One thing we can always count on each racing season is this: Oklahoma Derby Day at Remington Park is always one of the best trips of the year! This year it was no different as Remington Park treats the members of the racing media like gold with track announcer Dale Day taking care of us each and every year. With a front row seat right on the wire and an all you can eat buffet how can you go wrong? This year however was even more special because of the outstanding company that surrounded me. One of the great things about getting into racing is meeting all sorts of great people, and at this year’s Oklahoma Derby I made three new friends in Robin (@Rblifeisgood), Kari (@horseflynawall), and Joe (@And_awaythejoe). If you hear they are coming to a track near you…I suggest you hit them up on Twitter and meet up!
Ok enough about me and my good times…lets get to the action on the track! Sunday’s Oklahoma Derby Day had some extremely competitive and excitingly close races this year.
Lets start with the Oklahoma Derby itself where for the second year in a row the race was won by a “local trainer.” Last year Oklahoma bred Shotgun Kowboy was a wire to wire winner, and this year Texas bred Texas Chrome gutted out a big time win as he kicked clear late of Stickstatelydude who also ran a big race. The win for Texas Chrome makes it three in a row for him as amazingly he had just won the Grade 3 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs just two short weeks earlier. If you aren’t sold on his running lines in the “smaller” stakes races this season that’s ok…just check out the fact he’s been competitive in other races with horses like Gun Runner and American Freedom and you can see he’s a really nice horse. The second place finisher Stickstatelydude ran bravely to finish second, and Fish Trappe Road really tried hard to finish third even though it was visible that the distance was a bit too long for him.
While Texas Chrome stole the show for the most part, a filly named Unbridled Mo made a splash as well as she took home the Remington Park Oaks. Favorite Family Tree who had been on quite a roll heading into this race faded late down the lane allowing Unbridled Mo to come up the rail and pull away for the win. This is a rapidly improving filly, and also one that is a physical specimen. Anytime trainer Todd Pletcher ships a horse into a race track like Remington Park you have to pay attention, and it was especially telling that jockey John Velazquez followed Pletcher to Remington to ride all of his horses.
Another local favorite came through in a big way as Ivan Fallunovalot took home the David M. Vance Sprint Stakes for the second year in a row. Last year Ivan cruised to the easiest of wins in this race, but this year he had to so some major running in the stretch as he came up the inside to catch a tough foe on the front end in Wings Locked Up. It’s will be interesting to see if Ivan once again uses this race as a spring board to the Breeders’ Cup Sprint. He struggled in that race last year so perhaps an easier spot could be next.
Finally, we can’t ignore an absolute standout performance from Chocopologie to take home the Governor’s Cup Stakes. After sitting close and stalking the pace early, this horse simply blew the doors off everyone else to win this race by five lengths in the end. His price of 9-1 shows that this one was a mild upset, but after his last race perhaps we should have seen it coming. Hard knocker Smack Smack had a wide trip, but still hung tough and finished second. Even with a perfect trip though he would have been hard pressed to beat this runaway winner who looks to be in great form and is has put it all together.
Local favorite Ibaka and two year old Cool Arrow were the other significant wins, especially the latter of the two considering he’s a two year old who won easily. Those types of horses usually warrant a lot of attention, and his stand out win did open a few eyes on Sunday. Ibaka was just too classy for his group, and is always very tough at Remington Park and Will Rogers Downs.
With Remington Park in our rear view mirror the next trip on the agenda is…the Breeders’ Cup! Joe, Robin, and Kari…I can’t wait to see you all again! Remington Park…cheers until next time! We can’t wait to come back.