Oklahoma legend Shotgun Kowboy is part of the family

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

A local Remington Park legend, Shotgun Kowboy has done everything asked of him from the day C.R. Trout planned the mating of his dam Shotgun Jane to Kodiak Kowboy. 

When the now-gelding was born on March 25, 2012, Trout was impressed with the foal – a feeling he continues to have even seven years later. 

“He was a good-looking baby when he hit the ground,” Trout said. “He had all the attributes that you want in a horse and he just carried it on to his yearling year then when we broke him. He doesn’t have any flaws in his conformation and he’s sound as a dollar so we’ve been very blessed.”

The winner of 15 of his 40 starts with 28 top three finishes, Shotgun Kowboy has won at least one stakes a year in all but one season he’s raced for over $1.5 million in earnings. However, even with all his previous success, Trout thinks the gelding has stepped up to another level after they fixed a small hoof issue last year.

“Last year was a tough year for him, he had issues with his feet being shelly so we got him over that and this son of a gun has come back with a new lease on life,” Trout explained of the gelding’s four wins in 10 starts last year. “He’s ready to perform and is and has.”

Part of his success can be credited to his unflappable demeanor. The gelding is a tough competitor but he’s also easy going, with Trout believing you could even run errands on him in downtown Oklahoma City without worrying about him trying to do anything funny.

“He’s just a swell horse to be around. We could take him downtown, tie him to the flag, and he’d stand there while we went into the post office,” he said of the gelding. “He’s just that kind of horse, very laid back and it doesn’t seem like anything bothers him.”

That demeanor was on full display in front of the Springboard Mile crowd on Sunday night when he stepped on the track for the closing race of Remington Park’s 2019 meet. Looking like he was out for a trail ride during the pre-race proceedings, he fired up as the field loaded into the gate and finished a good third in the Jeffrey A. Hawk Memorial Stakes in his third run in the race. 

While it wasn’t the result the popular horse’s fans would have wished to end his season, Trout says that as long as everything goes to plan he will return in 2020. The barn will head up to Oaklawn this winter where ‘Shotgun’ has made at least one start a year each of the last four seasons with four victories at the track.

But no matter what happens with Shotgun’s future, it’s obvious the gelding is not only a much-loved member of the Trout barn, but the Trout family as well.

“It’s not so much what he means to the barn, it’s what he means to our family,” Trout concluded. “He was my wife’s pride and joy and she passed away two weeks ago and he just means a lot. He’s kind of a remembrance of her through him.”

Shoplifted Caps a Memorable Day for Steve Asmussen in the Springboard Mile

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Shoplifted (outside) outfinishes Answer In (between) and Embolden (inside) in the 2019 Remington Springboard Mile. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

Steve Asmussen was already having a banner day at Remington Park on Sunday after a win earlier on the card mad him the track’s all-time winningest trainer. His day got even better a few races later when Shoplifted returned to form in the Springboard Mile.

A colt who had shown his talent in Saratoga when winning on debut then finishing second in the Grade 1 Runhappy Hopeful Stakes, Shoplifted went off form when running in California his following two starts. Asmussen concluded the track must have been his issue and decided to give him one final try as a 2-year-old in the Springboard Mile.

It proved to be the right move with Shoplifted providing the trainer with his sixth victory in the race while also earning 10 Kentucky Derby points.

The one-mile race saw Ricardo Santana Jr. put his mount in sixth for most of the running with the field covering the first half-mile in 47.75 seconds. Santana Jr. started sending his mount for the lead as the field went around the far turn and wasn’t afraid to take him wide to give him clear running.

As they entered the stretch, Shoplifted was almost to fellow out-of-town shipper and leader Embolden but still had work to do. Embolden wasn’t going to give in easily while race favorite Answer In also put his hat in the ring with a run for the lead up the rail.

The three-way battle wasn’t decided until they hit the line with Shoplifted just a head in front of Answered In with Embolden half a length behind them to give the shippers the trifecta. Stopping the clock in 1:37.95, the trio was well clear of the rest of the field with fellow Asmussen runner Jungle Runner 13 ½ lengths behind them.

It was a home-state win for Shoplifted’s co-owner Everett Dobson, whose Cheyenne Stable owns the colt with Grandview Equine and LNJ Foxwoods. Making his last appearance as the owner of a Springboard Mile contender in 2010 with future Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse, Dobson was thrilled to be in the winner’s circle nine years later.

“I have to give Steve Asmussen credit,” Dobson said. “He told me [Shoplifted] could be competitive here and in this race and we’re thrilled we came. I have great partners in this horse and they couldn’t be any happier. It’s great to be back in Oklahoma and win a race!”

Asmussen also won the race last year with Long Range Toddy, who provided him the exacta with Bankit. Long Range Toddy ran in this year’s Kentucky Derby while Bankit spent a few races on the Kentucky Derby trail earlier this year.

The Springboard Mile has proved to be a key race for getting into the Kentucky Derby in recent years with the field providing at least one starter in three of the last four editions.

Answer In Headlines Twelve-Horse Remington Springboard Mile

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Answer In settles in at Remington Park before the 2019 Springboard Mile. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

In a competitive Springboard Mile field that includes a 2-year-old making his first start since the Breeders’ Cup among the 12 runners, it’s a maiden that takes top honors on the morning line in the form of Brad Cox trainee Answer In.

The 2-year-old Dialed In gelding is coming off of a 5 ¼ length victory in a Churchill Downs maiden race in his second start and his connections are already aiming higher. Assistant trainer Blake Cox said the Springboard Mile provides a good starting point toward the Kentucky Derby for the gelding with 10 points on offer to the winner of the race.

“It’s not an overly tough race, I think it’s a good race to debut in stakes company,” Cox said about the choice to send Answer In to the race. “He’s a Derby horse, there’s no doubt about it. I think 1 ¼ miles will be a question mark down the road but I think he’s got a lot of talent.”

Answer In will be facing a last-out Breeders’ Cup runner in the form of Shoplifted, who was also second in the Grade 1 Hopeful Stakes earlier this year. The Into Mischief colt recently arrived at Remington Park after spending the last month at Churchill Downs and leads a trio from the Steve Asmussen barn.

Asmussen has won the race five times in his career, including a 1-2-4 finish last year. He looks to continue that success here with two of his horses at odds of 5-1 or less and 15-1 Jungle Runner the winner of the local Springboard Mile prep.

“We have Rowdy Yates, who happens to be an Oklahoma-bred and he’s won two here so far this meet. He won the [Listed] Ellis Park Juvenile Stakes earlier in the summer and he hopes to continue getting better,” said Asmussen’s assistant Darren Fleming. “Jungle Runner was a maiden winner here and came back and won the stake and he’s also a good contender. Then we have Shoplifted, who ran in New York and then went on to California. We’re hoping he’ll rebound in this race.”

In addition to Rowdy Yates, the race also attracted three other Oklahoma-breds and an Arkansas-bred to give the local breeding industry a strong representation in the race. That includes Bret Calhoun’s undefeated Alternate Time, who has won both his starts on the Remington Park track this fall. The 2-year-old will admittedly be making a step up in company here though when making his stakes debut.

An interesting shipper in the race is Mike Stidham’s well-traveled Embolden. The Virginia-bred colt has run at four different tracks but is making a leap up in distance in his return to the dirt after running on the turf since his debut. A son of Alternation, Embolden is a stakes winner and has obvious class but Stidham admittedly isn’t sure what to expect at this distance.

“We felt that he gets over the dirt just as well as he gets over the grass. He’s got the right temperament and we feel like he’ll handle the two turns and the dirt,” Stidham said. “I would say any time you’re changing distances and you’re navigating two turns with a horse for the first time who has already run five times sprinting certainly it adds a new dimension,” Stidham said. “So just seeing how he handles the two turns is the biggest challenge. It’s no easy spot, there’s a couple horses in here who have run really well already also. It’s a tough spot and his first time around two turns so we’re going to learn more about him in this race.”

The final domestic 2-year-old points race of the year for the Kentucky Derby, the Springboard Mile has proven to be an important stepping-stone to the 3-year-old Kentucky Derby prep races in recent years.

Last year’s winner Long Range Toddy went on to win the Grade 2 Rebel Stakes and run in the Kentucky Derby while 2017 Springboard Mile runner up Combatant also made the Kentucky Derby starting gate after hitting the board in three Kentucky Derby prep races. Three-year-old Champion Will Take Charge also finished second in this race the year before his championship campaign while 2015 Springboard Mile runner up Suddenbreakingnews finishing second in the Grade 1 Arkansas Derby before finishing fifth in Kentucky’s version.

This year’s Springboard Mile goes off at 8:19 p.m. Central as the 12th race on Remington Park’s 13-race closing day card.

Long Range Toddy Leads Steve Asmussen Exacta in Remington Park Springboard Mile

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

The closing day of the 2018 Remington Park meet proved to be a banner day for trainer Steve Asmussen.

Not only did the trainer tie his record of most wins in a single day with five, he also broke his own record of most wins in a season with 105 – including two on the final day with horses he also owns. But perhaps his most impressive feat of the day was training three of the first four home in the Springboard Mile, including the exacta.

Surprisingly, it was Asmussen’s longest shot of five entries that won the race with Long Range Toddy going off at odds of 18.60-to-1 and paying $39.20 for his victory.

Long Range Toddy (5) holds off stablemate Bankit (8) in the Springboard Mile. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

Sitting about a length off the leaders as they set early fractions of 24.13 and 48.76 in the one-mile race, coming around the far turn Long Range Toddy dropped back and for a second looked as if he may be in trouble. But it quickly became obvious the move was by design as jockey Richard Eramia was able to get him in the clear and past the leaders in deep stretch to stop the clock in a time of 1:39.75.

The wire couldn’t have come any later from Long Range Toddy with Bankit, the shortest of Asmussen’s shots at 3.30-to-1, making a late surge to lose by only a head. The stablemates provided owner Willis Horton Racing a 1-2 finish as well with Long Range Toddy bred and owned by Horton and Bankit co-owned with Winchell Thoroughbreds.

“He’s a beautiful colt, a home-bred of Mr. Horton’s,” Asmussen said. “It was a nice win and I’m proud of him and Bankit, who ran second.”

Dunph was the only horse in the top four not to be trained by Remington’s leading trainer, taking home two Road to the Kentucky Derby leaderboard points for trainer Mike Maker when finishing third.

Long Range Toddy has a familiar connection to two of Horton’s most famous racehorses. He is by Take Charge Indy – a half-brother to Horton’s Will Take Charge and the dam of his champion Take Charge Brandi – and his dam is by Will Take Charge’s sire Unbridled’s Song. Long Range Toddy’s extended family includes champions Champagne Room and Brujo under his fourth dam in addition to Grade 1 winner A.P. Valentine (also by Take Charge Indy’s sire A.P. Indy).

Long Range Toddy’s dam Pleasant Song has produced three winners from four to race. She went through the ring at the Keeneland November Sale when Long Range Toddy was a weanling, carrying a full sibling to the colt when bringing $22,000 from Machmer Hall in 2016.  

2018 Remington Springboard Mile Picks and Analysis

For a preview of the field of the Remington Springboard Mile, make sure to read Melissa Bauer-Herzog’s article.  In separate articles, she also spotlights Brad Cox’s runners on Springboard Mile Day, and points out some pedigree and auction facts about some of the contenders.

Trainer Steve Asmussen sends out five of the eleven horses in the Remington Springboard Mile.  One of them, Bankit, looks downright imposing.  The New York-bred son of Central Banker does step forward from state-bred stakes company to open, but is fast enough to do so.  The pace versatility he has shown makes him particularly appealing.  Though Bankit carved the early fractions in his first four career starts, he showed an ability to endure a contested pace.  Then, in his longest race to date, he settled well off the pace and won the Sleepy Hollow Stakes impressively.  It is that newly shown rating gear that makes Bankit so appealing: with Epic Dreamer, Marquee Prince, :Long Range Toddy, Dunph, and D Toz all best right on the pace, staying out of that fight holds the key to victory.  Two turns is a question, as Bankit has only gone the one-turn mile of the Sleepy Hollow — but he can get a mile, and even though sire Central Banker was a stone-cold one-turn horse, dam Sister in Arms (Colonel John) scored both of her career wins over two turns.  He should stretch out.

Tobacco Road has been a tough horse to predict during his nascent career.  He is still unproven at two turns, as his three best races have all come at seven furlongs: a pair of victories at Ellis, and a third-place finish behind Long Range Toddy in the Clever Trevor.  But, Tobacco Road does have some upside in this spot.  He didn’t get too fast a pace to chase in the Clever Trevor, as Long Range Toddy was at the vanguard from start to finish, and even second-place Cajun Firecracker came from closer up than Tobacco Road did.  With more to chase here, Tobacco Road could make better account.  The switch to Ramon Vazquez is a positive — Vazquez is a 24% rider at Remington, and (as I see it, wisely) abandons both Kaziranga and Dobbins G to take this call.  And, the breeding does suggest two turns should suit, at least someday, since Tobacco Road is a Quality Road half-brother to class turf routers Isabella Sings and Alaura Michele.

We can’t spend all day talking about the Steve Asmussen entries, even though he has so many live ones.  The morning line favourite is Epic Dreamer from the Kelly Breen shedrow, but he has never faced winners, and will be one among a well-populated brigade of frontrunners.  More appealing — and likely a better price — is Paul Holthus’s offering, Six Shooter.  The son of Trappe Shot has come a long way from debuting in a $20,000 maiden claimer in September — a race from which his current connections claimed him.  Six Shooter has since won twice in four starts against protected company.  That includes a victory over the one-turn mile at Churchill on November 25.  These foes are tougher, of course; that came in a washed-off grass race.  But, Six Shooter did beat horses intended for the dirt when he broke his maiden at Indiana Grand in October.  And, his running style should suit the Springboard Mile beautifully, since nothing about it suggests that he’ll be lured into the likely pace battle.  He has proven that he can sit just off the pace and make a smart rally.

Selections:

#8 Bankit (3/1)
#9 Tobacco Road (15/1)
#4 Six Shooter (8/1)

Longshot:  Like his stablemate Tobacco Road, #6 Tone Broke (15/1)  should benefit from the plethora of speed horses entered in the Springboard Mile.  Despite a short field and a dawdling early pace, he kicked on smartly in the lane to run them all down.  Tone Broke will have to improve off of what he showed in his N2L victory on November 23 to win this, but he can.  The last-out win showed he could handle the course and distance, and it was his first start after a two-month break.  It’s also a positive that he keeps David Cabrera in the irons — Cabrera is a 22% rider at Remington, has finished in the money in 10 of his last 11 starts for Asmussen leading into the final race week at Remington, and has ridden Tone Broke for his last two starts.  Both were victories over the course and distance; it’s safe to say they have a rapport.

Asmussen Enters Five in Competitive Remington Springboard Mile

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

Remington Park, home of the Springboard Mile. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

A four-time winner of the $400,000 Springboard Mile, Steve Asmussen hasn’t seen the winner’s circle for the race since 2014 when Bayerd beat Shotgun Kowboy by a head, but Remington’s leading trainer looks to break that streak on Sunday.

The trainer has five horses entered in the one-mile 2-year-old feature from those who have spent their whole career at the track to those shipping in for the first time.

The leader of the group according to the morning line odds is Bankit, a Central Banker colt who is coming into the race off a victory in the Sleepy Hollow Stakes at Belmont Park and broke his maiden at Saratoga over the summer.

Originally pointed to the Remsen, co-owner Winchell Thoroughbreds’ manager David Fiske said for a variety of reasons they changed course to this race.

“We had some other horses for the Kentucky Jockey Club, we seem to have a lot of stakes winning- and stakes placed-two year old colts this year,” Fiske said. “Not that I’m complaining and we’re very fortunate to be in that position but trying to find spots to run them and not run them over the top of one another and that’s just ours. Steve’s got a bunch of other nice 2-year-old colts as well. The $400,000 [purse] is attractive, Steve’s got a division at Remington, Darren [Fleming’s] there. All that works out, it’s not really out of the way for us.”

While Asmussen’s string is formidable, a field of 12 horses searching for Kentucky Derby points makes this anything but a slam dunk for the trainer on paper.

Kelly Breen ships in Epic Dreamer, who has been named the morning line favorite at odds of 8/5. Coming into this race off a 2 ½ length maiden victory at Belmont Park on October 26, Epic Dreamer was making his second start. The month previously at the same track, the Orb colt had finished second by 1 ¾ lengths behind next-start Grade 3 Nashua Stakes winner Vekoma.

Another shipper coming in for the race is Brad Cox’s Marquee Prince, who has already tested stakes company when finishing fifth in the Street Sense Stakes at Churchill Downs behind future Grade 1 winner Improbable.


Brad Cox trainee Marquee Prince, before the 2018 Street Sense Stakes. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

“He’s doing really well,” Cox said. “After the Street Sense he had a few really nice works at Churchill and we shipped him over to Oaklawn from Churchill, which is obviously a little closer to Remington. He had a good breeze here on Monday. He’s a 2-year-old who has won two races and you don’t have many options with those type of horses this time of year. We wanted to get him back around two turns. The Street Sense was just a race where we were obviously at Churchill and he was doing well. I took a shot there, he ran respectable and we’re excited about getting him back around two turns.”

Of the local challengers, Danny Pish’s D Toz and Asmussen’s Long Range Toddy seem to have the two best opportunities for a fully Southwest region-raced horse to get back to the winner’s circle for the first time since Louies Flower in 2013.

Second in a maiden race at Remington on September 30 behind Cowboy Mischief, D Toz broke his maiden next out by 1 ¾ lengths. The gelding’s most recent start came in the Don C. McNeill Stakes on November 24, where he beat the field by two lengths – including Cowboy Mischief. With a field that looks full of speed, D Toz won’t get the lead easily, which is a downside but the gelding has proven to like this track and has regular rider Lane Luzzi aboard for this contest.  

One of two horses owned by Willis Horton Racing along with Bankit, Kentucky-bred Long Range Toddy was also bred by Horton, who is still looking for his first victory in this race after Will Take Charge finished second to 128-to-1 longshot Texas Bling in 2012.

Fourth first out in an August 31 maiden going 5 ½ furlongs here, Long Range Toddy has put that beat behind him in a big way. Next out, Long Range Toddy proved too good for the field when romping by 5 ¾ lengths at the one mile distance of the Springboard Mile. In the local prep for this stakes race, he wasn’t as dominant but proved to be too good for the field when pressing the pace and winning the Listed Clever Trevor Stakes by a length over seven furlongs. The Take Charge Indy colt seems to enjoy more distance – something that could be expected from his breeding – so the return to a mile should suit him well.

Lone Sailor Wins His Derby in Oklahoma; Asmussen and Santana Win Five Stakes

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

One of the most consistent 3-year-olds in the division this year, Lone Sailor has been a bright light for G M B Racing after the loss of owner Tom Benson in March. But there was one thing the colt couldn’t manage to do – win a Derby.

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Lone Sailor (outside) got the nod over Believe In Royalty (between) and Diamond King (inside) to win the 2018 Oklahoma Derby. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

That all changed in the 1 1/8 mile Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby on Sunday night at Remington Park when the Tom Amoss trainee stuck his nose in front of Believe In Royalty and Diamond King. The victory was the shortest margin in the history of the race and was his fourth attempt at a “Derby.”

Sitting near the back of the field throughout the early running of the race, Lone Sailor was over five lengths behind the pacesetting Diamond King during multiple calls as they clocked the first half in :46.94. Jockey James Graham swung the colt out five wide in the stretch then the game was on. But it wasn’t easy sailing with both Diamond King and Believe In Royalty determined to get the win as well. None of the three horses yielded in the final strides, with a photo called to determine the placings.

The three-way photo finish was so close that even the jockeys weren’t sure who won when they crossed the wire with Graham jubilant when the photo was announced. Believe In Royalty was second with Diamond King in third.

“I had no idea who of the three of us won when we hit the wire,” Graham told track publicity. “But I did know this, I could feel my horse stretching his neck out, so I thought we had a chance. Tom didn’t give me any instructions, he just said that he thought this horse was continuing to get better and better. I could feel that too. He would run second and second and second, but I think now he is finally figuring it out.”

Lone Sailor went off at odds of 3.40-to-1 and completed the 1 1/8 miles in 1:49.97.

Lone Sailor has made nine starts in 2018 for $749,600 in earnings. In his career thus far, the colt has finished second or third in five graded stakes but this is his first stakes victory.

Also notable on the card was a day of epic proportions for trainer Steve Asmussen and jockey Ricardo Santana Jr. The pair combined for five stakes wins, a new record for the track. The pair’s biggest win of the night was in the Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks when favorite She’s a Julie won by 1 ½ lengths over Remedy and Cosmic Burst.

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Jockey Ricardo Santana with E.L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes winner Adventurous Lady. (Photo: Melissa Bauer-Herzog)

But that wasn’t the only spectacular filly on the day for the pair with Kantharos’ 2-year-old Adventurous Lady taking out the E.L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes by 5 ¼ lengths for her third win in five starts. The duo swept the baby races with B.B. Dude getting their day off to a winning start when taking out the Kip Deville in the first stakes of the day. Both victories were for owner Jerry Durant.

Hence also returned to the winner’s circle for the pair when winning the Governor’s Cup for Calumet Farm. Forevamo was second and crowd favorite Shotgun Kowboy was third. Adore shut out the big day of stakes at Remington Park in the Ricks Memorial Stakes with a 3 ½ length victory over Hachi – again for the Asmussen/Ricardo Jr. pair, this time for Winchell Thoroughbreds.

2018 Oklahoma Derby Selections

This year’s Oklahoma Derby drew a competitive field of eleven, which Melissa Bauer-Herzog previewed here yesterday. The wagering appeal is as strong as the field size, particularly given the question marks hovering over the likely favourites.

Lone Sailor is the most proven horse in this field, and it looks like he’ll get some pace to chase from Sea Foam, Diamond King, Eisenstaedt, Limation, and possibly even Retirement Fund in the field. However? Dirt routes at Remington have been relatively kind to forward placings, and Lone Sailor himself has been a frequent runner-up. It is difficult to see that changing today — it would be likely to see Lone Sailor run into a placing, but there isn’t a compelling reason to think he will break the cycle and find the line.

Morning line favourite Limation, from the imposing shedrow of Steve Asmussen, has questions surrounding him. His Super Derby was a huge effort, and his tactical speed makes him a threat. It was a career best, though anyone willing to toss his Ellis Park Derby clunker will notice it wasn’t such an anomalous effort compared to the form he was coming around to earlier in the year at Churchill and Ellis. A repeat of the Super Derby effort will make him tough. But, that race came on good dirt, and Limation’s better work has come on off tracks. He merits a look for a defensive use or a spread ticket, but isn’t the most exciting as an affirmative play.

So, who gets the nod?

Todd Pletcher has not won an Oklahoma Derby yet, but he has a live one in Wooderson. Pletcher picks a reasonable spot for the lightly-raced colt’s stakes debut. His breeding suits a mile and an eighth well — he is an Awesome Again half-brother to Rachel Alexandra — and that has borne out on the track. Wooderson has blossomed at this trip. He broke his maiden July 22 at Saratoga going nine furlongs, and then missed by just half a length at the same distance last time out. It was his first attempt against winners, and he was beaten by an older horse. Now he drops back against his own age group. Though he takes the blinkers off, his single start without blinkers had him forward, suggesting he should be able to gain a forward position.

Sea Foam gets a class test in this, as he spent most of his summer running aganst New York-breds. His only open stakes try was on grass, so not necessarily a reflection of how he will perform on dirt in this race. He has won his last two, including a wire-to-wire victory in the Albany Stakes on August 24. That came at a mile and an eighth, a positive since this race covers that same trip. Though he will not likely get the decisive lead he got that day, looking back into his two-year-old form suggests that he can be more tactical if he has to be. If his new rider Florent Geroux can tap into that, he can stalk and pounce at attractive odds.

Selections:
#2 Wooderson (4/1)
#9 Sea Foam (12/1)
#4 Limation (3/1)

Longshot: #3 Believe in Royalty (20/1) has yet to prove himself at this level, but should be able to make better account of himself at this mile and an eighth trip. During his career he has shown some tactical versatility; he cleared his maiden and one-other-than conditions on the front end, but rallied from well off the pace to take down the Ellis Park Derby on August 12. That gives rider Gabriel Saez some options. he has never gone past a mile and a sixteenth, but he is bred to thrive with the extra bit of distance: he is by Tapit out of Kentucky Oaks winner Believe You Can. Don’t let the price get too low, since Believe In Royalty still has to take a step up from that Ellis Park Derby outing. But, the upside is there, and Larry Jones has a plan when he puts his horse on the van.

2018 Oklahoma Derby Features Big Names and Big Pedigrees

by Melissa Bauer-Herzog

A day after watching Super Saturday races across the nation, attention turns to Remington Park on Sunday for a 12 race card boasting 10 stakes and headlined by the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby.

Worth $400,000, the Oklahoma Derby has attracted a field of 11 with some of the biggest trainers in the country – Steve Asmussen, Christophe Clement, and Todd Pletcher among them – sending runners. Pletcher’s shipment to Remington has a horse with a familiar pedigree in Wooderson, the Awesome Again half-brother to Horse of the Year and Hall of Famer Rachel Alexandra.

Lightly raced, Wooderson provides a bit of an unknown with the colt breaking his maiden at Saratoga two starts ago then finishing second to the year-older Weather Wiz in an allowance next out. He has never tried stakes company before and the step up here may be more difficult than the older horses he faced in Saratoga with two Kentucky Derby contenders in the field. However, a graded stakes victory would look good on his stallion resume and if there are two things Pletcher knows how to do it’s getting a horse ready to win a targeted race and the best way to develop a stallion prospect.

Steve Asmussen sends out four horses in the Derby including Grade 3 Super Derby winner Limation who beat Lone Sailor last out but an even more interesting entry from the barn is Combatant. Second in the Remington Springboard Mile Stakes here last year, Combatant was on the Kentucky Derby trail this year. His results on the trail earned him a spot in the Kentucky Derby and he finished 18th in the race before finishing fifth in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes a month later.

The most interesting thing about Combatant is that even though he’d done fairly well on the dirt, placing in four stakes races his connections opted for turf after the Matt Winn. The colt didn’t disgrace himself on the turf when running his fastest Equibase Speed Figure to date on the surface at Saratoga but after two off-the-board finishes he’s back on dirt here. A placing on this track already and running again horses on the Derby trail and at Saratoga should give bettors some confidence here but this race definitely isn’t a walk in the park.

The horse with the best credentials in this race is almost certainly the Tom Amoss-trained Lone Sailor.


Lone Sailor misses by a nose to Core Beliefs in the Grade 3 Ohio Derby, run at the same nine-furlong distance as the Oklahoma Derby. (Video: JACK Thistledown YouTube channel)

Admittedly, he does have two strikes against him with no wins this year and the 5 ¾ length trouncing Limation gave him in the Grade 3 Super Derby. But for the most part Lone Sailor has been consistent. He’s spent the last year butting heads with some of the best 3-year-olds in this class and was third two starts ago to champion Good Magic.

The worrisome thing about Lone Sailor that the Majestic Warrior son doesn’t seem to love to win but perhaps a drop in class here will help him. Even if he doesn’t get to the winner’s circle, it’s hard to see him finishing off the board.

A sleeper in this field may be the extremely lightly raced First Mondays, who has only made three starts in his career. Debuting in late June, the Curlin colt won his first two starts before finishing third in the Grade 3 Smarty Jones at Parx. Diamond King, the second place finisher in that race is also running here, but it wouldn’t be surprising to see First Mondays make a big leap from his first stakes start to his second. No matter how he runs here, the best to come from him will probably be next year.

First post for the 12 race card is at 3:06 p.m. central time with the Oklahoma Derby scheduled to go off as the second to last race at 8:06 p.m., one race after the recently upgraded Grade 3 Remington Park Oaks.

Picks and Ponderings: 2017 Remington Springboard Mile Day Preview

The stakes season at Hawthorne may be over, but that means Picks and Ponderings now turns eyes afield to the early-stage Kentucky Derby preps.  Sunday the road to the Kentucky Derby visits Oklahoma for the first time, and we delve into that prep, the Remington Springboard Mile.

In addition, we also preview the She’s All In Stakes in detail.  The race has a pair of ties to the Chicago circuit.  The race’s namesake, She’s All In, achieved her only graded stakes triumph on our local circuit, taking the 2012 Sixty Sails Handicap (G3) at Hawthorne.  The field also features the undisputed standout of this year’s Illinois-bred three-year-old  crop, Babybluesbdancing.

Head over to Picks and Ponderings for my analysis of this pair of stakes Sunday at Remington Park, as well as my selections for all six stakes on the card, and let me know your thoughts in the comments!

another excellent week for Curlin babies!

Connect (Bullville Belle, by Holy Bull) carried the banner for Curlin Babies Saturday, winning a loaded edition of the Pennsylvania Derby (GII).  Already a stakes winner after winning the Curlin at Saratoga, he rebounded from a sixth-place finish in the Travers Stakes (GI).  He tracked inside and midpack through much of the race, was finally asked approaching the turn for home, and stoutly held Gun Runner at bay.  It was Connect’s fourth win in six starts, and his first graded victory.

Still, since Thursday, Connect is not the only Curlin baby who has made his mark.  He is one of eight winners by Curlin over that time, in addition to three more stakes placings.

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another juvenile appears!

So far this year, Exaggerator may have gotten most of the ink among two-year-old male Curlin babies, but another juvenile colt has begun to make a name for himself down at Remington Park.

Secret Passage (Sweet Eloise, by Sky Classic) was bred to run.  It took his dam a while to figure it out, as she did not win until ninth time out (at age three), but she ended up winning four times, and was stakes-placed at four.  Her progeny, however, have gotten the hang of things a bit quicker.

Secret Passage is her eleventh foal of racing age.  Among the first ten to start, none won first time out, but none took more than four starts to graduate.  Five of those ten broke their maidens at age two, with the other five doing so at three or four.

Last month, Secret Passage debuted in a one-mile maiden special weight at Remington Park.  The public sent the Donnie Von Hemel trainee off at 9/1 in a twelve-horse field in which every other horse had started at least once before.  He lagged dead last for most of the one-mile race, circled the field around the far turn, and got up to win by 3/4 length.  He became the sixth of Sweet Eloise’s progeny to win at age two, and the first to prevail first time out.

Thursday night the Pin Oak homebred returned in an allowance-optional at Remington, going a mile and seventy yards.  The field size, just five after scratches, could have been a liability given his deep-closing style.  Still, the public had confidence; they sent Secret Passage off the 4/5 favourite.

Just as he had in his debut, he dropped well off early.  The other four horses in the field all battled for the lead.  Despite the four-way speed battle, the pace was in no way fiery: they ticked off the quarter in 24.74, and the half in 48.99.  Once again, Secret Passage fired, and made a circling move through the far turn.  Mr. N and Better Than Magic tried to stay on, but Secret Passage had their measure.  He won going away, two lengths clear of Mr. N come the wire.

His first two starts have shown a lot of promise, and his pedigree suggests he should only improve with age.  Curlin babies tend to, after all.  Even on the bottom, with so much precocity, there is also a penchant for staying on with time.  Secret Passage is half to Don Dulce (Maria’s Mon), a winner at two who went on to win a stakes race at four, and is still going strong in allowance-optional company in New York this year at seven.  Half-brother Strong Resolve (Elusive Quality) broke his maiden at two as well, but is still racing now at six, and has won twice this year.  Half-sister Sweet Relish (Smoke Glacken) graduated at two, but won a stakes race and was Grade III placed at three.   Wherethewestbegins (Gone West) also scored his first win at two, but won seven times throughout his career, including ones his seven-year-old year.  In short, though Secret Passage is already doing strong things at two, his breeding suggests he should age well, and be competitive for a long time to come.

Hopefully, he moves on to stakes company soon.  The Remington Springboard Mile would make sense, given that he has two wins over the course already, including a maiden win at a flat mile.  Then, given that he is trained by Donnie Von Hemel, it would make sense to see Secret Passage try Oaklawn in the winter and spring.  Hopefully he develops, handles the rises in class with aplomb, and becomes another serious Curlin baby on the Derby trail.

Both what he has shown and what lurks in his pedigree make that a promising proposition.