03/15/2015 5:35PM

Will Rogers will offer twilight racing on Saturdays


Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa, Okla., launches its 30-date Thoroughbred meet on Monday with a restructured calendar, a twilight racing series, and packed stable area. The season runs through May 26. 

Will Rogers is opening its meet a week later this year to flow better with the recently-concluded meet at Sam Houston, said Will Rogers racing secretary Jesse Ullery. The season also will run later into May.

“We pushed the meet back a week to get off of Houston a little more,” Ullery said. “A lot of guys come from Houston and it helps them with their shipping and everything. We’ll end on the Tuesday after Memorial Day.”

Will Rogers is racing Mondays and Tuesdays in March, then adding Saturdays to the schedule for April and May. Post times for Mondays and Tuesdays will be an hour later this year, at 1:15 p.m. Central. Ullery said the Saturday programs will start at 3:30 p.m. Central.

“We’re having a twilight racing series and we’ll run eight races on the Saturdays,” Ullery said.

The abbreviated Saturday programs allow for the later post as Will Rogers does not have lights on the track. Following the races, there will be live entertainment on Saturdays, said Ullery.

Will Rogers, which has 250 electronic gaming machines, has a $400,000 stakes schedule for 2015. Purses at the meet are scheduled to average $135,000 to $140,000 a program, said Ullery. He said he has received requests for 1,000 stalls. The track has 600.

“Certainly there is want to participate at this meet,” Ullery said. “I think everybody is pretty excited about it.”

Roger Engel, the winner of last year’s training title, has returned for the new season at Will Rogers. Others expected to be active at the meet include Karl Broberg, back with a division on the grounds after a two-year absence. Floyd Wethey, winner of last year’s riding title, has returned to face a colony that includes Curtis Kimes, Belen Quinonez, Jose Medina, and Adrian Ramos.

Ullery said Will Rogers will again offer a 50-cent minimum on two pick fours a day. He said the reduced minimum was introduced last year and pools for the pick fours grew from $6,000 to the $30,000 range on Mondays and Tuesdays. 

Beau’s Angel leads the feature for Monday’s opener, an entry-level allowance for 3-year-old fillies at six furlongs. She has been second at the condition in each of her last two starts at Sam Houston. Earlier in her career, Beau’s Angel was third in the $50,000 Gaylord Memorial at Remington Park. Beau’s Angel is a daughter of Speightstown and the stakes-winning mare Annie Savoy. Kari Craddock, who trained Annie Savoy, also trains Beau’s Angel. Alex Birzer has the mount for owner-breeder Hal Browning.