08/07/2002 11:00PM

Signal going far and wide

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When the powerful and far-flung Magna Entertainment purchased Remington Park in Oklahoma City in the fall of 1999, local concerns hoped the transaction would translate into wider distribution of the track's signal.

Their wishes will be realized Saturday when Remington Park opens for a 76-day meet with its largest network of simulcast outlets ever. The season, which gets underway with the $30,000 Chuck Taliaferro Memorial Stakes, runs to Dec. 21.

For the 14-year-old Remington Park, being part of the ever-growing Magna family of tracks, coupled with recent changes to Oklahoma simulcast laws, has paved the way for the record number of offtrack sites.

This spring, the state legislature dropped restrictions on incoming simulcasts - Oklahoma tracks had been limited to six full cards daily - and when it did, signal trade talks flowed freer between Remington and new markets like Maryland.

"It's more like even trade," said Fred Hutton, director of racing for Remington Park.

Hutton said contracts are in place for about 140 sites to take races from Remington this fall, including a dozen new markets such as Maryland, Delaware, Oaklawn Park, Arizona, Michigan, Ohio, Colorado, and possibly Chicago.

The track's races will also be featured on XpressBet, an account wagering business owned by Magna, while partial cards will be sent to California for the next three Fridays in August.

In addition, Remington has a contract in place to send its Grade 3, $250,000-added Oklahoma Derby on Aug. 25 to New York.

The Oklahoma Derby is the richest of 25 stakes this meet worth a cumulative $1.3 million. Other races of note include the seven-stakes Oklahoma Classics Day on Oct. 27, and the $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup Turf on Sept. 29.

The DeBartolo has been shortened in distance to 1 1/8 miles this meet after being run at 1 3/8 miles for several years. Among those pointing for the revised race are Mr Ross, the Remington Park-based millionaire who has been on vacation since May.

Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Mr Ross, is after his 11th title at Remington. He will face the usual suspects: Joe Offolter, Joe Petalino, Clinton Stuart, Joe Lucas, Lynn Chleborad, and Kari Craddock, as well as newcomer Matt Siciliano, who invades from the Magna-owned Great Lakes Downs in Michigan.

First post Saturday is 2:30 p.m.