03/05/2011 1:35PM

Will Rogers meet finally opens


Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., will begin its 32-date meet a week later than scheduled on Monday after 48 inches of snow enveloped the track for a two-week period in February. The meet will run through May 21.

“We’ve been waiting, and are ready to get started,” said Kelly Cathey, the racing secretary and track operations manager at Will Rogers.

Will Rogers, which was to have opened Feb. 26, received Oklahoma Racing Commission approval to adjust the dates of the meet, which has also been extended two weeks after having been set to close May 7. The snow hit between Feb. 1-12, said Cathey, and horses on the grounds needed more time to prepare for the season as many will be racing for the first time since Remington Park closed out its Thoroughbred meet in December.

Cathey said purses will average $165,000 a day. There are six stakes set for the meet, with each worth $50,000. The schedule includes two new additions from a year ago, said Cathey. They are a pair of one-mile divisions of the Oklahoma Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds. Both will be run on April 23.

Other highlights of the stakes schedule include a doubleheader for sprinters on May 7. The $50,000 Clem McSpadden Memorial Route 66 is for 3-year-olds and up, while fillies and mares will share top billing in the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller Memorial Stakes.

Cathey said there is a new tote board in place for the meet.

Mike Teel, who won the training title last season, is back and joins a lineup of trainers that includes Roger Engel, Joe Offolter and newcomer Karl Broberg. Jockey Curtis Kimes is back to defend his title against a colony that includes Floyd Wethey Jr. and Adrian Ramos. In addition, Chris Landeros and Lindey Wade are due in town after the Sam Houston meet ends Monday.

Will Rogers, which operates an ontrack casino with 250 electronic gaming machines, will race every Monday and Tuesday, then pick up Saturday programs on March 19. First post Monday is 12:30 p.m. Central.