Story book endings and horse racing are not two things that often go together. In fact, usually horse racing can be described at times as a cruel and punishing game. It’s not often that the hometown hero or fan favorite horse wins the big race.
However, last Sunday, two long-time Oklahoma star horsemen failed to pay attention to that stigma. Trainer/Owner/Breeder C.R. Trout and jockey Cliff Berry thrilled the large Remington Park crowd as their Oklahoma Bred Shotgun Kowboy went wire-to-wire to win the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3). “I was thinking at the three-eighths pole, ‘Please, don’t falter,’ Berry said of Shotgun Kowboy. “Then I was thinking ‘Come on finish line!”” You couldn’t have fit another person in the winners circle as the horse, trainer and jockey was wildly cheered when they entered the oval. There was no question about it. This was “Oklahoma’s Horse.”
Shotgun Kowboy was no stranger to success at Remington Park prior to this race. As a 2-year-old he was a standout at the track and nearly won the biggest race of the year for his age group as he finished second; just a neck behind Bayerd in the Springboard Mile. His 3-year-old season looked to be a promising one, but a minor issue and small bout with colic derailed those plans. Given significant time away from the track to recuperate, Shotgun Kowboy returned to the races on August 29th and dominated an allowance field by nearly twelve lengths clearly showing he was back in a big way. Before Sunday only one Oklahoma Bred, Clever Trevor in the inaugural running, had won the Oklahoma Derby. Shotgun Kowboy made it number two and was also the first locally stabled horse to win the race in several years.
Every good horse also has a good horseman behind them, and luckily for Shotgun Kowboy he has one of the best in Owner/Breeder/Trainer C.R. Trout. Trout is a true throw back in the game. It’s not often you see the combination of Owner, Breeder, and Trainer in today’s racing scene, but for Trout its just normal business. The locally based trainer has had huge success at Remington Park (he won 4 races on Derby day), but surprisingly this was his first victory in the Oklahoma Derby. He had started three horses prior to Shotgun Kowboy in the race (Dreaminofthewin, Tricky Slew, and Maysville Slew), but only managed a fourth, ninth, and tenth in those starts. However, this time he had the right horse at the right time. Shotgun Kowboy was trained perfectly up to this race and left no doubts.
The feel good story doesn’t end with C.R. Trout. It actually gets better with this next storyline: Cliff Berry. Berry has almost become an iconic figure to any Southwest or Midwest racing fan. His success at Remington Park, Oaklawn Park and Lone Star Park speaks for itself and will be hard pressed to be matched. Shortly before the beginning of the Remington Park meet, Berry announced that he would be retiring at the end of the local meet. How fitting that the native of Jones, Oklahoma would win his third Oklahoma Derby (tying him for most with Garrett Gomez) on an Oklahoma Bred in Shotgun Kowboy. You simply couldn’t write a better story. What’s even more crazy is this was the first time Cliff Berry had ever rode Shotgun Kowboy. Amazingly, all the stars aligned for Berry making for one amazing story. I guess the old saying of “good things happen to good people” could never be more true in this case.
While Shotgun Kowboy ended up stealing most of the headlines we must also briefly mention three other nice performances on the day starting with Breeders’ Cup Sprint hopeful Ivan Fallunovalot who absolutely cruised to victory in the Remington Park Sprint Cup. “On to Kentucky” seemed to be the mindset for his connections in the winners circle after the race. Another who could be on to the Breeder’s Cup as well is Include Betty who was able to add to her flashy resume with a win in the Remington Park Oaks. She didn’t crush the competition as easily as we all thought she would but still never seemed to be in any real danger of losing. Finally, how could we not mention C.R. Trout once again as he took home the Kip Deville Stakes with Oklahoma Bred (big surprise) Bring It On Dude. Perhaps this 2-year-old will now follow in the footsteps of fellow stablemate Shotgun Kowboy.
In closing I’d like to give a huge thanks to Remington Park for treating us tremendously well. We’ve been to several tracks around the country and Remington Park is the runaway winner of the hospitality award. Special thanks goes out to track announcer Dale Day for taking the time to meet us and let us watch him call a race from the booth, as well as our host Nick Trougakos for taking us wherever we wanted to go. We are thankful and look forward to coming back soon. Perhaps to watch Bring It On Dude take home the Springboard Mile in December!