered on its 11-race card. The all-sources handle record shattered the previous mark of $2,532,492, which was set on May 31.
In both instances, River Downs took advantage of running live while most tracks around the country were dark following federal holidays.
* Indy Energy's attempt to become the first Thoroughbred in North America to win nine races this year fell short in a starter allowance last Friday. Indy Energy remains in a three-way tie for the most wins this year, as does another River Downs-based runner, Usher In.
- Vance Hanson
This Snow Is Cold, who was a sharp winner of the Grade 1, $115,650 MBNA America Texas Challenge Championship for Quarter Horses last Saturday night at Sam Houston, will be considered for the Grade 2 Sam Houston Classic on Sept. 1, said her trainer, Melinda Garcia.
Garcia said This Snow Is Cold's main objective this fall is the Grade 1, $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championships at Lone Star Park on Nov. 11.
This Snow Is Cold won the Texas Challenge wire to wire, scoring by three-quarters of a length. The race was the biggest of five Quarter Horse stakes run at Sam Houston on Saturday. Handle on the card was a meet-to-date best of $620,612.
- Mary Rampellini
Classy Cade had done little wrong in his first nine Thoroughbred starts, finishing first or second in each. Of course, all that work came against claimers, save for a try here two years ago against Quarter Horse stakes foes in which he was a nonthreatening last of seven.
That one hiccup aside, trainer Thomas Crowley and owner Carolyn Crowley obviously liked what they saw when they claimed the 5-year-old gelding here June 19 off a big win over $5,500 Arizona-bred claimers. They liked it so much they moved him up to take on 10 others in Tuesday's $15,000 Yavapai Downs Handicap.
Their optimism was lost on no one. Sent off the 2-1 favorite under jockey Michael Iammarino, Classy Cade broke alertly from his rail draw in the 5 1/2-furlong event, chased pacesetter Motivo, blew by that rival into the lane, and drove clear to win by a comfortable two lengths.
Classy Cade covered the distance in 1:01.80 and paid $6.80 for the score. The $8,250 winner's check pushes his career earnings to $28,485 from five wins in 10 Thoroughbred starts.
The win not only validates the claim and his doggedness, but also stamps him a confirmed lover of Yavapai - he has now won five of his six Thoroughbred outings on this track.
His Way stalked midpack and put in a decent rally through the lane to finish second, more than three lengths clear of pacesetting Motivo, who tired back to third. Second choice Ended, also 2-1, was well back early and never able to muster the necessary run, ending up a well-beaten seventh.
- Michael Hammersly