08/12/2001 11:00PM

Top Hit a smash in Oklahoma Derby


OKLAHOMA CITY- Top Hit picked an opportune time to win his first two-turn race. The developing colt, a four-time sprint winner, overtook pacesetter Unbridled Time at the wire to win the Grade 3 $300,000 Oklahoma Derby, the richest stakes of the season at Remington Park.

It was another 3 3/4 lengths back in third to Compendium in the 1 1/8-mile stakes.

Jockey Garrett Gomez rode Top Hit to improve to a perfect 3-for-3 in the race, which was formerly called the Remington Park Derby.

Garrett's other winners were Marked Tree in 1993 and Dazzling Falls in 1995.

Top Hit raced about five lengths behind the pace in fifth early on while Unbridled Time was allowed to coast on the lead through an opening six furlongs in 1:12.04. Top Hit launched his bid at about the three-eighths pole and was in a drive to the wire, edging Unbridled Time by a head in dramatic fashion before a crowd of 5,889.

"I thought we won it," said trainer D. Wayne Lukas, who saddled Unbridled Time.

Top Hit covered 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:49.79 and returned $4.60 as the favorite. It was the biggest win of his career, as well as the richest win for his trainer, Kory Owens.

"I've been looking at this race for quite a while, especially when he started running well going long at Hollywood Park," said Owens, who trains Top Hit for Triple AAA Ranch.

Owens said Top Hit could make his next start in the Grade 2 $300,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown on Sept. 29. The colt earned $180,000 for the victory, which improved his career record to five wins from 13 starts and earnings of