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1Local Affiliate News for Oklahoma HBPA

OK: Von Hemel sends out strong duo in TRAO Classic Sprint
4/14/2014 11:06:07 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 04/12/2014 5:37 PM

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel will send out the capable pair of Chuck and Z Rockstar against the streaking duo of Chifforobe and Crusin’ Main in the $55,000 TRAO Classic Sprint at Will Rogers on Tuesday. The six-furlong race is restricted to 3-year-olds and up bred in Oklahoma.

Chifforobe could go favored after winning his third straight race last month in the $50,000 Route 66 at Will Rogers. Crusin’ Main will also be out to make it four in a row Tuesday, and he comes off a win in a first-level allowance for open company at Will Rogers on March 17.

Von Hemel counters with Chuck, the winner of the $116,000 Oklahoma Classics Sprint at Remington Park in October, and Z Rockstar, who captured Remington’s $50,000 Silver Goblin in November.

“I think they’ll both be factors in the race,” Von Hemel said.

Chuck enters off a fourth-place finish in an optional $40,000 claiming sprint at Oaklawn on March 28. Z Rockstar, meanwhile, was second in an $80,000 claiming race, also at Oaklawn, in his most recent start March 27. The winner of the race, Moonshine Mullin, returned to capture an optional $50,000 claimer at Oaklawn on Friday.

“Z Rock’s cutting back after some longer races, so we’ll see if cutting back will be a good thing for him,” Von Hemel said. “Both he and Chuck won sprint stakes last year against the breeds at Remington.”

Floyd Wethey Jr., has the mount on Chuck for his breeder and owner, Norma Lee Stockseth. Luis Quinonez will ride Z Rockstar for his owner and breeder, Robert Zoellner.

Chifforobe is returning to the statebred ranks for the first time in a while. He built his streak against open company, winning a pair of optional claimers at Sam Houston and the Route 66 at Will Rogers. The last time he faced fellow Oklahoma-breds he was a first-level allowance winner at Remington Park in November.

Jose Medina has the mount from the rail for owner Paul L. Sinclair and trainer Jody Pruitt.

Crusin’ Main started his streak in November 2012 in a first-level allowance at Remington. He returned from a lengthy layoff in February at Sam Houston and won a $25,000 claiming race. Justin Shepherd has the mount for trainer Kari Craddock.

Also in the nine-horse field is Big Sugarush, the winner of the $50,000 Jim Thorpe last December at Remington Park. In his seasonal debut March 29, he was third in a $10,000 starter allowance at Will Rogers. Cliff Berry has the mount for Roger Engel.

OK: Will Rogers Downs - Added Saturdays at 30-day meet
3/10/2014 10:11:58 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 03/08/2014 3:12 PM

Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., opens Monday with tweaks to its racing and stakes schedule, a reduced minimum for pick fours, and a barn area overflowing with horses. The 30-date meet continues through May 17.

Will Rogers is racing every Monday, Tuesday, and Saturday compared to a Monday through Wednesday schedule last year that did not pick up Saturdays until May. The track also has moved six of its eight stakes to Mondays and Tuesdays, said Jesse Ullery, racing secretary at Will Rogers.

“We’re really excited about this year,” he said. “The last three years we’ve experienced pretty serious gains in” handle.

Betting on Will Rogers’s races from all sources last year was $23.3 million, up $1.75 million over the corresponding meet in 2012, according to figures from the track. There were six programs on which Will Rogers handled $1 million or more. The track, a Cherokee Nation facility that operates a casino with 250 slot machines, starts its eighth year of operation Monday.

The 600-stall stable area is at capacity, with the barn area housing horses for such trainers as Roger Engel, who has won the last three training titles at Will Rogers; Joe Offolter, who invades from Sam Houston; Kari Craddock, a mainstay in Oklahoma; and Scott Young, a retried jockey coming off a high-percentage season at Remington Park. The riding colony is led by Curtis Kimes, who has won the local title the last four years.

“He’s the guy to beat year-in and year-out here,” Ullery said. “We have a lot of veteran riders this meet, and obviously, that’s what horsemen like to see.”

Jockeys Martin Escobar, Benny Landeros, Belen Quinonez, and Justin Shepherd also are signed on for the new meet.

Ullery, 25, is in his second year as racing secretary at Will Rogers. He previously served as the track’s announcer, and upon leaving the booth John Lies, who also is the voice of Lone Star Park, began calling races at Will Rogers.

Ullery said overnight purses are projected to average $135,000 a program. The track’s stakes schedule is worth an estimated $200,000. Ullery moved a pair of open-company sprints, the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller Memorial for fillies and mares March 24 and the $50,000 Clem McSpadden Memorial Route 66 on March 25, up from mid-April with the hopes of catching horses in between meets at Sam Houston and Lone Star, as well as drawing runners from Oaklawn.

Other highlights of the stakes schedule include a pair of $50,000 divisions of the Oklahoma Stallion Stakes for 3-year-olds, both on May 3.

Ullery said beginning March 15, there will be two 50-cent minimum pick fours daily. The bet’s previous minimum had been $2.

First post each afternoon will be 12:30 p.m. Central.

Dates set for Remington Park, Will Rogers Downs
8/28/2013 9:57:20 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 08/27/2013 5:06 PM

The Oklahoma Racing Commission has awarded Remington Park in Oklahoma City a 67-date meet for Thoroughbreds for 2014 from Aug. 15 through Dec. 14. The track also was granted a 50-date meet for Quarter Horses from March 7 to June 1.

Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., was awarded a 32-date meet for Thoroughbreds from March 3 to May 17. The track’s meet for Quarter Horses is set to run 28 dates next year from Sept. 6 to Nov. 8.

Fair Meadows in Tulsa has asked for a 34-date mixed meet from June 7 through Aug. 1 in a request to be heard at the next commission meeting. Ron Shotts, director of racing for Fair Meadows, was unable to attend last week’s meeting and asked that the item be tabled.

She’s All In headlines Oklahoma-bred awards
8/12/2013 10:14:04 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

08/09/2013 10:18 PM

She’s All In, who is on the brink of $1 million in career earnings after finishing second to Royal Delta in last month’s Grade 1 Delaware Handicap, was among the Oklahoma-bred runners honored at a Friday night gala jointly put on by the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Racing Commission. The event recognized individuals and horses that led their divisions in Oklahoma-bred earnings in 2012.

She’s All In was the champion mare after a campaign that included a seven-length romp in last year’s $128,000 Oklahoma Classics Distaff at Remington Park. In her most recent start, she pushed her career earnings to $991,502 when second to champion Royal Delta in the Delaware on July 20.

Robert Zoellner bred and owns She’s All In, a 6-year-old mare by Include and out of the Hickory Ridge mare Georgia Ok. Zoellner was also honored as the leading breeder on Friday.

Other divisional champions included Fifth Date (Cherokee Five – Miss Owl’s Affair, by Black Tie Affair), older male and claimer of the year; Lady Jensen (Bob and John – Heather’s Dancer, by Gate Dancer), 3-year-old filly; Z Rockstar (Rockport Harbor – Nasty Little Star, by Nasty and Bold), 3-year-old; Motivare (Mr. Trieste – Pelusada, by Sadlers Congress), 2-year-old filly; and Jump and Go (Jump Start – Princess Jen, by Stutz Blackhawk), 2-year-old.

Evansville Slew, who died last year, was recognized as leading sire; the son of Slew City Slew has sired 34 stakes winners from 517 foals of racing age (7 percent) through August 8. The leading owner award went to Richter Family Trust. The leading broodmare was Miss Owl’s Affair, dam of Fifth Date.

The gala was held at the National Cowboy and Western Heritage Museum in Oklahoma City.

Hagyard Ships Supplies to Tornado Horses
6/11/2013 1:42:41 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 6/10/2013 7:14:54 PM Last Updated: 6/10/2013 11:01:48 PM

In the days immediately following the devastating tornadoes in Oklahoma May 20, the Hagyard Pharmacy and Hagyard Equine Medical Institute staff collected medical and grooming supplies, tack, and monetary donations to help the equine tornado victims.

Hagyard posted a message on its Facebook page soliciting donations through the pharmacy. In response, Hagyard received both walk-in and mailed donations and posted letters of support to share with their clients. One letter, from a young girl named Bella in Minnesota, accompanied a shoebox containing grooming supplies, a halter, and a lead rope.

In her letter she said: "I was saving them for my horse (someday), but I think this is more important."

"We had a lot of help," said Ashley VanMeter, a pharmacy sales associate. "When we posted the initiative on Facebook a lot of our partners and vendors took our post and shared it—like the Kentucky Horse Park and United States Equestrian Federation and the places that we deal with everyday—so we reached a lot more people than just our clients that we work with directly."

"We've received donations from all over the country," said the pharmacy's Nancy Englund. "There has been a tremendous response."

Bitsy Thompson, who works with Hagyard, said the word was "spread among the farms we deal with, and the support was everywhere. It just opened up."

Brook Ledge Horse Transportation stepped up to provide free transport from the Hagyard offices in Lexington to the Oklahoma State University Center for Veterinary Science, where many of the injured horses are being treated. The shipment is scheduled to depart June 11.

Dever donated 200 bags of shavings; Franklin-Williams donated bandages; Kinetic donated 1,000 bottles of wound spray; McCauley's Feeds in Versailles, Ky., donated two tons of Alam feed, which is formulated for nutritionally challenged horses and those in physical recovery.

As for gifts from individuals, "people just cleared out their barns—buckets, feed tubs, halters, brushes—you name it," Englund said. "As for monetary donations, we've received $16,500, which is going directly to the Oklahoma Relief Fund. Some donations were even credit card purchases from the pharmacy—at cost—for things like antibiotics."

Reported Equine Deaths Exceed 150 in Oklahoma
5/24/2013 3:38:42 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 5/24/2013 3:16:17 PM

Horsemen's groups in Oklahoma are meeting with representatives from the state's department of agriculture and veterinarians May 24 to create a plan going forward following the recent tornado that struck Moore, Okla.

Joe Lucas, executive vice president for the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, said that more than 150 horses perished in the tornados that hit Moore and the Oklahoma City area May 20. That count includes all breeds.

Many of those horses died at Dr. Glenn Orr and Tom Orr's Orr Family Farm near Moore, which sits on the 106-acre Celestial Acres Thoroughbred training center. But Lucas said information is still being gathered from other area farms that suffered losses; a difficult process as many horsemen also are addressing family and housing needs.

"The main concern everyone has of course is the people. I can't give you names of people in need, but the human aspect of this is by far the most important," Lucas said. "But we also have to take responsibility for these horses and animals and that's what we're trying to do on our part."

Lucas appeared on the "At the Races with Steve Byk" radio show May 24 and a horse owner called into anonymously donate $10,000. Lucas said his organization of Thoroughbred owners, breeders, and trainers has received a $10,000 donation from England and a $5,000 donation from South Africa. He's seeing people pull together on the ground as well.

"There are people helping from every walk of life out here; from all over the state and all over the country," Lucas said. "It's great support. This is incredible."

Lucas said his organization and others are taking photos and noting lip tattoos on horses who were displaced so that they can be reunited with their owners. Displaced horses are being sent to area farms, equine retirement centers, and Heritage Place auctions for temporary stabling.

For more information, or to make a donation, contact the TRAO at (405) 427-8753 or the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association at (405) 216-0440.

OKLAHOMA STRONG
5/24/2013 2:43:56 PM  -  Paulick Report 

Posted: 05.24.2013

1:15 pm

There was hardly a breath of good news in Moore, Okla. Monday afternoon. The air that had unleashed its spinning fury on the community was too thick in the aftermath with stories of heartbreak and devastation.

In the equine community, there were tales of flattened farms, piles of dead animals, and people who lost everything – their homes, their horses, their equipment, their livelihoods.

But the tragedy also prompted an outpouring of human spirit, giving, and tireless labor. And those are the stories now filling the air.

“As you might expect from the legendary resiliency of Oklahomans, the community has really pulled together, and in particular, the horse community,” said Scott Wells, president and general manager of nearby Remington Park racetrack and casino.

Remington is one of many equine enterprises pitching in to help horse people, their neighbors, and the horses impacted by Monday’s powerful storm. Wells said the racetrack immediately collected “a mountain of supplies for families in the horse industry who’ve been displaced or otherwise had their lives torn apart.”

Friday afternoon, the racetrack will host a blood drive to benefit tornado victims. Five racehorses, who had been stabled at the destroyed Celestial Acres Training Center, were found alive and brought to Remington for care. The track veterinarian was dispatched to Moore, about 15 miles south of Remington, to help wherever he could.

“Our track vet, Dr. John Chancey, is just doing a heroic job over there, trying to bring aid to some of the people, some of the horses hardest hit,” Wells said.

Supplies were collected at Remington Park for horsemen and their families Several racing trainers based at Celestial Acres lost every one of their horses, plus all of their feed, tack and supplies.

“It’s like their business blowing away,” said Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association (OQHRA). Her group, along with the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO), have created a fund to distribute to horsemen and their families.

“The most immediate need is the guys that were hardest hit at Celestial Acres. Their barns were wiped out and their horses were all killed,” Schauf said. “When they come in here right now, I’m giving each of them $1,000 … to help cover living expenses for the next few days or weeks until we can figure out what else we can do to help them. Hopefully over a period of time, we’ll be able to help these people get back on their feet and get started again.”

Schauf said individuals and other horsemen’s groups around the country have sent in donations. The Iowa Quarter Horse Racing Association wrote a check for $5,000.

“The outpouring of support is just overwhelming,” said Schauf.

Other groups, like the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program (OTRP), are focusing primarily on the horses themselves. According to the latest estimate, more than 150 horses have died. Some perished in the storm; others that were badly injured beyond help had to be euthanized. Still others were found alive and require medical care.

In ordinary circumstances, the OTRP takes Thoroughbreds off the track, retrains them for other careers, and adopts them out. This week, chairman Chris Kirk and his team have supported a new mission: The search for lost horses, identification (with assistance from Red Earth Feed & Tack), and fundraising for the clinics and farms that have offered to care for the surviving animals.

“The vet clinics have taken on a bunch of the horses. They’re needing feed and they’re needing more supplies. They’ve been overwhelmed,” Kirk said. “I’ve got volunteers going to the various places where the horses have been taken and trying to identify them, either through markings or tattoo numbers, if they happen to have one.”

Kirk said all of the horses that were participating in the OTRP before the storm are safe. And there have been other positive developments. An unraced 3-year-old Thoroughbred filly was discovered alive under the rubble of a collapsed barn at Celestial Acres, with only a few lacerations on her leg.

“Her name is Sasha’s Image,” Kirk said. “She was preparing to go into training. Her owner was one of the ones who lost everything. She’s being cared for.”

But efforts to rescue and triage injured horses have been complicated by the lack of a disaster plan for large animals and livestock, said Debby Shauf of the OQHRA. Shauf, who lost her home and all her horses in the 1999 Moore tornado, said it was too difficult following Monday’s storm to get clearance for qualified veterinarians to reach horses in distress.

“We’re all very frustrated by the fact that there wasn’t much of a plan for how to deal with a disaster like this and there wasn’t any coordination of that, and if I don’t do anything else, out of this is going to come a plan in Oklahoma.”

Shauf said she’s already been in touch with the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture, and the agency told her it was anxious to help develop a plan going forward.

Remington Park’s Scott Wells said the track – and all large animal operations – should learn from this week’s tornado and put in place emergency procedures.

“It’s really caused us to refocus our efforts on how we would handle anything, should such a disaster occur here.”

For those wishing to contribute to the efforts in Oklahoma, here are some of the options for donating:

Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program

Donate here or send to:

OTRP
P.O. Box 96
Blanchard, OK 73010 (Note for tornado relief)
Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association
Via Paypal

Checks should be made payable to either OQHRA Benevolence Fund or TRAO Benevolence Fund and put 2013 Tornado on the memo line:

OQHRA
P.O. Box 2907
Edmond OK 73083
(405) 216-0440

Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma
2620 NW Expressway; Suite A
Oklahoma City, OK 73112
(405) 427-8753

Canterbury Park in Minnesota has established a fund for trainer Randy Weidner, who lost his stable of a dozen horses plus his truck, trailer, tack, records and computer.

Checks can be written to:
“Randall Weidner Catastrophe Trust”
Wells Fargo
380 S. Marschall Rd.
Shakopee, MN 55379

Oklahoma Tornado Killed at Least 150 Horses
5/24/2013 9:34:22 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 05/23/2013 4:17 PM

In a sobering count, more than 150 horses died as a result of the violent tornado that swept through Moore, Okla., on Monday. The number represents the entire community of farms that sit on the southern border of Oklahoma City, including Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses who were based at Celestial Acres Training Center.

Several organizations coordinating horse-rescue efforts, as well as local veterinarians and horse owners themselves, determined the number, said Joe Lucas, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.

“We’ve counted, unfortunately, 150 head or more that have been found [dead], were killed, or had to be put down,” Lucas said. “And that’s not just Celestial Acres. That’s the Moore area. That’s what we’ve gotten up to.”

Lucas said a hotline is being set up through the state Department of Agriculture for owners to inquire about lost horses. In addition, there are plans to post photos taken of both surviving and deceased horses for the purpose of identification. The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association are helping with the process, Lucas said.

The team Lucas is working with has located 18 live horses in the Moore area, including five racehorses who were identified by their lip tattoos and sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma City on Wednesday.

“I think we’ve found everything that can be found that’s out there alive,” Lucas said.

Lucas said another 10 rescued horses were sent to facilities in Moore, and an additional three were shipped to Heritage Place, the auction house in Oklahoma City that has opened its doors to displaced horses.

“Horses that have fairly minor injuries that are treatable, they can spend the night for a few days until things get settled,” said Spence Kidney, general manager of Heritage Place. “Plus, if some are not sure where their horses are, it’s a central place to identify those horses. We’re just trying to chip in a little. It’s a terrible situation.”

Kidney said Wednesday the facilities received a miniature stallion, a paint horse, and a small gray mare who appears to be a Welsh pony.

The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program is providing support to horses displaced by the storm, including helping owners with some of the medical costs for the treatment of injured animals. The organization, which is accepting donations through its website, www.otrp.info, also is seeking feed and equipment donations.

“We’re raising money to take care of the horses themselves,” said Chris Kirk, a director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program.

Kirk said one of the most heartwarming stories during this difficult time was the rescue of an unraced 3-year-old Thoroughbred filly named Sasha’s Image. She was found at Celestial Acres on Tuesday evening, more than 24 hours after the storm hit. Sasha’s Image was heard whinnying from beneath some barn doors.

“From what I was told, she was laying flat on her side,” Kirk said. “Her ears were laying flat over the top of her head. They got her up, and her ears were still flat. They said the next morning her ears were pricked up again. She was in a lot of distress, but she’s doing better.”

Tornado hits Durant’s farm in Texas

Tom Durant, the all-time leading owner at Lone Star Park near Dallas, experienced significant damage to his farm in Granbury, Texas, last Wednesday due to a tornado. Durant lost nine horses in the storm, five of them yearlings from the first crop of his multiple stakes winner Sing Baby Sing.

“We took a direct hit,” said Jack Bruner, private trainer for Durant.

Bruner said there was no loss of human life at the farm, but the barns were destroyed, as were four tractors, stores of hay, and “countless miles of fence.” Bruner said he has yet to locate the farm’s six-horse trailer. He said 15 of Durant’s horses remain in the care of Equine Sports Medicine Surgery, an equine clinic in Weatherford, Texas.

“I cannot express how much they’ve done,” he said. “We could not have done it without them.”

Bruner said the majority of Durant’s mares and foals are based at Lane’s End Texas, while his racing operation is at Lone Star. The farm on Thursday was being cleared. “We’re going to rebuild,” Bruner said.

Oklahoma: 34 horses found alive at Celestial Acres Training Center
5/23/2013 9:44:48 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 05/22/2013 5:35 PM

A representative of the Celestial Acres Training Center in Moore, Okla., said 34 horses had been found alive as of Wednesday following Monday’s tornado, which packed winds of nearly 200 miles an hour.

The number of racehorses lost in the storm has been difficult to assess. Several trainers familiar with Celestial Acres estimate at least 80 horses were based there at the time of the storm. Tony Vann, a spokesperson for Glenn Orr and his son Tom, who own the facilities, said he is unable to give a “finite number” of horses stabled at the training center in part because those renting stalls were able to “come and go” as business dictated. As for the racehorse death toll, Vann said there is no accurate number that can be reported.

“There’s no way to quantify it at this point,” he said Wednesday. “Compounding things is that there are two other horse farms in that area and you can’t identify [the origin of some horses]. There’s a lot of things going on.”

A handful of racehorses were rescued from the rubble of the training center and were sent to Remington Park in Oklahoma City on Wednesday. Also, Heritage Place, the nearby sales complex, has agreed to receive any other rescued horses and hold them until their owners can be found, said Joe Lucas, executive vice president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.

Lucas said five racehorses, identified by their lip tattoos and with proper paperwork in place, were shipped to Remington, which is in the midst of a meet for Quarter Horses.

“The racehorses that we could identify all had papers on file at Remington,” Lucas said.

Lucas, who is helping coordinate horse-relief efforts, on Wednesday was working on importing a water truck to Moore. He said some water sources were contaminated, and others were shut off due to the storm.

“People are giving horses water from plastic water bottles,” he said. “Dehydration is a problem. Vets are in the field giving electrolytes.”

Lucas said the field efforts are being spearheaded by Danielle Barber, executive director of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, and Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association. Earlier this week, the organizations jointly established a charitable account to assist horsemen impacted by the tornado. All donations received will go directly to horsemen, according to a statement distributed late Tuesday.

“There are many horsemen who have been affected by this tragedy and have lost everything they own,” the statement said. “Both horsemen’s organizations, along with Remington Park in Oklahoma City, are working together in coordinating relief to horsemen that have been affected by the storm.”

Remington will race on Friday for the first time since the storm hit. A moment of silence in honor of the lives lost and the lives shattered due to the tornado will be observed prior to the start of the card, said Dale Day, a spokesperson for Remington.

The track, in addition to receiving horses, has also “adopted” 30 families impacted by the storm and is helping to meet some of their needs, said Day. Further, the employees of Remington on Tuesday sent four shipments of food prepared ontrack to the first responders command center in Moore. Remington on Friday will be hosting a blood drive from noon to 5 p.m., said Day. It is being held in conjunction with the Oklahoma Blood Institute.

The outpouring of support for the residents of Moore, as well as the displaced horses, has been outstanding, said both Day and Lucas.

“There was an anonymous person who gave $10,000 for feed and management [of the horses],” said Lucas.

Celestial Acres had four barns and a total of several hundred stalls, said Vann. Only one of those barns, on the north side of the five-furlong training track, was left standing after the storm. The 20 to 25 horses inside that barn all survived, according to Mark Lee, a trainer who lost the 12 horses he had stabled at Celestial Acres. The facilities also included several paddocks and an 85- by 200-foot arena.

“It’s just gone,” Vann said of the arena. “It’s just earth.”

Credit or debit card donations to the relief effort can be made by calling the OQHRA at (405) 216-0440. Checks can be made payable to the TRAO Benevolence Fund or the OQHRA Benevolence Fund, with the memo line to read 2013 Tornado. Donations can be sent to TRAO at 2620 NW Expressway, Suite A, Oklahoma City, Okla., 73112, or the OQHRA, P.O. Box 2907, Edmond, Okla., 73083.

Minn. native loses horses in Oklahoma tornado
5/22/2013 10:51:39 AM  -  kare11.com 

Posted: 9:39 PM, May 21, 2013

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - From 800 miles away, the images of Mother Nature's wrath in Oklahoma are breathtaking. From a few blocks, they're something else entirely.

"It's tough. It's tough to grasp," said Minnesota native Randy Weidner, who lost nearly everything in Moore tornado.

Weidner, 38, grew up in Rosemount, but travels across the country as a race horse trainer with his girlfriend, Lindsey White.

Since February, he's lived at the Celestial Acres Training Center in Moore, Okla. He was set to head back to Minnesota on Wednesday morning to race his horses at Canterbury Park.

That all changed when the twister hit. With his voice sounding tired, he described the moments before the devastation.

"The winds were going crazy. And that's when we tried to get the horses out, but the storm chasers that were there were loading their equipment back in their truck and said you guys got to get out of here right now," he told KARE 11 by phone.

They were forced to leave their 12 horses behind. Looking to seek shelter they were on their way to the Moore Hospital when they decided to go to a friend's house instead.

"The Moore hospital that we were going to go to took a direct hit from the tornado. I guess it's a blessing that we continued on the road to our friend's house," he said.

Their horses were not as lucky. When Weidner returned to the stables, he found all of them dead, along with nearly 100 more lying in the field.

"Those horses are my livelihood and I consider them part of my family," he said as his voice wavered.

His trailer, his truck and all of his personal belongings are gone too. He estimates about $260,000 is lost. All that's left is a slab of concrete where he once laid his head at night.

And while he worries about paying the bills with his horses gone, he knows he hasn't even suffered the worst of it.

"My heart just breaks for these families that lost love ones," he said.

His family set up a fund at Wells Fargo in hopes of raising money for him since he lost most everything. Weidner said the fund is called "Randal Weidner Catastrophe Trust".

Churchill Downs: Oklahoma on their mind
5/22/2013 10:46:49 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 05/21/2013 1:20 PM

A handful of horsemen racing at Churchill Downs have close ties to Oklahoma, where a tornado caused widespread devastation Monday.

Steve Asmussen, Steve Hobby, and Randy Morse all have years of experience at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, but none can match Donnie K. Von Hemel, who is as closely identified with Oklahoma racing as anyone.

Von Hemel, stabled at Churchill with a full barn for the first time in years, is the all-time leading trainer at Remington and a member of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame. He has been closely monitoring the tragic events in his adopted home state.

“First and foremost is the concern we all have with the loss of life in Moore [Okla.], with the grade school and all,” Von Hemel said Tuesday at Churchill. “It’s just terrible. We’re all trying to come to grips with it. Obviously, our thoughts are with everyone affected there. My family and friends live to the northwest of Oklahoma City, and the tornadoes hit more to the south. I do know that some of my colleagues with racehorses have been impacted ... We’re all very concerned for them.”

OK: Trainer Lee Loses Entire Stable in Tornado
5/22/2013 10:03:36 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 05/21/2013 9:35 AM

Mark Lee, a Thoroughbred trainer who regularly competes in Oklahoma, lost his entire 12-horse stable in the deadly tornado that hit Moore, Okla., on Monday afternoon. Lee was based at the Celestial Acres Training Center that experienced extensive damage at the hands of 200 mile-per-hour winds. He believes a large number of horses were lost in the storm, but said one barn on the north side of the training center simply had its roof torn off and the 20 to 25 horses inside all survived. Lee lives six miles from Celestial Acres.

“I showed up a few minutes after it happened; there were mangled horses everywhere,” Lee said.

“I had one guy in the barn trying to let horses go when it hit. He survived. He dug himself out of the rubble. I have no idea how.”

Lee said the training center was pretty full, and in addition to Thoroughbreds, the facility housed mainly Quarter Horses due to the meet for that breed currently in progress at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

Lee said there were a number of broodmares and foals stabled at farms surrounding Celestial Acres, and he believes many of those horses were lost in the storm Monday.

Lee will work to rebuild his stable, but is now simply helping the recovery process at Celestial Acres.

The full extent of the damage to Celestial Acres, which features a five-eighths-mile training track, was not known as of Monday night. Celestial Acres is one of two businesses on a 160-acre tract of land owned by Dr. Glenn Orr and his son, Tom, said Tony Vann, a spokesperson for the family. The other business is Orr Family Farm, a popular tourist attraction that features a petting zoo, trains and a zipline.

Tom Orr is a longtime owner who has horses in training at Lone Star Park near Dallas.

OK Horsemen Disaster Relief Funds Established
5/22/2013 9:56:22 AM  -  OQHRA & TRAO 

Posted: 5/21/13

In a joint statement released by the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO) and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association (OQHRA), the associations announced the creation of a benevolence account for horsemen impacted by the recent storms in the state.

Following is the joint statement: Our thoughts and prayers go out to everyone in Oklahoma following this horrific event. There are many horsemen who have been affected by this tragedy and have lost everything they own. Celestial Acres, which rents out stalls to multiple trainers, took a direct hit along with the highly publicized damage at the Orr Family Farm. Both horsemen’s organizations, along with Remington Park in Oklahoma City, are working together in coordinating relief to horsemen that have been affected by the storm.

Both offices have been encouraged by the outpouring of support and offers for help from across the country; it truly displays “horsemen helping horsemen.” Many of those horsemen have lost everything – horses, possessions, tack and equipment, and their homes. They have many needs that cannot be met by traditional social agencies.

The TRAO and the OQHRA will be jointly accepting donations for horsemen who were affected by this tragic event. All donations will be distributed directly to horsemen and their families that were affected by the storms in this area.

If you want to make a donation using a credit or debit card, please call OQHRA at 405-216-0440. Checks should be made payable to either TRAO Benevolence Fund or OQHRA Benevolence Fund and put 2013 Tornado on the memo line. Your donations may be sent to:

Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma
2620 NW Expressway; Suite A
Oklahoma City OK 73112
(405) 427-8753

Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association
P.O. Box 2907
Edmond, OK 73083
(405) 216-0440

We are still in the process of evaluating the need for additional help for these families and are working together with the Oklahoma racetracks to coordinate activities and support services for our racing community.

OK: Horsemen Suffer Heavy Losses in Oklahoma Tornado
5/22/2013 9:49:56 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: Updated on 05/21/2013 7:06 PM

The tornado that ripped through Moore, Okla., at almost 200 miles an hour Monday claimed not only the lives of more than 20 adults and children, but it also wiped out the Celestial Acres Training Center, home to both Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse operations, killing scores of horses.

The training center was in the direct path of the storm, bordering the southern part of Oklahoma City.

"This thing was a little over a mile wide and traveled on the ground 11 miles," said Betty Raper, who with her husband, Dee, operate Belle Mere Farm in nearby Norman, Okla., about three miles south of Moore. "It just gives you the chills."

Trainer Mark Lee had a small Thoroughbred operation at Celestial Acres at the time the storm hit Monday afternoon.

"I had 12 head, and they're all gone," Lee said Tuesday. Lee lives about six miles from Celestial Acres.

"I showed up a few minutes after it happened," he said. "There were mangled horses everywhere. I had one guy in the barn trying to let horses go when it hit. He survived. He dug himself out of the rubble. I have no idea how."

Lee said that 20 to 25 horses in a barn on the north side of the training center survived. He said that the structure simply had its roof torn off and that the animals were okay.

Randy Weidner, a trainer racing Quarter Horses at nearby Remington Park in Oklahoma City, was not as fortunate. The horses he had stabled at Celestial Acres were victims of the storm, according to Betty Raper.

"I know of one young man from Iowa that lost nine head, his truck, and his trailer," she said, referring to Weidner. "It was a very devastating situation for anyone that was there. From what I understand, he walked away with no injury. The clothes on his back is all he has today."

Celestial Acres Training Center is one of two businesses on a 160-acre tract of land owned by Glenn Orr and his son Tom, according to Tony Vann, a spokesman for the family. The other business is Orr Family Farm, a tourist destination featuring a petting zoo, trains, and a zip-line. The training center rents out stalls. Tom Orr races horses and has some runners based at Lone Star Park near Dallas.

Vann said there was no loss of human life on the Orr properties. The number of horses stabled at the facility and their status could not be confirmed, he said late Monday, but some trainers speculated there were at least 80 Thoroughbreds or Quarter Horses there. Raper said she heard that as many as 75 horses in the Moore area may have died.

Lee said that there are mare-and-foal farms bordering Celestial Acres, and he believed that most of those horses were victims of the storm. Lee said a large number of runners based at Celestial Acres were Quarter Horses competing at the Remington Park meet.

Remington canceled its final five races on Sunday afternoon when the storm system was building and severe-weather sirens began sounding in Oklahoma City.

"They were calling for possible tornado outbreaks at any time," said Remington spokesman Dale Day. "No one knew where the outbreak was going to begin. As it turned out, it didn’t hit our part of Oklahoma City."

Day said Remington planned to race as scheduled Friday.

Raper said that rain continued to pour down in the Moore and Norman areas Tuesday. She and Day said Moore was “sealed off” and exits serving the community off Interstate 35 had been blockaded.

"They’re recommending if you don’t have to travel I-35, to take alternate routes," Raper said. "There’s still a lot of debris, and emergency vehicles need to go in there."

Vann said some of the debris from the storm has been found as far north as Tulsa, Okla., about 100 miles from Moore. The storm system itself had extended south into the North Texas town of Denton as of Monday night, and by 2 p.m. on Tuesday, heavy rains and winds were pummeling communities surrounding Dallas/Fort Worth International Airport.

Charitable fund for horsemen

The organizations that represent Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse interests in Oklahoma have jointly established a charitable fund to assist horsemen affected by the tornado. Donations will go directly to horsemen, according to a statement distributed late Tuesday by the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association.

"There are many horsemen who have been affected by this tragedy and have lost everything they own," the statement said. "Both horsemen's organizations, along with Remington Park in Oklahoma City, are working together in coordinating relief to horsemen that have been affected by the storm."

Credit card and debit card donations can be made by calling the Quarter Horse association at (405) 216-0440. Checks can be made payable to the TRAO Benevolence Fund or the OQHRA Benevolence Fund, with the memo line to read 2013 Tornado. Donations can be sent to TRAO at 2620 NW Expressway, Suite A; Oklahoma City, Okla., 73112, or to the OQHRA, P.O. Box 2907, Edmond, Okla., 73083.

OK QH trainer suspended 20 years for 10 dermorphin positives
1/29/2013 10:10:12 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 01/25/2013 3:37PM

The Oklahoma Racing Commission has set penalties on the first dermorphin cases in the state, suspending trainer Roberto Sanchez-Munoz 100 years and fining him $100,000 for 10 different positives for the Class 1 drug found in horses he raced during the 2012 Quarter Horse meet at Remington Park. In addition, Munoz’s brother and assistant trainer, Alejandro Sanchez-Munoz, was suspended 20 years and fined $10,000.

Cody Kelley, an attorney representing the brothers, said through a staff member Friday that he did not have a comment on the case.

Remington’s board of stewards issued rulings in the Munoz cases in October, then referred the cases to the commission for penalties. The commission on Thursday upheld 12 of the 20 rulings against the men. They dismissed eight counts against Alejandro Sanchez-Munoz, 31, only holding him responsible for two of the horses because he owned those runners. The positives took place between April and May 2012. Purses for all of the races were ordered redistributed.

Roberto-Sanchez Munoz, 38, was fined $10,000 per positive and suspended 10 years for each count. The panel ordered that he serve 20 years, with the remaining 80 years suspended. The suspensions could begin as early as Feb. 21, if the men do not appeal the penalties.

“The next thing that happens is that the commission staff was instructed to prepare a preliminary order that will be reviewed by the commission at the Feb. 21 commission meeting,” said Tino Rieger, executive director of the Oklahoma Racing Commission. “Upon the order being signed, the penalties will be effective. There is some appeal time in the court system.”

Dermorphin is a highly powerful painkiller. During the stewards hearing in October, Dr. Steven Barker, director of the Equine Medication Surveillance Laboratory at Louisiana State University, testified that dermorphin is the most potent natural opiate peptide known, and that it is about 40 times more powerful than morphine.

The racing commissions in Louisiana, Nebraska, and New Mexico also have had dermorphin cases in the last year. Accurate testing for the drug is said to have first became available in April.

Ontario Report: Changes Ahead for Racing
10/31/2012 12:19:41 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 10/31/2012 10:23:28 AM Last Updated: 10/31/2012 11:29:00 AM

Cutting the number of Thoroughbred race dates in Ontario and reducing purses are some of the recommendations put forth by the government commissioned Horse Racing Transition Panel in a final report released to the public Oct. 30.

Based on the proposal, "A" level Thoroughbred racing, presumably at Woodbine, would see slight decreases in race dates and purses when compared with the other sectors of the racing industry. The panel has proposed a race meet of 160 days, down 3% from 2011 figures, with total purses of $64 million, a decrease of 14% when compared with the $74.4 million distributed in 2011.

"B" level Thoroughbred racing, on the other hand, would see only 30 days of racing compared with 78 days in 2011, with purses of $3 million, a decrease of 52% when compared with the $6.2 million distributed in 2011. With Fort Erie Racetrack still set to close this December, the proposal names Ajax Downs, now a Quarter Horse-only track, as a possible replacement track should Fort Erie not be able to operate live racing in 2013.

The panel, made up of three former provincial cabinet ministers and set up by the Ontario government to determine how best to move the province's horse racing industry forward after the cancellation of the slots-at-racetracks program, also recommends that purse distribution be tied to pari-mutuel handle to ensure the sustainability of the industry long-term.

The province's Standardbred racing industry would be the hardest hit, seeing race days cut by 54%, from 1,262 to 580, and purses reduced by approximately $95 million, a decrease of 60% from current levels.

"Today, the industry's economic engine is largely fueled by a revenue source unrelated to its core business, which is to provide a racing experience attractive to customers," the panel said in its report. "Under the proposed Sustainable Horse Racing Model, the size of purses and the number of race dates will be determined by the amount of pari-mutuel handle available.

"Racing opportunities will be able to increase or decrease in response to consumer demand."

The panel indicated it received a proposal from six racetracks throughout the province that would make up a racing alliance. The alliance would serve as a central racing secretariat that would be responsible for assigning race dates and purses, while also being responsible for the branding and marketing of the Ontario racing product.

The panel also acknowledged that government support would be necessary to transition the industry away from the slots program. Along with establishing a reserve fund for initial racetrack support, the panel also recommends that the government allow the horse racing industry to offer new gaming products like single-game sports wagering, horse racing-related lotteries, and Instant Racing at racetrack facilities.

"The products discussed do not yet exist in Ontario and, therefore, are not currently producing revenue for the government," the panel noted. "Moreover, it will take effort, resources, and expertise to develop them, which the horse racing industry is willing to provide."

Other recommendations included capping the amount of funding to the Horse Improvement Program and the Ontario Sires Stakes program at $30 million per year and monitoring any funding issued to the industry every three years against industry-wide metrics.

"It is essential to avoid repeating the mistakes of the slots-at-racetracks program, which turned over funds to the industry with no strings attached," the panel said. "Monitoring should be ongoing to ensure the investment is meeting public-policy objectives and delivering no more funds than necessary to do so."

The report did not reveal the amount of transitional funding the government should put into the industry, however.

"We feel strongly that publicly releasing some of the estimates, particularly sensitive financial information concerning the amount of public support required for racetracks, would not be in the public interest today," the panel said. "We advise that this information should be withheld until such time as the government and the industry have concluded their negotiations."

Responding to the final report, the Ontario Horse Racing Industry Association emphasized the need for negotiations to get under way immediately.

"While the panel's new Sustainable Horse Racing Model leaves many questions unanswered, OHRIA believes this is an opportunity for the industry to commence meaningful negotiations directly with government," the association said in a statement. "There are certainly elements of the model that need to be better understood, adjusted, and modified, but the panel has assured OHRIA that based on this model the government is prepared to enter into good faith negotiations with our industry.

"As our industry continues to crumble around us, OHRIA can't sufficiently state the urgency for these negotiations to commence immediately."

Remington Park: Called to Serve makes trip for Oklahoma Derby
9/27/2012 9:43:57 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 09/26/2012 4:30PM

Called to Serve will be trainer Peter Eurton’s first starter at Remington Park on Sunday when he runs in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, but the horse’s co-owner, Marc Ferrell, already knows the drill in Oklahoma City.

“He won this race in the past, a couple of years ago,” said Eurton. “The horse was Fiddlers Afleet.”

Fiddlers Afleet, who was trained by Mike Hushion, shipped in from New York to claim the 2009 Oklahoma Derby. Called to Serve, meanwhile, is based in Southern California, and he arrived in Oklahoma City on Tuesday morning. The ship was far simpler than the horse’s last start. Called to Serve had to make several connections to get to Mountaineer for the Grade 2 West Virginia Derby, an Aug. 4 race in which he finished third by a length.

“His last race, he had like a 21-hour day out of San Diego to get there,” said Eurton. “It was a tough, tough trip for him, and he handled it very well. [But] it’s why we didn’t want to come back to any other spots [too quickly]. It discouraged us from going to Louisiana [for the Super Derby on Sept. 8], in only four or five weeks. I thought he needed more time.”

Called to Serve’s journey to Mountaineer included a five-hour flight to Lexington, Ky., and an extended van ride to Chester, W.Va. Conversely, his flight to Oklahoma City took 2 1/2 hours, Eurton said, followed by a 10-minute van ride to Remington.

Called to Serve, who also races for Vinka Ferrell, will be seeking his first stakes win in the Oklahoma Derby. He is expected to face at least eight others including Prospective, the Grade 3 Ohio Derby winner who arrived from Kentucky at about 12:45 p.m. Wednesday, according to Remington’s stakes coordinator, Don Thompson. Thompson said others expected for the Oklahoma Derby are Willy Beamin, Speightscity, Politicallycorrect, Diamond Joe, Daddy Nose Best, Master Rick, and Ted’s Folly.

Eurton, who last year won a pair of Grade 1 races in Southern California with the popular filly Weemissfrankie, said Daniel Centeno has the mount on Called to Serve. Centeno rode the horse in the West Virginia Derby, when Called to Serve rallied from 11 lengths back and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 92. Bourbon Courage, who edged him by a half-length for second, came back in his next start to win the Super Derby.

OK - Inaugural Thoroughbred Sale At Heritage Place
8/20/2012 10:35:39 AM  -  OK Breeders 

Posted: August 15, 2012

Heritage Place is pleased to announce the Inaugural Thoroughbred Mixed Sale to be conducted Saturday, December 8, 2012 at Heritage Place in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. The sale will be available to Thoroughbreds only and for horses of all ages, including a paddock-type offering of racehorses currently in training.

The sale is being held the closing weekend of the Remington Park Fall Meet and in conjunction with the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma's annual meeting. The catalog entry fee is $500 per horse and commission is 5% with a minimum of $100.

Catalog deadline is November 13, 2012.

The sale is being offered with the support and endorsement of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and should be an exciting weekend for all Thoroughbred breeders, owners and trainers. More details and consignment forms will be announced soon please check our website www.heritageplace.com or TRAO's website www.traoracing.com for updates.

Will Rogers Meet Again Shows Huge Gains
5/19/2012 11:21:32 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2012 

The 2012 Thoroughbred season has gotten off to a quick start in Oklahoma. The Will Rogers Downs meet in Claremore, Oklahoma has continued its unbelievable success again for another year. All-sources handle is up again for the third straight year. The largest portion of the continued upswing is its export signal. Export was up another 60 percent in 2012, for a three-year gain of approximately 250 percent.

The support shown to the meet at Will Rogers Downs by all of our export partners is fantastic. Especially the commitments by Elite Turf, Racing and Gaming Services, and TVG have been phenomenal. A big thank you is owed to their customers for their participation at Will Rogers Downs, and it is very much appreciated. With a daily average purse distribution teetering on going over the $150,000 per day mark, the northeast Oklahoma racetrack is definitely on the move forward.

Upcoming Remington Park Meet
5/19/2012 11:20:21 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2012 

The 2012 Remington Park meet will kick off the fall racing season in Oklahoma on August 10. The 2012 Thoroughbred meet will feature a daily purse distribution of $220,000 per day, and the expectation is for the Remington Park meet to continue its growth, as well.

Several prominent sweepstakes events will highlight this year’s meet, including the $1 million Oklahoma Classics Day, the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby, and the closing day star-studded $300,000 Springboard Mile for two-year-olds.

Oklahoma Lowers Clenbuterol Limits for Racehorses
4/6/2012 9:55:53 AM  -  The Horse 

Posted: April 03 2012 • Article # 19824

At the March meeting of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) members of the voted to amend the current contraband rule regarding clenbuterol to read as follows:

Nor shall any person have in his/her possession within the enclosure the drug Clenbuterol other than in a form approved by the FDA, which approval currently allows the use of clenbuterol under two brand names: Ventipulmin Syrup and Aeropulmin Syrup. Possession within the enclosure of any form of clenbuterol other than the Ventipulmin Syrup and Aeropulmin Syrup, in their original container, the container in which the drug was distributed by its manufacturer, is prohibited.

Clenbuterol is a bronchodilator, and it is used in horses with respiratory problems to relax smooth muscles in the airway, causing the airway to dilate. It also stimulates the activity of the cilia in the trachea, assisting the process of eliminating mucus and microscopic debris. Recently, several racing jurisdictions have imposed new limits or bans on clenbuterol because, like all beta-2 agonist drugs, it has adrenergic (muscle building) effects and was essentially being used as a "replacement" for anabolic steroids.

The revised rule was adopted as both an emergency rule which will go into effect as soon as it is approved by Okla. Governor Mary Fallin and under permanent rulemaking. Possession by anyone within the enclosure will result in strong penalties according the discussion by Commissioners and staff during the meeting. Executive Director Constantine Rieger told horsemen at the meeting that the law enforcement division of the Commission will be vigilant in conducting random and unannounced searches in the barn area to seek out and eliminate contraband clenbuterol at all Oklahoma racetracks. The penalty for possession of contraband can be a suspension of up to one year, and a fine of up to $2,500.

Further action to discourage the illegal or inappropriate uses of lenbuterol include a reduction of the permitted level of Ventipulmin or Aeropulmin in post-race testing of racehorses. Effective April 10, 2012, the OHRC approved level will drop from 500 pg/mL to 275 pg/mL. This level will apply on that date to all breeds racing in Oklahoma.

Additionally, effective May 4, 2012, the approved level for Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas racing in Oklahoma will be further reduced to 25 pg/mL. The lower level for Quarter Horses was approved with a delayed implementation to provide up to 45 days for horses being treated in a manner permitted under the old 500 pg/ml level adequate time to withdraw those horses from the drug and allow the drug to clear a horses system completely once the use is discontinued. This is similar to the process used by the commission in eliminating the use of anabolic steriods in 2011.

Both the American Quarter Horse Association and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association supported a lower level for the Quarter Horse, Paint, and Appaloosas racing in Oklahoma and provided reasonable justification for the commission to approve a different level for those breed.

In other action keeping with the Commission's intention to keep Oklahoma racing free from influence of illegal and non-permitted medications, the rules regarding taking of samples were amended to provide for the track veterinarian to take samples for drug testing from catastrophically injured horses prior to administering any other drugs as required for the welfare of the injured horse. The amendments provide that while a trainer may witness the collection of samples in those situations, the track veterinarian can also identify witnesses from those present at the time the sample is drawn if the trainer is not immediately available.

A rule on labeling of medications was passed over as the horsemen and the commission staff agreed it needed more work, but the commissioners also approved an amendment to the Oklahoma Breeding Development Fund that will provide additional financial resources for equine research and the necropsy program.

Live racing returns to Will Rogers Downs
2/24/2012 11:16:03 AM  -  CherokeePhoenix.org 

Posted: 2/23/2012 8:20:27 AM

CLAREMORE, Okla. – Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs will open its horse racing season on March 5 and run it through May 19.

Coming off its most successful year in five years of operation, WRD officials said they believe they have a new equation to make 2012 even better.

The thoroughbred spring meet will run at 12:30 p.m. every Saturday, Monday and Tuesday. Each race day features 10 races.

In addition to a stakes schedule that features two new races bringing the total to eight, racing officials moved four of the stakes to Mondays and Tuesdays to benefit from a bigger worldwide simulcast audience.

“Our simulcast signal goes through the roof on weekdays,” Kelly Cathey, Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs racing secretary, said. “We are up to nearly 700 locations showing our races, including tracks in Europe, Mexico and Canada. The more tracks that show our races, the bigger the handle, which means more money for the horsemen and more money for us to reinvest into our track.”

Stakes races begin on April 9, with the sixth running of the Clem McSpadden Memorial Route 66 Stakes and the Wilma Mankiller Memorial Stakes. April 23-24 features the fourth running of the Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic Distaff Sprint and the TRAO Classic Sprint.

The second running of the Oklahoma Stallion Colts and Geldings Division Stakes and the Oklahoma Stallion Fillies Division Stakes run on May 5. Closing out the spring meet on May 19 are the inaugural Cherokee Nation Classic Cup and the RPDC Classic Distaff.

Inclement weather had postponed the start of the racing meet the last few years, so track officials chose to schedule this year’s start date in March. The extra time and lack of snow have provided workers an opportunity to prepare the track without being rushed or forced to wait for snow to melt.

“The horsemen say the track is in outstanding condition,” Cathey said. “The track is in the best shape it’s ever been since we opened. The mild winter has played a part, but Jake Wilson, our track superintendent, and all his guys have done a phenomenal job getting it ready for the spring meet.”

Will Rogers Downs earned more than $16 million in live racing, with $14 million coming in the spring. During the spring meet, 12 of 32 race days surpassed $500,000 in total wagering. On April 4, the track had a record one-day total of $958,163.

Cathey said with some of the stakes races moving to weekdays, this year could see multiple days that surpass last year’s one-day record total.

“If everything goes our way, I believe we’ll break $1 million more than once,” Cathey said. “We have a strong competitive field of horses and jockeys that are going to make our races really entertaining.”

Will Rogers Downs is located three miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For more information, visit cherokeestarrewards.com or call 918-283-8800.

Will Rogers Down Meet
2/21/2012 12:52:06 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2012 

Racing will resume in Oklahoma on March 5 at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma. The 2012 meet will be conducted three days per week on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, with a first post at 12:30 p.m. (Central Time).

The meet at Will Rogers Downs has grown tremendously over the last two years. The daily average purse distribution will top $150,000 per day for the second straight year.

The 32-day meet will conclude on Preakness Day, the third Saturday in May. In addition for 2012, the highlighted Oklahoma Classics stakes program for registered Oklahoma-bred horses has expanded to include Will Rogers Downs. The now statewide Oklahoma Classics program will consist of 12 stakes (statewide) comprising in excess of $1,300,000 available for the Oklahoma-bred industry in purses and breeder awards.

Piroplasmosis Testing Requirement Dropped
2/21/2012 12:51:06 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2012 

Effective immediately as January 26, 2012, Piroplasmosis testing is no longer required for a horse to enter a racetrack in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Horseracing Commission retracted its directive from 2010 requiring the testing at its meeting in January.

HBPA Office Relocates
2/21/2012 12:50:20 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2012 

Our offices have relocated from Remington Park. The new permanent home office of the Oklahoma HBPA is conveniently located five miles from Remington Park in Oklahoma City. We will still have on-site personnel at the tracks when a live meet is being conducted.

Our new contact information is as follows: Oklahoma HBPA/Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, 2620 Northwest Expressway, Suite A, Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73112, (405) 427-8753 (office), (405) 427-7099 (fax), website: www.traoracing.com.

Remington Park Reduces Trifecta Takeout, Drops Quinella
2/2/2012 12:52:24 PM  -  Paulick Report 

Posted: 02.01.2012

4:20pm In an effort to share prosperity, Remington Park will offer a lower takeout rate on trifecta wagering. The reduction will take place during the 2012 American Quarter Horse Meeting & Mixed-breed Season which runs March 2 thru Memorial Day on May 28. The trifecta wager takeout percentage will drop from its current 24% rate to that of just 21%. The lower rate will become one of the lowest in North America for a trifecta wager, which challenges horseplayers to correctly select the top three race finishers in order. “We want to reward the people who play the Remington Park races,” said Scott Wells, Remington Park president and general manager. “A reduction in the takeout rate on one of our most popular exotic wagers is also intended to attract more national attention to the quality of our racing product.” The trifecta wager, along with the exacta wager (top two race finishers in order), have comprised the top pair of wagers played by fans year after year at Remington Park. Average race field size at Remington Park is consistently near 10 horses. The field size combined with the lower takeout rate makes the Remington Park trifecta a very enticing play. Remington Park will reduce its overall wagering menu by one bet this year as the quinella will be cut from the lineup. The quinella challenges players to select the top two race finishers in any order. The 2012 American Quarter Horse & Mixed-breed Season at Remington Park will begin on Friday, March 2 as Opening Weekend continues thru Sunday, March 4. Scheduled post times for the Opening Weekend programs will be 6pm on Friday and Saturday, March 2 and 3 with afternoon racing on Sunday, March 4 at 1:30pm. Open daily at 10am for casino gaming and simulcast racing, Remington Park also features the Bricktown Brewery on the casino floor. Admission, general parking and valet parking are always free at Remington Park.

OK: Tulsa Fair Meadows could lose live horse racing
1/30/2012 9:48:54 AM  -  Tulsa World 

Posted: Saturday, January 28, 2012

Nearly a quarter century of live horse racing at Fair Meadows Racetrack at Expo Square could come to an end as early as this summer.

Ron Shotts, racing director at Fair Meadows, said Friday that he has spoken with officials from Will Rogers Downs in Claremore about holding the races there.

Shotts is also pushing for passage of Senate Bill 1601, which would allow Fair Meadows to hold its live races at another track.

"Claremore is willing to run the races for us, and with our facilities and the shape it is in, we can't spend a lot of money" fixing it, Shotts said.

Closing the live meet would free up the $10 million Super Duty Barn for use by the horse shows that come to Expo Square during the summer, he said.

"Our horse shows in the summer are getting so big they need more space," Shotts said. "Basically, it is something we have been talking about for a few years.

"Instead of us having to spend a lot more money on our facility and build another barn, we would run the races in Claremore."

Fair Meadows' live meet has been a losing proposition for the fairgrounds for years. During the past six years, the 34-day meet, held in June and July, has lost at least $695,000 annually. This year it lost more than $800,000.

Shotts said holding Fair Meadows' live races at Will Rogers Downs won't necessarily plug that hole.

"It's nothing to do with the loss of money, because we are still going to have to pay them (Will Rogers Downs) to hold the races," he said, adding that details of the arrangement have not been worked out.

But Mark Andrus, president and CEO of Expo Square, said money is a factor because refurbishing the run-down local facility would take a significant investment. Replacing the grandstand, for example, would cost $14 million, Andrus said.

Andrus noted that several horse trainers and horse owners have complained about the condition of the track's grandstand and the lack of eating facilities and other amenities.

"With the dramatic decline in horse racing attendance and betting handles (money waged), and therefore the decline in revenues we have experienced, I am concerned about our live race expenses," Andrus said.

Fair Meadows live racing meet is central to the fairgrounds' overall financial well-being. Each year, the track receives a minimum of $2 million as part of a 15-year agreement that Fair Meadows signed with three Tulsa-area Indian tribes in 2005.

The agreement calls for Fair Meadows to receive the money from the tribes in lieu of installing gambling machines at the racetrack. As part of the agreement, Fair Meadows is required to run at least 400 live races a year.

The $2 million from the tribes, coupled with profits from the track's simulcast facility, more than offsets the live racing losses that have become a part of doing business at Fair Meadows.

Shotts and Andrus said Fair Meadows would still receive the $2 million annually if its live races were held at Will Rogers Downs. They said there are no plans to close the local track's simulcast facility.

"Expo Square will certainly do nothing that would jeopardize that revenue stream from the Indian compact," Andrus said.

Shotts said about 20 seasonal employees would lose their jobs if the live meet ends but that the closing would not affect any full-time employees.

He said the move to end live horse racing at Fair Meadows has been made in consultation with and with support from the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission and the state's quarter horse and thoroughbred associations.

The Tulsa World was unable to contact representatives of those organizations Friday night.

The fate of Senate Bill 1601 won't be known until the Legislature convenes next month. However, Shotts said that if the bill is approved with an emergency clause, it could take effect in time to hold Fair Meadows' live races at Will Rogers Downs this year.

"If not, it would be next year," he said.

In 1982, 58 percent of Oklahoma voters approved State Question 553, legalizing pari-mutuel racing.

Oklahoma currently has three tracks that hold live horse races: Fair Meadows, Will Rogers Downs and Remington Park, which is in Oklahoma City. Fair Meadows opened in 1989.

Oklahoma Classics
11/21/2011 5:46:11 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

The Thoroughbred industry in Oklahoma continues its commitment to make Oklahoma the place to race, breed, and own Thoroughbreds in the mid-south.

The 19th running of the Oklahoma Classics was conducted on October 28 at Remington Park. The ten-race card dedicated solely to the Oklahoma-bred horse was comprised of eight stakes races and two starter allowance races. The stakes portion of the program provided a gross distribution to Accredited Oklahoma-bred horses in excess of $1.1 million dollars.

The Oklahoma Classics has become a premier state-bred day, rivaling the likes of the Maryland Million Day (Maryland), Red Letter Day (Illinois), and other prominent days nationally that spotlight their state's best.

Remington Park Attendance, Handle Up
11/21/2011 5:45:00 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

The 2011 Remington Park meet has continued its upward trend from 2010. On-track handle and attendance are up, along with the export handle when compared to the 2010 meet, which was a record setter.

Will Rogers 2012 Meet
11/21/2011 5:44:15 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

While the 2012 racing dates have yet to be finalized, Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma will kick off the year approximately on March 5, 2012 and conclude its 32-day meet on Preakness Day. Estimations for the daily purse distribution for the meet should exceed $145,000 per day.

Stallion Stakes Foal Nominations Due January 15
11/21/2011 5:43:30 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2011 

Nominations for the foals of 2011 that have been sired by eligible stallions for the 2013 Stallions Stakes will be due on January 15, 2012. Nominations made on or before the January 15, 2012 deadline will be $150.

Congrats to Oklahoma HBPA Prez Donnie K. Von Hemel on his BCup Victory
11/8/2011 10:04:47 AM  -  National HBPA Blog 

Posted: 11/8/2011

The National HBPA's officers, staff, and Board of Directors would like to congratulate Oklahoma HBPA President and trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel for his stirring victory with Caleb's Posse in the $1,000,000 Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile (Gr. I) at Churchill Downs on Saturday, November 4. It marked Von Hemel's first victory in a Breeders' Cup race.

Owned by Don McNeill and Everett Dobson, the three-year-old Caleb's Posse put in his customary strong late rally in the Breeders' Cup Dirt Mile and swept by the field before drawing off for an impressive four-length score over Preakness (Gr. I) winner Shackleford in 1:34.59.

Von Hemel said after the race, "It’s the biggest (victory of my career), no doubt; a million dollar race on Breeders’ Cup day. If my chest could swell any bigger, it probably wouldn’t fit here. I’m so proud of him, he’s such a neat little horse, and he comes to run on those one-turn races, man."

Caleb’s Posse added the Dirt Mile to 2011 victories in the King’s Bishop (Gr. I), Amsterdam (Gr. II), and Ohio Derby (Gr. III), as well as the listed Smarty Jones Stakes. This year, the son of Posse has five victories, one second and one third in 10 starts and earnings of $1,030,909.

With his sprint and route victories, Caleb's Posse is a candidate for the Eclipse awards for both top sprinter and top three-year-old male.

Ohio Racetracks to Get VLTs
8/22/2011 12:07:54 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2011 

This summer, Governor Kasich’s administration entered into an agreement with both Penn National Gaming, Inc. and Rock Ohio Caesars LLC. The agreement, which calls for both of those corporations to pay an additional $110 million in fees to the state of Ohio for their stand-alone casinos over the next ten years, also provided provisions for Ohio’s seven commercial racetracks to receive video lottery terminals (VLTs).

The tracks will each be charged a $50 million dollar licensing fee payable in increments, with $10 million due upon application for a VLT license, $15 million due upon the beginning of VLT sales, and $25 million due one year from the beginning of VLT sales at that track.

Each track will be required to make a capital investment of “no more than $150 million,” with the exact amounts to be set by the Ohio Lottery Commission.

The tracks will be eligible to receive a commission of “no more than 66.5 percent” of gross VLT terminal revenue and, most importantly to horsemen, are required to reach an agreement with the horsemen regarding VLT revenue sharing with the horse racing industry prior to VLT sales starting. In the absence of such agreement, the state has reserved the right to set the percentage of VLT revenues that the racing industry will receive.

As of press time for this magazine, several meetings have taken place between representatives of the seven track operators, as well as the Ohio Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association and the Ohio Harness Horsemen’s Association (OHHA) in an effort to reach agreement on VLT revenue sharing. Progress is being made towards an agreement, and more negotiating sessions have been scheduled.

The Ohio HBPA seeks an agreement whereby Ohio’s horsemen are placed on a level playing field with the horsemen in surrounding states such as Pennsylvania, West Virginia, and Indiana, which have already passed similar expanded gaming legislation.

Language implementing VLTs at the tracks was included in HB 277, which Governor Kasich signed into law in late July. HB 277 also changed the state’s existing law to allow the Ohio State Racing Commission to hold hearings and make the ultimate determination as to whether a track or tracks can relocate in the state.

Penn National has been public in its desire to move both of its existing tracks – Beulah Park and harness track Raceway Park – from their current locations in Grove City and Toledo, respectively, to the Dayton and Youngstown areas. Lebanon Raceway is currently located on fairgrounds property owned by Warren County and will need to be relocated in order to operate video lottery terminals. It has also been widely rumored that Thistledown is considering a move to the Akron area.

Several of the other tracks have indicated that they will fight any proposed movement of the existing tracks. It is anticipated that decisions regarding possible track movements will be made within the next six to nine months.

The Ohio Lottery Commission, as well as the Ohio State Racing Commission, will be promulgating rules regarding the implementation of VLTs at the tracks over the next several months. Governor Kasich’s administration has indicated that it anticipates temporary facilities will be built to house VLTs at many of the tracks while permanent facilities are being built. Pending legal challenges, VLT operations could begin at the tracks by late next spring.

The Ohio HBPA will keep its members informed on any new developments on these issues at our membership meetings held monthly at each of our tracks during their racing seasons, as well as on our website at www.Ohio-HBPA.com.

Remington Park Season Underway
8/22/2011 12:04:57 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2011 

The final leg of the 2011 Oklahoma racing season got underway on August 18 as Remington Park opened its Thoroughbred meet. The 67-day Remington Park meet will run through December 10, with racing being conducted mostly on a four-day-a-week schedule, Wednesdays through Saturdays. The highlights of the meet will include the $1.1 million Oklahoma Classics for registered Oklahoma-bred horses and the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby.

Starting with the foals of 2009, all registered Oklahoma-bred Thoroughbred horses are eligible for the $1.1 million Oklahoma Classics races. The famed Oklahoma-bred day was boosted dramatically in 2010 by our partnership with Native American tribes and their respective OTB locations. Our partnership has continued its growth trend, and in 2012 there will be additional Classics held at Will Rogers Downs in the spring. The estimated gross available Classics money for 2012 statewide will approach $1.4 million.

TRAO Now Official State Breed Representative
8/22/2011 12:03:49 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2011 

The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO) has added the duty of being the official breed representative in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association has historically been the breed representative, but in an effort to be one united voice within the industry, the TRAO will be that voice.

Richard McNaughton Passes Away
8/22/2011 12:02:54 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2011 

The Oklahoma HBPA is saddened by the loss of Richard McNaughton. Richard was a lifelong horsemen, and he will be missed.

Visit Our Website
8/22/2011 12:02:11 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2011 

To stay up to date on the latest news and information in the Oklahoma horse racing industry, visit our website at www.traoracing.com.

Oklahoma Continues to Buck National Wagering Trends
5/21/2011 9:50:35 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2011 

Thoroughbred racing in Oklahoma has continued to oppose national wagering trends. Coming off the extremely successful 2010 Remington Park Thoroughbred meet, Will Rogers Downs recently concluded the most successful meet in its history. On-track live handle showed an impressive 32 percent increase, while export wagering increased by a remarkable 70 percent.

The Oklahoma HBPA believes wholly these increases are for several reasons including; outstanding participation by the horsemen in the entry box, which increases field size, which generates more handle. In addition, the pari-mutuel success shows what can and will happen when track management and the horsemen work together to promote the product.

The Oklahoma HBPA would like to thank not only our track partner, but we would also like to thank all of our export simulcast partners. We appreciate your business.

Will Rogers Overnight Purses and Oklahoma-Bred Incentives Increased
5/21/2011 9:49:20 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2011 

The recent success at Will Rogers Downs was passed on to our members. The Oklahoma-bred distribution was increased by 10 percent, and the overnight distribution increased by five percent. These increases went into effect for the final two-thirds of the meeting.

Fair Meadows Meet
5/21/2011 9:48:16 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2011 

Fair Meadows Tulsa is the next stop on the 2011 Oklahoma racing calendar. The mixed breed fair will conduct a 34-day meet, averaging five Thoroughbred races per day. Racing will be conducted four nights a week, Thursdays through Sundays.

Remington Meet Set to Open August 18
5/21/2011 9:47:32 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2011 

Looking forward in 2011, Remington Park will open its Thoroughbred meet on August 18. The highlights will include the $1,000,000 Oklahoma Classics Day for Oklahoma-bred horses on October 28, the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on October 16, and the $300,000 Remington Springboard Mile for two year-olds on closing day, December 10. There will be a total of 28 sweepstakes at Remington Park in 2011 for both open and Oklahoma-bred horses.

Will Rogers Downs: Two stakes for Oklahoma-breds highlight program
4/8/2011 11:34:06 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

04/07/2011 4:55PM

A pair of six-furlong races for Oklahoma-breds highlight the Saturday program at Will Rogers, with Hollywood Ice seeking his first stakes win in the $50,000 Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association Classic and Miss Natalie to start as part of a favored entry in the $50,000 Cherokee Casino Classic.

Both races are for 3-year-olds and upward.

Hollywood Ice is returning to stakes competition after finishing third in an open-company Will Rogers allowance March 19. He rallied from next to last in the 5 1/2-furlong race, which went in a quick 1:03.20. Kari Craddock, who is winning with 40 percent of her starters at Will Rogers, trains Hollywood Ice for Hal Browning. Hollywood Ice will be ridden by Chris Landeros.

The chief threat might be Specialfite, the winner of the $113,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Sprint in October.

Miss Natalie is also returning to the statebred ranks after missing by three-quarters of a length last out in a first-level allowance at Remington Park. The winner of that race, Gleaming, has since gone on to become stakes-placed at Oaklawn. Lyndie Wade will ride Miss Natalie trainer Joe Offolter.

Remington Bolts State Horse Industry Forward
4/5/2011 12:04:04 PM  -  Tulsa World 

Posted: 4/5/2011

WHEN YOU turn back the clock and look at the goals of the State Racing Act when it was passed, one of them was to make horse racing a viable industry in this state, giving thousands of Okies jobs they could rely on from year to year.

Remington Park in Oklahoma City has taken another step forward this year to make that dream come true.

On Saturday night and Sunday afternoon, Remington Park has carded more than 200 quarter horses, all 2-year-olds, trying to find a spot in the richest state-bred race in the country. That's right. Not the state, but the entire nation.

The fastest five quarter horses from 12 trials on Saturday and the five quickest on Sunday from the same amount of races will make up the finalists for the $780,000 Remington Park Futurity on April 16. Another $100,000 has been set aside for a consolation stakes race for those who do not qualify for the finals. That will be called the Remington Park Juvenile on the same night as the finals. The 24 trials scheduled for this weekend are all listed with $15,000 purses. So the final tally for these Oklahoma-bred quarter horses for this series is $1 million.

Don't think purses like this tempt horsemen from this state to keep their dams (mother horses) home to foal their babies? Think again.

"We should all be very proud of these races," said Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association. "This is one of the finest things we've done for Oklahoma racing. It exemplifies the goal of the State Racing Act to encourage the breeding and racing of horses in Oklahoma."

Remington Park president and general manager Scott Wells agrees whole-heartedly.

"The evening of the Remington Park Futurity will be one of the most important nights of horse racing in the history of the state of Oklahoma," he said. "Many of the sport's next superstars will compete on this special night which by all indications will continue to grow in coming years."

The April 16 night of racing also will include the $280,000 Remington Park Derby for 3-year-old quarter horses, the Grade 2 $50,000 Bob Moore Memorial, the $30,000 Mister Lewie Memorial for paints and appaloosas, the $28,000 Laico Bird Handicap and the $28,000 Lady Bugs Moon Handicap.

If the thoroughbred breed is more to your liking there is plenty to get excited about this weekend as well. The Grade 1 $1 million Florida Derby will be run on Sunday with the top horses in that race making their next stop in the Kentucky Derby on the first Saturday in May.

Soldat and Dialed In are the two horses to beat in the Florida Derby.

Dialed in is a horse that will get a lot of play simply because he is prepping for the Kentucky Derby with a trainer who has won the run for the roses twice. Nick Zito won the 1991 Kentucky Derby with Strike the Gold and the 1994 version with Go for Gin.

He sends out Dialed In, a son of former Horse of the Year, Mineshaft, to take on the 9-5 favorite Soldat and six other 3-year- old horses that are not out of the question as upset possibilities.

The one fact that you have to love about Dialed In for the Kentucky Derby, if he makes it to that venue, is that he broke his maiden at Louisville's Churchill Downs, home of the Derby, as a 2- year-old, coming from last to first.

It's the same reasoning that gives him a shot in today's Florida Derby as well. He recently won the Holy Bull Stakes over this same Gulfstream Park racetrack where the Florida Derby will be run today.

Zito, being the kind of conditioner who thinks outside the box at the long-range goals, put Dialed In up against older horses in his last race. This is a move that is virtually unheard of for 3-year- olds at this time of year and he ran a good race but was beaten. Now he is back on the Derby trail and could win this with his best.

A couple of longshots that need to be considered are Bowman's Causeway (20-1), who was nominated this week for the Kentucky Derby for a $6,000 late fee, and Flashpoint (6-1) who could steal this race on the lead from the outside.

NOTE - 2010 Horse of the Year, Zenyatta, lost her baby this week, but her connections say they will breed her again to Bernardini. This is not uncommon in first-time horse mommas.

Live Racing Pushed Back Due to Weather
2/18/2011 12:52:46 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

The 2011 Thoroughbred racing season in Oklahoma has begun, finally. The racing calendar was supposed to commence on February 21, but record February snowfall in Oklahoma pushed opening day back two full weeks.

Thirty-plus inches of snow within eight days in Claremore, Oklahoma, forced Will Rogers Downs to purchase a massive snow blower. Will Rogers Downs’ management made the decision to delay the start of the meet in an attempt to assist horsemen in having ample time to have horses fit enough to enter and run.

Will Rogers Downs will conduct live racing three days a week on Mondays, Tuesdays, and Saturdays, with a 12:30 p.m. daily first post time.

Equine Savings Offering Discounts to Members
2/18/2011 12:51:47 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma is pleased to announce its new relationship with the Equine Savings Program. This program will offer price reductions on major purchases up to 25 percent.

The owner of this newly formed company is Steve Andersen. Andersen has been a longtime supporter of horsemen’s groups and their members.

Visit the Equine Savings website at: www.equinesavings.com to find out more about the discounts available to you.

Visit Our New Website
2/18/2011 12:50:06 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

When you have the opportunity, please look at the new website for the association at www.traoracing.com.

2011 Live Thoroughbred Race Dates in Oklahoma
2/18/2011 12:38:40 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2011 

The 2011 Thoroughbred racing calendar for Oklahoma is as follows:

Will Rogers Downs – March 7 through May 21

Fair Meadows Tulsa – June 2 through July 23

Remington Park – August 17 through December 10

Remington Park Bucks Trends and Shows Increases
12/2/2010 11:08:44 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2010 

Through mid-November, Remington Park has completely resisted the unfortunate national trends in regards to handle and attendance. Compared with the same number of live days in 2009, export handle has increased 66 percent, on-track handle increased 20 percent, and attendance has grown 12 percent.

The Oklahoma 2010 Thoroughbred season will conclude on December 11 at Remington Park.

Member Benefit: Scholarship Program
12/2/2010 11:07:50 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2010 

With larger purses in Oklahoma have come greater benefits for Oklahoma HBPA members. One advantage has been a scholarship program for financial assistance to attend a higher education learning facility.

The three (3) types of available scholarships in effect for Oklahoma HBPA members and their dependants include:

(5) General Scholarships - $1,500 each

(1) Oklahoma State University - $2,000 scholarship to veterinary medicine

(1) Industry Education Scholarship - $500

To review the specific criteria, please view the Oklahoma HBPA website at www.traoracing.com.

Rule Change for Claimed Horses
12/2/2010 11:06:46 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2010 

On October 21, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission approved the proposed amendments to Rule 325:30-1-17 (Entry of a claimed horse). This will allow a claimed horse to run back at the same claiming price for which the horse was claimed. The expected start date to the rule change is mid-2011, pending legislative approval.

2011 Thoroughbred Race Dates in Oklahoma
12/2/2010 11:05:58 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2010 

Will Rogers Downs (Claremore) – February 21 through May 7 (32 days)

Fair Meadows Tulsa (Tulsa) – June 2 through July 24 (34 days)

Remington Park (Oklahoma City) – August 17 through December 10 (67 days)

The Oklahoma HBPA would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Remington Park''''s thoroughbred horses win hearts before they win races
11/29/2010 2:34:02 PM  -  NewsOK.com 

Published: November 29, 2010

It takes the heart of a good horse — and it doesn't have to be a Secretariat — to win the heart of a racehorse trainer. Despite injuries, disappointments and excruciating hours, these horse trainers wouldn't consider doing anything else with their lives.

As the bay horse nuzzled Donnie Von Hemel's coat pocket, the horse trainer smiled.

“You've looking for peppermints, aren't you?” he said.

Remington Park's thoroughbred horses win hearts before they win races He's fortunate this wasn't the world's most famous horse, Secretariat, wanting a peppermint. A horse handler once accidentally got between Secretariat and a farm visitor holding a peppermint. Secretariat flipped his head and hit the groom in the nose. The poor fellow was knocked unconscious and had to be carried away on a stretcher.

Von Hemel fared better with his peppermint-seeking charge, Okie Ride. The 3-year-old stopped looking for a treat and stood quietly for a pat.

The moment was pleasant in another way for Remington Park's winningest thoroughbred racehorse trainer. He could have been nuzzling up to a computer, perhaps gritting his teeth over some company's finances. He'd really tried to ignore the horse fever that gallops through his bloodstream. The son of horse trainer Don Von Hemel, he even got a degree in accounting in an attempt to outrace the hold the horses had on him.

But the race horses won.

Now, at age 49, he can't even count the number of horses he has trained, though it must be more than 1,000. And yet, he can tell you about the maturity, quirks and favorite treats of the 40 horses he has in training at the track this season. Von Hemel is the track's all-time No. 1 trainer. The horses he has trained at Remington have won more than $13 million.

Aiming to please

Though few trainers ever get a shot at a horse like Secretariat — a creature that one pundit described as the kind of horse that makes grown men weep — Von Hemel admits to having his own personal favorite, though he won't name the horse. Perhaps surprisingly, his favorite animal wasn't the one that's earned the most money or won the most races.

“There's something to be said for the horse that gives its all, every time,” Von Hemel said.

“You really get a soft spot for those horses. They want to please you. They want to be a racehorse.”

That desire was a hallmark of Secretariat, whose owner is enjoying a film revival of the Triple Crown winner's career two decades after his death. Remington's biggest trainers say there was only one horse so far that made the covers of Times, Newsweek and Sports Illustrated. But they look for and sometimes find a measure of that kind of heart.

“You'll see glimpses of it in the morning but really until you run the horse (in races), you don't know,” said Roger Engel, 46, another top trainer at Remington, with racehorse earnings of more than $2 million.

“There's some, once the bell goes off (when the electric starting gate opens), they get into the competition of it,” Engel said.

“When they win, they'll know it. They know they're a big horse. There's no exact science to it. I've had little horses that were big horses.”

Beloved toddlers

Remington trainers typically reach the track barns about 4:30 a.m. or 5 a.m. The trainers, assistants, grooms and other hands feed the 1,200 to 1,300 horses three times a day, and seem to treat them like beloved toddlers. Then they'll saddle the horses so the exercisers can take them to the track for a few runs. Sometimes the riders take the horses into the paddock area so they'll learn to be quiet when they're saddled and paraded before the race crowd. Other times, they'll take the horses through the electric starting gate so they'll learn to make a clean break during the races.

The track closes to practice at 11 a.m. Horses and crew rest while the racetrack workers prepare the track for the races. The track has just increased the number of races to 11, so the last race begins around 10:30 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday.

After “walking the hots,” or cooling off the horses when they get off the track, the crew rubs down the horses and gets them bedded down in several feet of wood shavings. It's sometime after midnight before most horsemen and women grab some sleep, either in dormitories inside the barns or apartments off the track.

All in a day's work

It's not the thought that they're about to get handed the reins of the next Secretariat that drives these men and women to work countless hours with the horses. Trainer after trainer said it's the love of horses in whatever shape, color or level of quirkiness.

“When I get up in the morning, I'm doing exactly what I want to do. Ain't many people that can say that,” said Joe Offolter, smiling as he stood outside the track barn where he keeps 40 horses for training. The former union ironworker worked his way up from an unknown, starving trainer to the track's third highest all-time winner, with the horses he's trained earning more than $4 million to date.

A curved scar cuts across Offolter's forehead and chin, belying the Dibble horseman's gentle nature. Offolter, 51, said keys to success with horses include patience and an eagerness to learn from every horse.

It hasn't taken a Secretariat to teach Offolter his most memorable lessons. He once stopped by to check out a young race-bred horse that was more pet than horse. He got good and close. Suddenly, the horse reared and pawed him in the face.

“Usually, when you get hurt it's because the horse was scared,” he said.

Forty stitches to the face later, Offolter headed back home late at night after about a 250 mile round trip to pick up horses for training. But when he got home, his wife, Karen at first refused to let him in the house. His face had become so swollen from the pawing that she didn't recognize him.

But he said the injuries and disappointments are all in a day's work.

Even though there are more wrecks and no Secretariats waiting in wings for most horsemen on the track, Offolter, Engel and Von Hemel agreed that there's nothing quite like the horse world.

“How many people in the world can say you can actually make money in the horse world?” Von Hemel said. “Once you've been in it, it's hard not to be in it.”

Oklahoma approves dates for 2011 season
11/23/2010 3:32:54 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

11/22/2010 4:17PM

Remington Park in Oklahoma City will race its typical 67-date Thoroughbred meet in 2011 after the Oklahoma Racing Commission approved a racing calendar for the state’s tracks. Remington’s meet will open on Aug. 17 and continue through Dec. 10.

The current meet runs through Dec. 11.

Remington was also awarded a 50-date Quarter Horse meet from March 4 to May 30.

Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa was granted a 32-date Thoroughbred meet for next year, from Feb. 21-May 7. The track was also awarded a 28-date Quarter Horse meet from Sept. 9-Nov. 12. Fair Meadows in Tulsa received approval for a 34-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses from June 2 to July 23.

Fair Meadows also received conditional approval from the commission to tear down the south side of its grandstand, which is a portion of the facility that has not been used in years. The track will be making improvements to its entrance area.

◗ Remington has expanded to 11 races a card for the remainder of the meet after offering nine on weekdays and 10 on weekends. The track has also shifted its post to 5:30 p.m. Central, an hour earlier than usual, to accommodate the added races. The lone exception is Friday, when there will be a special day post of 1:30 p.m.

Remington Park Meet Underway
8/25/2010 12:24:46 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2010 

The Oklahoma fall Thoroughbred racing season at Remington Park kicked off on August 19 and will conclude on December 11. Racing will be conducted on a Wednesday through Saturday schedule except on Labor Day and a special Sunday card on October 10 to accommodate the Oklahoma Derby.

Highlights for the 2010 Remington Park racing season will include The Oklahoma Classics (Oklahoma-bred), worth an estimated $1.1 million in purses and breeders awards; the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby; and the $250,000 Springboard Mile for two year-olds. The Springboard Mile will be the final leg of a newly established three-race series for juveniles.

The Oklahoma HBPA is very excited about the 2010 Remington Park season. It will be our first meet with our new track operator. Global Gaming RP, LLC, a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, now as the owner-operator of Remington Park. Global Gaming RP, LLC has invested millions of dollars in upgrades to the facility, and more is on the way. Remington Park has a brand new look, and the horsemen and the patrons will certainly notice the improvements.

Reminder: Remington Entry Requirements
8/25/2010 12:23:32 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2010 

Just a reminder for all horsemen shipping to Remington Park – the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission requires that horses entering a racetrack in Oklahoma must have the following negative pirosplasmosis tests (EP): Theileria Equi and Babesia Caballi. These negative tests will be valid for 365 days, just as a coggins test. It is recommended that the test samples also include the tattoo number of the horse.

Scholarship Program Announced
8/25/2010 12:22:19 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2010 

The benevolence program of the Oklahoma HBPA is continuing to grow and expand. We have announced our first scholarship program. The scholarships are available to Oklahoma HBPA members and their dependents.

The annual $10,000 program is currently in effect. Please visit our website for further information.

Visit Our New Website
8/25/2010 12:21:29 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2010 

If you have the opportunity, please take a look at the new Oklahoma HBPA website, which can be found at www.traoracing.com or www.okhbpa.com.

Announcing the $1 Million Oklahoma Classics Day
5/31/2010 11:04:55 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2010 

The Oklahoma HBPA, in partnership with the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association, is pleased to announce the first $1 million day of Thoroughbred racing in Oklahoma. The Oklahoma Classics stakes day will run on either October 22 or 23 at Remington Park. Classics Day will consist of eight Oklahoma-bred stakes. The day will also include two starter handicap races for Classics eligible horses, bringing the estimated total available monies for distribution that day to $1.1 million.

This groundbreaking day in Oklahoma racing has been made possible through the relationships created with several of our Native American Tribal Off-Track Betting (OTB) locations throughout Oklahoma. Currently, there are five Tribal OTBs operating in Oklahoma encompassing four Native American Tribes: Chickasaw Nation, with locations in Norman and Thackerville; Eastern Shawnee Tribe, in Seneca; Kaw Nation, in Newkirk; and the Modoc Tribe, in Miami. In addition, the Cherokee Nation has begun work on its OTB locations and will be operational in the summer of 2010, with locations most likely in Sallisaw and West Siloam Springs. These partnerships created will continue the growth trend for the Thoroughbred industry in Oklahoma.

Summer Racing Underway at Tulsa
5/31/2010 11:03:29 AM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2010 

The summer racing season in Oklahoma has kicked off in Tulsa. Fair Meadows at Tulsa began its 2010 racing season on June 3 and will run through July 25. Fair Meadows Tulsa will be a mixed breed meet and will average five Thoroughbred races per day. Live racing is conducted on Thursdays through Sundays.

Attn: Oklahoma Horsemen, New Shipping Restrictions
5/21/2010 1:55:09 PM  -  Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission 

Posted: 5/21/2010

Attached are tremendously important updates that concern all Oklahoma horsemen transporting and racing horses at Oklahoma racetracks.

• The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) upon advice from the Oklahoma Department of Agriculture has instituted an OHRC Directive effective essentially for thoroughbreds July 19, 2010. All horses entering an Oklahoma racetrack must have a negative Equine Piroplasmosis (EP) test to enter the stable area. The OHRC Directive will go into effect August 1, 2010, but Remington Park will require the negative tests commencing upon the opening of their stable area. The negative tests required are as follows; Theileria Equi & Babesia Caballi These negative tests will be valid for 365 days, just as a Coggins test. (it is recommended that the test samples also include the tattoo number of the horse) Please contact your practicing veterinarian or the OHRC if you have any questions. These requirements are in effect for all horses entering a racetrack. This will include stable ponies. It was reported by the OHRC that both Louisiana and Texas will be adopting similar testing standards in the near future. Currently, Colorado and New Mexico have testing requirements in place.

• Oklahoma racetracks will begin enforcing immediately the following rules; All horses entering a racetrack from outside the State of Oklahoma will be required to have a current Health Certificate (written within 30 days) and current negative Coggins test for the horses arriving. The Health Certificate must have the correct departing and arriving location. This long standing requirement is for horses traveling Inter-State only.

• All horses being transported within (Intra-State) the State of Oklahoma are NOT required to have a Health Certificate. But, they are required to have at minimum, a copy of the horses’ current negative Coggins test. This is a long standing law, and is currently being enforced by law enforcement. All horses arriving at the stable gate will have to have a copy of their current negative Coggins test with them. Telling stable security that the Coggins is in the Racing Office will NOT work. A copy of the negative Coggins test MUST accompany the horse(s) at the stable gate.

THE ABOVE CRITERIA MUST BE MET FOR THE HORSE(S) TO ENTER AN OKLAHOMA RACETRACK

For further information, please contact the following:

Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission www.ohrc.org
Dr. Rudy Garrison

Oklahoma Department of Agriculture www.oda.state.ok.us
Dr. Becky Brewer-Walker

Remington Park: Jockey, 68, hurt in accident
5/18/2010 4:38:01 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 5/17/2010, 6:06 pm

Jockey Roy Brooks, who at 68 is the second oldest jockey riding in North America, sustained a broken pelvis and torn urethra in an accident Saturday night at Remington Park in Oklahoma City. Brooks was injured behind the starting gate when his mount in a trial race for the Graham Paint and Appaloosa Futurity fell and rolled over Brooks.

Brooks underwent surgery at the University of Oklahoma Medical Center and on Sunday was putting some weight on his legs, according to his son, jockey Jimmy Brooks. Roy Brooks is expected to spend the remainder of the week at the university's hospital.

Roy Brooks is ninth in the standings at Remington, which is conducting a meet for Quarter Horses. According to a Remington release, Brooks is the second-oldest jockey competing in North America behind Richard Rettele, who had two mounts Saturday at Indiana Downs in his first starts of 2010.

Brooks, a winner of 14 races from 124 starts this meet, is a member of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Remington.

Remington opening meet with 12 races
3/8/2010 10:24:09 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 3/3/2010, 5:13 pm

Remington Park's first meet under new owner Global Gaming, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation, will get started Friday night with a 12-race card of trials for Quarter Horses. The 50-date season will run through May 31.

Global Gaming purchased Remington and its casino from Magna Entertainment Corp. for $80.25 million last year, with the deal receiving final approval from the Oklahoma Racing Commission in December. Since the new ownership has taken over, there have been improvements made to the grandstand, among them an opened-up track-level area to create more room for patrons.

"Fans will notice a difference when they walk in," said Remington's announcer, Dale Day.

Remington on Thursday was to unveil a life-size bronze statue of retired trainer Jack Brooks in its paddock area. He is an eight-time winner of the All American Futurity. The statue is part of the track's Hall of Fame.

Remington will offer 28 stakes worth $4.4 million during its Quarter Horse meet. The richest is the Grade 1, $1 million-estimated Heritage Place Futurity on May 29. The Grade 1, $750,000-estimated Remington Park Futurity is April 17.

Other top stakes include the Grade 1, $250,000 Remington Park Championship on May 29, a race in which the winner will receive a berth into the Grade 1 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos in December.

Purses at the meet are projected to average $265,000 a day.

There will be a special early first post of 5:30 p.m. to accommodate all the trials on Friday.

Thoroughbred Racing Season Underway
3/4/2010 5:40:36 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2010 

The 2010 Oklahoma Thoroughbred racing season got underway on Saturday, March 6 at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma. There will be 133 Thoroughbred race days in 2010, with an estimated 1,100 races. The 2010 Thoroughbred racing schedule will principally be as follows:

Will Rogers Downs – March 6 through May 15 (32 days, racing Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays) – www.cherokeestarrewards.com/casinos/ willrogersdowns

Fair Meadows Tulsa – June 3 through July 25 (34 days, racing Thursdays, Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays) – www.exposquare.com/fm

Remington Park – August 20 through December 12 (67 days, racing Wednesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays) – www.remingtonpark.com

Global Gaming Now Operating Remington Park
3/4/2010 5:38:57 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2010 

The Oklahoma HBPA is welcoming a new track partner in 2010. Global Gaming RP, LLC is now the owner/operator of Remington Park. Global Gaming RP, LLC, is a subsidiary of the Chickasaw Nation.

Global Gaming RP took over operations of Remington Park on January 1 and has hit the ground running. Per statute, Remington Park was allowed to activate 50 additional electronic games on the first of this year. Our new partner was proactive and had the games in place and commenced operation of them at the stroke of midnight on the first of the year. That advanced planning has brought the total number of games at Remington Park to 750 and will further enhance our purse distribution in the future.

Benevolence Program Continued to Grow in 2009
3/4/2010 5:37:50 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2010 

The benevolence program of our association continued its healthy growth in 2009. With a 21 percent increase in 2009 from the previous year, we are continuing our work of assisting our members and their full-time employees with medical, dental, and optical needs.

In addition, the Oklahoma HBPA Board of Directors is committed to researching and finding a mechanism to help reduce the cost of workman’s compensation insurance for our members.

Will Rogers Downs delays opening
2/19/2010 1:17:56 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 2/18/2010, 6:51 pm

Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa has pushed back the start of its spring Thoroughbred meet from March 6 to March 20, the track announced late Thursday. The season will remain 32 dates in length as originally scheduled, with the track adding four Wednesdays and extending its meet a few additional days, to May 18.

The change in the opening date was made because of extreme winter weather conditions in Oklahoma.

"In the last 45 days, there were 27 of those days that the horses were unable to train due to the weather," Kelly Cathey, the racing secretary at Will Rogers, said in a release issued by the track. "Not being able to train as much could be a safety issue for the horses. We want fit horses and full and competitive fields."

Will Rogers has added the following Wednesdays: April 14, 21 and 28, and May 5. The changes have been approved by the Oklahoma Racing Commission.

Oklahoma gaming payment inquiry sought
2/19/2010 1:17:22 PM  -  The Oklahoman 

Posted: 2/18/2010

Two Oklahoma horsemen’s groups are calling for a state investigation into whether one or more American Indian tribes have been shortchanging state racehorse owners on required gaming payments in the Tulsa area.

Horse owners are concerned they may be getting shorted as much as $2 million a year, said Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association.

Schauf’s organization and the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma have asked to appear before the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission today to request an investigation.

The meeting will take place at 9:30 a.m. at the Trackside Cafe at Remington Park Racetrack and Casino in Oklahoma City.

What’s at issue?

The dispute involves gaming compacts the state has with three Oklahoma tribes that operate electronic gaming facilities within 20 miles of Tulsa’s Fair Meadows racetrack.

The Cherokee, Muscogee (Creek) and Osage Nations operate electronic games within that zone.

Under terms of their gaming compacts with the state, each tribe is required to pay the Tulsa Area Tribal Purse Fund and Fair Meadows a percentage of their net gaming revenues from machines within the zone. This is in exchange for the state not allowing gaming machines to be installed at Fair Meadows. The track is operated by the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority.

Horsemen are concerned because tribal payments to the purse fund dropped by more than $2 million (nearly 30 percent) last fiscal year with no obvious legitimate reason, Schauf said.

"During the same period, the revenue for horsemen from the nontribal casinos operated by the racetracks remained relatively stable, making it difficult to justify the reduced revenue for the ... (purse fund),” the horsemen’s groups said in a letter to the Horse Racing Commission.

The purse fund is used to bolster payouts to owners of winning horses at Fair Meadows and other racetracks in the state.

Schauf said the governor, state treasurer and Office of State Finance are responsible for enforcing terms of the contract.

Oklahoma Breeding Report
2/17/2010 4:54:04 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 2/16/2010, 3:19 pm

Time is ripe to expand stallion roster

Rockin Z Ranch in Beggs, Okla., has signaled its move from a private to public operation by bringing in three quality stallions for the 2010 season: Omega Code, Service Stripe, and Fast Play.

All are owned in part by Robert Zoellner, a Tulsa-based doctor and entrepreneur who four years ago this month purchased Rockin Z Ranch. He initially used the 200-acre facility to house his own broodmares and a few belonging to friends. But after completing a series of improvements, the farm is now offering breeding, mare care, and foaling.

"We're more of a full service ranch now," said Zoellner. "That was really my vision from the get-go. It was just a question of when we got there. It's a great time to be investing in Oklahoma in the horse racing business. It looks like things are ramping up."

Purses across the state are on the rise because of the gaming now in place at tracks such as Remington Park in Oklahoma City. And that's just one reason the time was ripe to bring in stallions, said Zoellner. Oklahoma is reinstating its breed-back rule, whereby a mare must be bred every other year to an accredited stallion in the state in order for the foals to be eligible for Oklahoma-bred status. The program begins with foals of 2011.

"Looking at that, it's a wonderful opportunity and makes financial sense to own stallions," said Zoellner.

Rockin Z Ranch recently had an open house to introduce its stallions to breeders in the region. Omega Code is brand new to the market, as he previously stood in Florida.

"There was a lot of interest in him," said Joe Flemings, a former trainer who now manages Rockin Z Ranch. "He's a very good-looking individual, and I think with his breeding and his look, that he's going to put some nice babies on the ground."

Earlier this month, there were already 35 mares booked to Omega Code, a Grade 3-winning son of Elusive Quality.

Service Stripe, a long-established son of Deputy Minister, is new to Oklahoma, and Fast Play, who is by Seattle Slew, is in his second year in the state after standing at a different farm last year. Each of the Rockin Z stallions will stand for $2,000.

As part of the improvements at Rockin Z, the farm has upgraded its mare motel by adding veterinary facilities and an oversized foaling stall. There is also a new stallion barn, with each of its six stalls leading out to two-acre paddocks.

Zoellner got into racing about 10 years ago, claiming his first horse at Remington under the direction of Flemings. He eventually expanded his holdings and moved into the breeding side of the business. One of the first foals dropped at Rockin Z was Peach Brew.

"She won my first graded stakes race up at Arlington Park last year," Zoellner said. "It was a really big deal for the program."

Peach Brew, who took the Arlington Oaks, was freshened at the close of 2009, and has recently rejoined trainer Donnie Von Hemel's stable at Oaklawn Park. She could see action late in the Arkansas meet, possibly in the $100,000 Bayakoa on April 7, said Zoellner.

Until then, the breeding season will keep Zoellner hopping at Rockin Z.

Tactical Cat leader in Oklahoma

Tactical Cat was the leading general sire in Oklahoma for 2009, with progeny earnings of $2,255,184. He had 73 winners from 142 runners. His chief earner, Wishful Tomcat, won four consecutive stakes last year in New York for earnings of $181,875. Overall, the horse is a Grade 3 winner of more than $400,000.

Tactical Cat is a Grade 1-winning son of Storm Cat. He stands for $2,000, at Diamond G Ranch in Edmond.

* The stakes winners Mr. Nightlinger, Waupaca, and Brego will all launch their stallion careers this year in Oklahoma.

Global Gaming wins approval for Remington
12/23/2009 3:37:53 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 12/22/2009, 6:34 pm

The Oklahoma Racing Commission on Tuesday afternoon unanimously approved Global Gaming's license application as the new owner of Remington Park. The company, which is owned by the Chickasaw Nation, had reached an agreement in August to purchase the Oklahoma City track from Magna Entertainment for $80.25 million. Magna filed for bankruptcy in March.

Global Gaming RP LLC is to take over as the new operator of Remington on Jan. 1, 2010.

"The only thing left for them to do is the conditional license order," Tino Rieger, the executive director of the Oklahoma Racing Commission, said Tuesday. "They have to review and sign it and get it back to us within 10 days."

Remington operates a casino with 700 electronic games, and announced last week that number will expand to 750 in 2010. The track conducts a spring meet for Quarter Horses and a fall season for Thoroughbreds.

The Chickasaw Nation is based in Ada, Okla. Global Gaming also won an October auction to acquire the operating assets of Lone Star Park near Dallas from Magna, for $47 million. The licensing process for that facility goes through the Texas Racing Commission.

New Southwind Casino OTB Simulcast Facility
12/15/2009 5:18:55 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2009 

With the opening on October 30 of the off-track betting (OTB) simulcast facility at the Kaw Nation’s SouthWind Casino in Newkirk, Oklahoma, there are now four such OTBs in the state at Native American Indian casinos. The partnership between the tribal casinos and RPDC not only provides the opportunity for racing fans to watch and wager on horse races in Oklahoma and North America, but also international programs. It is also proving to be beneficial to Thoroughbred racing in Oklahoma because the industry is receiving an equitable share from handle at the tribal OTBs.

Initially, the Chickasaw Nation opened tribal OTBs at RiverWind Casino in Norman – about 35 miles from Remington Park; and at WinStar Casino in Thackerville, by the Red River – which is 125 miles south of Remington Park and about 80 miles north of Dallas/Fort Worth. The Eastern Shawnee tribe’s Bordertown Casino on the Oklahoma/Missouri state line is about 200 miles from Remington Park and 75 miles from Wills Rogers Downs. SouthWind Casino, in the northern part of the state, is about 120 miles from Remington Park and Will Rogers Downs.

First Health Fair
12/15/2009 5:17:39 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2009 

A tremendous, heartfelt “thank you” goes to the University of Oklahoma (OU) Cancer Institute for assisting the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO/HBPA) with its first health fair. Sponsored by TRAO and with professional services provided by OU, more than 60 individuals took advantage of screening and testing for skin cancer, glucose levels, blood pressure monitoring, and other health risks.

The health fair is one of the many benefits available to TRAO members. Other benevolence assistance is provided for medical and dental expenses, eyeglasses and optometry, reimbursement for prescriptions, and some other related types of expenses. TRAO members and immediate family members are encouraged to visit the TRAO office or website for complete program guidelines.

The benevolence program is growing. Year-to-date 2009 is up 85% compared to 2008. As services continue to expand, the TRAO Board of Directors will be announcing a scholarship program for secondary education in 2010.

Halloween Party
12/15/2009 5:16:42 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2009 

On Tuesday, October 27, the Third Annual TRAO Children’s Halloween Party was held in the track kitchen at Remington Park. Arnie Frazee and Patsy Payne from the Racetrack Chaplaincy, Shannon Shepler and Sandy Steinberg from Remington Park and, as always, Danielle Barber, the TRAO office manager, made this event a huge success for the children on the backside.

The TRAO is also co-sponsoring the annual Blue Ribbon Downs Children’s Christmas Party. Dr. Paula Haraway is the creator and facilitator of that annual event and does an absolutely wonderful job.

Oklahoma State University in Stillwater, Oklahoma is the home to the Oklahoma Special Olympics Equestrian Events. On November 14, the events were held, and the TRAO was especially proud to be a sponsor of the event. Dr. Joseph Alexander of Oklahoma State University does a terrific job of promoting that event and is definitely a great ambassador for the Thoroughbred industry statewide.

2010 Race Dates Impacted by Closing of Blue Ribbon Downs
12/15/2009 5:14:35 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2009 

Since Blue Ribbon Downs in eastern Oklahoma announced that it will not conduct racing after November 28, 2009, Thoroughbred racing dates at Will Rogers Downs are expected to change for 2010. Instead of conducting a “mixed” meet of 40 or more days from late February, with eight races per day for Thoroughbreds and three races per day for Quarter Horses, Will Rogers Downs will race a minimum of 32 days (beginning early March), and each program will be 10 races for Thoroughbreds.

During June and July, there will be the usual 32 days of “mixed” racing at Fair Meadows at Tulsa, with an average of five races per day for Thoroughbreds.

At the end of August, Remington Park will host a 67-day meet for Thoroughbreds with over 600 races.

Although there will be slightly fewer race days and races for Thoroughbreds in Oklahoma during 2010, the average purse per race at each meet will remain comparable to 2009.

Oklahoma Racino to Close Lack of Business
10/28/2009 2:13:47 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 10/22/2009 6:29:14 PM Last Updated: 10/22/2009 6:48:37 PM

Blue Ribbon Downs, which opened nearly a half-century ago and became the first pari-mutuel horseracing track in Oklahoma, will shut down for good in November because of a lack of patron support.

The Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, which owns the track in Sallisaw, announced the decision Oct. 22. Blue Ribbon Downs, which has a casino that began operating in November 2004, will close after its current racing season ends Nov. 28. The track employs about 100 people.

During the last two years, the tribe twice tried to sell the track and entered into a contract with a potential buyer in May. Tribal spokeswoman Judy Allen said the deal “is not happening at this time.”

Allen said the Choctaws invested a lot of money in the track but there wasn’t enough support to continue. The property will remain available for sale, she said.

“We really made our best effort and we are comfortable with the decision” to close the track, Allen said. “This has been a long time in coming. We really have tried every measure we could think of to keep the business open because we certainly didn’t want to end employment for anyone, and we wanted to keep the employment in the region.”

Allen said the tribe is encouraging track workers willing to relocate to Durant, Okla., to apply for new jobs that will become available when the Choctaw’s expanded hotel and casino open next year.

Blue Ribbon Downs began running in the early 1960s, and in 1984 became the state’s first track to offer pari-mutuel racing. The track, located in a town of about 8,000 people in far eastern Oklahoma near the Arkansas border, has a history of financial struggles.

Its former owner, Race Horses Inc., filed for bankruptcy in 1997 and again in 2002, the latter time after falling into debt with the city of Sallisaw. The Choctaw Nation bought Blue Ribbon Downs for $4.25 million in November 2003, one day before the track was to be sold at a sheriff’s auction.

The track’s casino also faced competition from a nearby casino operated by the Cherokee Nation.

“I knew it was coming, but it’s still sad to hear that it’s actually reality now,” said top Quarter Horse jockey G.R. Carter, who spent the early years of his riding career at the track. “I think of great horses like Easy Jet, Gold Coast Express, and See Me Do It that raced there. I hate it for local horsemen who have put their whole life into running at Blue Ribbon Downs.”

Constantin Rieger, executive director of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, said the tribe’s announcement came after months of rumors Blue Ribbon Downs might close.

“From a business perspective, I fully understand,” he said. “If you’d seen their last couple of years of financial statements, you’d understand. It was upward of a million dollars a year they’d lost.”

Blue Ribbon Downs is dealing with the recent death of 58-year-old jockey Mark Pace of Devine, Texas, fell off his mount during the first race at the track Oct. 18.

Also in Oklahoma, Will Rogers Downs in Claremore was shuttered for five years but reopened in 2006.

“It’s a sad day for Oklahoma horse racing,” said Oklahoma-based trainer Donnie Von Hemel, whose lone Kentucky Derby (gr. I) entrant, Clever Trevor, raced at Blue Ribbon Downs as a 2-year-old in 1988. “We were hopeful the gaming would help keep it alive but the Choctaws couldn’t figure out a way to do it.”

Fiddlers Afleet steps up in Oklahoma Derby
10/13/2009 4:50:03 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 10/11/2009, 7:46 pm

The win streak Fiddlers Afleet is building keeps getting more significant. It began in the New York-bred ranks back in July and extended to open company on Sunday when he held off a charging Massone to win the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby by a half-length. It was the third consecutive win for Fiddlers Afleet, who had taken an allowance at Belmont Park in July and the $150,000 Albany at Saratoga in August prior to his trip to Remington Park.

He was the star on an Oklahoma Derby Day card that featured two other major races for total stakes purses of $750,000. The program was the richest of the meet, and other winners on the day included Payton d'Oro in the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks.

Fiddlers Afleet ($11.40) was content to track pacesetter Red Lead in second, sitting off that one through an opening quarter in 23.73 seconds, a half-mile in 48.25, and six furlongs in 1:13.25. Fiddlers Afleet took the lead into the stretch and went on to cover 1 1/8 miles on a track rated fast in 1:51.

Channing Hill rode the winner for Marc Ferrell and trainer Mike Hushion.

Fiddlers Afleet picked up $240,000 for his win in the Oklahoma Derby, his fourth career win from 13 starts. He has now earned $451,835. Fiddlers Afleet is a son of Northern Afleet and the stakes-winning mare American Tango.

Red Lead held third in the Oklahoma Derby, finishing two lengths behind runner-up Massone.

Payton d'Oro best in Oaks>/b>

Payton d'Oro moved to the lead soon after the opening quarter in the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks and never looked back for a commanding, one-length win in the 1 1/16-mile race. Multipass finished second, a nose in front of the late-running Peach Brew.

Payton d'Oro ($4.80), who in May won the Grade 2 Black-Eyed Susan, broke well in the Oaks and raced in third early as Morsel led the field through an opening quarter in 24.32 seconds. The eventual winner then moved up suddenly to join the leader through a half-mile in 48.56, and continued to be a pace force through six furlongs in 1:13.02. Payton d'Oro went about her business into the stretch, and despite surging efforts from Multipass and Peach Brew remained in command to the wire. She covered the distance in 1:44.70.

The Oaks was Payton d'Oro's first start since July, when she was fifth to future Grade 1 Alabama winner Careless Jewel in the Grade 2 Delaware Oaks. Terry Thompson rode Payton d'Oro for trainer Larry Jones. The winner is owned by the partnership of Michael Pressley, John Ferris, Mike Riley, Barry Higgins, and Lee Robey.

* Orientate Express ($27.80) caught Steve's Double on the wire for a neck win in the $150,000 Remington Green. He covered the 1 1/16 miles on firm turf in 1:44.50. Glen Murphy rode the winner for Prairie Lane Farms and trainer Kelly Von Hemel.

Remington Park: Perfect Bull possible for Oklahoma Derby
10/1/2009 3:43:11 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 9/30/2009, 5:54 pm

Perfect Bull, who has won route stakes in two of his last three starts, is being considered for the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Oct. 11, trainer Bernell Rhone said. The horse won the $60,000 Minnesota-bred Derby and the $50,000 Minnesota Classic Championship in August before finishing second in the $75,000 Prairie Meadows Derby in his last start on Sept. 19.

"It may be a little ambitious for him, but he's a nice colt," Rhone said. "The Oklahoma Derby is going to get some starch, I would think. But he's home-based here."

The other option for Perfect Bull would be the $125,000 Bryan Station at a mile on turf at Keeneland on Oct. 18, Rhone said. The horse is a multiple allowance winner on the grass. Perfect Bull is a son of Holy Bull and he races for Red Dog Stables.

Rhone, a high school teacher turned trainer, won the 1,000th race of his career Sept. 27 at Remington, with Cooltime. His first career winner came back in 1977 at Marquis Downs. At the time, Rhone was a high school counselor who spent his summers racing at small meets in western Canada.

"I did that for several years," he said.

Rhone then turned to training full time and currently splits his year between Remington, Tampa Bay Downs, and Canterbury Park, where he was the leading trainer in 1996. Among the best horses he has trained is Dontbotherknocking, who won eight stakes and $724,127.

Rhone has a 27-horse stable at Remington. Other stakes performers for the barn include Heza Wild Guy, who was third last out in the $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial at Remington. He is being pointed to a statebred stakes in Indiana, Rhone said.

Luis Quinonez Wins DeBartolo, Governor''''s Cup
9/10/2009 9:45:11 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 9/7/2009 8:28:51 PM Last Updated: 9/8/2009 8:38:03 AM

Jockey Luis Quinonez registered back-to-back stakes wins at Remington Park Sept. 7 with Going Ballistic in the Governor's Handicap and Tizfiz in the Edward J. DeBartolo Memorial.

Going Ballistic, an 11-1 outsider, rallied from last in the field of seven to upset 2-5 choice Jonesboro by 1 1/4 lengths in the $150,000 Governor's Cup. The 5-year-old Florida-bred son of Lite the Fuse completed the 1 1/16-mile distance on a fast track in 1:43.80. Jonesboro, who gained the lead in the stretch but couldn't sustain his charge, finished 4 1/2 lengths in front of third-place finisher Alcomo.

Donnie Von Hemel trains Going Ballistic, who earned $90,000 for owner Kindred Thoroughbreds. The gray/roan horse paid $25.80 to win.

Tizfiz, the 6-5 favorite in the $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial, rallied three wide into the stretch after rating in third, then drew clear in the final furlong for a two-length win over Get Rich Quick. Heza Wild Guy finished third. She completed the 1 1/8-mile turf event in 1:48.03 on firm going.

A 5-year-old mare by Tiznow , Tizfiz is trained by John Good for owners Brian Kahn and the Richard J. O'Neill Trust. She earned $90,000 for the victory and returned $4.40.

Election Results
8/31/2009 12:52:45 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2009 

With the election supervised and votes tallied by an independent election director and committee, Donnie K. Von Hemel has been elected the Oklahoma HBPA (dba TRAO/HBPA) President for a three-year term. Originally from Kansas, Donnie has called Oklahoma home since 1988.

Von Hemel grew up in a racing family. His father, Don, has been a trainer since the late 1950s, and his younger brother, Kelly, is also a trainer.

Incumbent Owner Directors re-elected were: Ron Blalock, L. Keith Farris, John Richter and Steve Schooley. Rusty Roberts was also elected as an Owner Director.

Incumbent Trainer Directors re-elected were: Bob Listen and Joe Offolter. Also elected as Trainer Directors were: Bill Anderson, Wilson Brown and Randy Oberlander.

Summer-Autumn Racing
8/31/2009 12:51:34 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2009 

In eastern Oklahoma, the late summer-autumn season of Thoroughbred racing kicked off July 31 at Blue Ribbon Downs (BRD) in Sallisaw, Oklahoma. BRD runs a schedule for mixed breeds which will have 134 races for Thoroughbreds and will conclude November 28.

Remington Park (RP) in Oklahoma City opened its Thoroughbred meet on August 21 and races Fridays through Mondays through December 14. The $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on October 11 will highlight a weekend of racing that offers over $850,000 in stakes purses. The Oklahoma-bred program will be in the spotlight September 7 and November 22.

New Programs Available to Members from AFLAC
8/31/2009 12:50:13 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2009 

With generous assistance from the National HBPA, the TRAO/HBPA has teamed with the AFLAC insurance company to offer premium rates for members. Horsemen are fortunate to have Oklahoma resident and longtime horsewoman Sandra Howard as the local AFLAC representative. Sandra can be contacted at (405) 574-4889 or sandra_howard@us.aflac.com.

Anabolic Steroid Rule in Effect
8/31/2009 12:49:06 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2009 

Effective August 18, 2009, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission has prohibited the presence of anabolic steroids in a race horse except for the presence of the following at plasma/serum levels below OHRC sanctioned thresholds:

Stanozolol: 85 pg/ml

Boldenone (Equipoise): 215 pg/ml

Nandrolone: 65 pg/ml

Testosterone: 100 pg/ml

Threshold levels are based on a 60-day withdrawal and, according to Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission Executive Director Tino Rieger, threshold levels are subject to change when the RMTC issues its recommendations.

Greeleys Conquest Holds on in Remington Cup
8/24/2009 12:42:59 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 8/23/2009 1:28:56 PM Last Updated: 8/24/2009 11:11:56 AM

Greeley's Conquest opened a three-length lead in the stretch and held on to win the $200,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup (VIDEO) on the night of Aug. 22 at the Oklahoma City track.

Ridden by Jamie Theriot, Greeley's Conquest defeated Sing Baby Sing by a half-length, with Ravalo finishing a head farther back in third. Ez Dreamer, the 5-2 favorite in the field of seven, faded to sixth after leading on a fast pace for the six-furlong event.

Returning from a summer layoff after being injured in a race at Oaklawn Park for trainer Gary Thomas, Greeley's Conquest made a strong middle move after stalking Ez Dreamer through quarter-mile splits of :21.68 and :44.14. He challenged midway on the turn and took a clear advantage in the homestretch. The 5-year-old son of Mr. Greeley then responded gamely to the challenge of Sing Baby Sing and Ravalo in the final yards. Greeley’s Conquest won in 1:08.79 over a fast track.

“He was a little fresh but if we would have let Ez Dreamer go by himself, he would have been gone,” Thomas noted. “I knew this horse could do it. He is gutsy.”

Sing Baby Sing, rallying five wide for Chris Landeros, was getting to the winner late but ran out of real estate. He edged Ravalo and Quincy Hamilton, who were within striking distance throughout, for the runner-up spot.

The grade III winner Sing Baby Sing was coming off a layoff since the 2008 Breeders’ Cup Sprint (gr. I), where he ran sixth.

Away from the starting gate as the fifth choice, Greeley’s Conquest paid $15.80, $6.20 and $4.40. Sing Baby Sing returned $5.60 to place and $3.20 to show. Ravalo was $2.80 to show.

Greeley’s Conquest, owned by Millard Seldin, won his first race from three career starts at Remington Park. Bred in Kentucky by Liberation Farms and Oratis Thoroughbreds, the dark bay horse is out of the Raise a Cup mare Tipsy Girl. Greeley’s Conquest won his seventh career race from 21 starts and earned $120,000. His lifetime bankroll now sits $444,533.

"He was going easy," Theriot said. "When I got to the half-mile pole I didn’t think we could get beat. He was relaxed, Gary did a great job getting him ready.”

A race earlier on the card, Nadeshiko won the $100,000 Remington Park Filly & Mare Sprint under a rail-skimming ride by Theriot. He put the filly through a small hole on the rail as the field came out of the turn into the stretch. In doing so Nadeshiko had contact issues with the pacesetting Magdalena's Chase.

Despite the slight bumping, Theriot kept Nadeshiko busy and she responded to pull away to a one-length win. Once past Magdalena’s Chase, Nadeshiko ($6.60) had to hold off 2-1 favorite Classify, who rallied outside to gain second.

The time for the six-furlong test was 1:09.23.

Nadeshiko won her fifth career race from 18 attempts in her Remington Park debut. The Filly & Mare Sprint was worth $60,000, pushing her lifetime earnings to $242,793.

Owned by Larry Richardson of Lexington, Ky., Nadeshiko is trained by Gregory Foley. She is a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred filly by Honour and Glory from the Caller I.D. mare Call Her.

MEC Parent Asks to Sell Remington for $80M
8/13/2009 3:27:47 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 8/13/2009 11:37:18 AM

MI Developments, parent company of Magna Entertainment Corp., said Aug. 12 debtors filed a motion seeking court approval to sell MEC-owned Remington Park Racing & Casino in Oklahoma to a third party for $80.25 million pending “higher and better offers.”

The action was revealed in MI Developments’ second-quarter earnings report, which shows net income for the company’s real estate business at $31.3 million, up from $26.3 million for the second quarter of 2008. Revenue dipped slightly to $55.3 million to $55.2 million.

MEC filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy March 5. Thus far, no properties have been sold.

MID earlier announced itself as a “stalking horse” for MEC properties. Though that bid scenario was terminated, MID said Aug. 12 it’s “continuing to evaluate whether to bid on MEC assets” during the course of the bankruptcy process.

MID said it would prevent “fires sales” of any MEC properties, including Santa Anita Park in California.

On Aug. 4, the debtors filed a motion in court to sell real estate in Ocala, Fla., for $5.75 million to an entity related with Fair Enterprise Ltd., which MID calls “part of real estate planning vehicle for the Stronach family.” Frank Stronach is chairman of MEC.

A hearing on the Remington and Ocala land sales has been requested for Aug. 26.

The status of other MEC properties is unknown. The MID earnings report said MEC “has advised the court it is continuing to explore all alternatives with respect to its remaining assets.”

In Ohio, MEC owns Thistledown, which must make a $13-million payment by Sept. 15 as part of its license fee to operate video lottery terminals. If the track’s owner—MEC or another company—fails to do so, it will be fined.

Remington Park Changes Racing Schedule
7/24/2009 3:31:23 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 7/22/2009 3:13:51 PM Last Updated: 7/23/2009 10:02:12 PM

Remington Park officials announced a new racing schedule for the upcoming Thoroughbred Season, which starts Aug. 21. Races will take place on Fridays, Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays for the season, which runs through Dec. 14 . Last year, horses ran from Thursday through Sunday.

The decision was made today to move the first Monday of live racing to August 31 as a courtesy to the Carter Sale Company who has planned their Summer Thoroughbred Sale on Monday, August 24.

The opening weekend of the Thoroughbred season will be Friday, Aug. 21 through Sunday, Aug. 23. The post times will be 6:30pm for Fridays and Saturdays and 1:30pm on Sunday. The post time for Mondays will be will be 6:30pm.

The announcement coincides with the first group of horses arriving at Remington Park to train for the upcoming season. Scott Wells, Remington Park’s president and general manager, said the addition of Monday racing allows the track to be featured more prominently on simulcasts.

“This change was made in order to attract more play on Remington Park’s racing on a national scale,” Wells said.

Last year, an all-time record of more than 1.5 million fans entered Remington Park’s gates. This year, attendance is up 20%.

The first group of horses for the upcoming season began training July 22.

“The first day of training is always an exciting time because it means the season is just around the corner,” Wells said. “But when you look at the talent we have on tap for the next four months, that’s when the excitement climbs to an entirely new level.”

Fair Meadows: Bucking the Trend
6/11/2009 9:49:57 AM  -  Tulsa World 

Posted: Friday, June 05, 2009 6/5/2009 7:10:38 AM

FAIR MEADOWS opened its 20th season of horse racing in Tulsa on Thursday by bucking a downward trend in the industry.

The track on Expo Square has received papers on about 3,500 horses and the nearly 500 horse stalls in the barns are filled to overflowing.

"That's as good as anywhere in the country," said Ron Shotts, director of racing at Fair Meadows.

By contrast, many of the nation's top horse racing tracks, hit hard by a sagging economy, are having trouble attracting horses. Even Churchill Downs, home to the Kentucky Derby, has been forced to cut purses and racing days.

"When I found out we had sets of papers for 3,500 horses this week Well, that's just unbelievable," said Shotts. "I know the economy is bad. I know horse racing is going through some struggles.

"But, to have that many entries, to have that many horsemen want to support this track like that is remarkable. That is a huge number of horses for any track."

Fair Meadows opened its 34-day race season this week. It will continue through July 26.

Fair Meadows has not been immune to the downturn in the horse racing industry. The track has only about 20 percent of the handle and attendance that it had at its peak back in the 1990s. Back then, the track averaged nearly 6,000 per race date. "Now, if we get 1,000 people out here for a night of racing, we're celebrating," said Shott.

Still, the track remains one of the nation's most popular with horsemen.

It has traditionally been among the nation's top 10 tracks for attracting entries for a race season.

Tracks all over the country are having a tough time filling fields for races. As a result, there are races being canceled at some of the largest and most traditional tracks in the country.

By contrast, Fair Meadows is full to overflowing.

"We have over 300 entries for Friday's races," said Shotts. "That is great. The interest by horsemen in our race season has never been higher."

There may be several reasons for all of the interest.

For starters, Fair Meadows is the only game in town this time of year. As Remington Park in Oklahoma City and other tracks around the state take a break, Fair Meadows is just getting going.

In addition, Fair Meadows, as a designated fair meet, has a favorable structure for the horsemen.

"About 80 percent of our payouts go to Oklahoma horsemen," said Shotts. "As a result, we've always had great cooperation from the horsemen for our race season.

"I just think we've always kind of catered to the horsemen, and they have, in response, really supported us."

All of the renovations and upgrades at Expo Square have left Fair Meadows with about 480 stalls. There should be a big "No vacancy" sign hanging out front.

For Thursday's opening day, there were 12 scheduled races and nine had full fields of 10 horses.

Friday's schedule includes 12 races with 10 full fields. The other two races have nine and eight entries.

And that's the way it goes most of the summer.

"There's no question the quality of racing here is as good as it has ever been," said Shotts.

By contrast, Santa Anita Park has filed for bankruptcy. The owner of Pimlico, home to the Preakness Stakes, is in bankruptcy.

Tickets for the Breeders' Cup have been cut in some cases from $200 to $40.

"There's no doubt we have many of the same problems as tracks all over the country," said Shotts. "We struggle to get people out to the races. Our handle is down.

"But, when it comes to horses, we've had no downturn. We continue to draw horses to our race meet at record levels. As a result, the racing itself is in great shape."

Blue Ribbon Downs - Racetrack Sale May Be in Starting Gate
6/11/2009 9:48:24 AM  -  Sequoyah County Times 

Posted: 06.05.09 - 04:26 pm

Blue Ribbon Downs is up for sale, and a limited liability corporation (LLC) has made an offer on the Sallisaw racetrack.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) said Thursday the OHRC has received a letter from the Choctaw Nation announcing the pending sale.

The letter, from attorney Bob Rabon, general counsel for the Choctaw Nation which bought the track in 2003 for $4.25 million the day before it was to be auctioned on the courthouse steps, sent a letter May 28 to the OHRC announcing the Choctaw Nation has entered into a contract with Furlong Perfecta LLC.

Rabon’s letter states the Choctaw Nation has a contract with Furlong Perfecta LLC “…for the sale of one hundred percent (100 percent) of the ownership of Backstretch LLC. The sale includes all of the facilities owned by Backstretch, real and personal, currently being used to operate racing and gaming at Blue Ribbon Downs.…The agreement requires Commission approval of the transfer of ownership. An application for the approval will be submitted as soon as it can be prepared.”

An OHRC spokesman said Thursday that the ownership transfer application has not yet been received. When it is, the members of the partnership will be made public since the OHRC requires that all those involved in Oklahoma racing have background checks. Once the application is submitted, it takes from 60 to 90 days for the checks and proposed sale to be put to a vote of the OHRC members.

Blue Ribbon Downs has been approved by the OHRC to offer 43 live race dates beginning July 31 and continuing through Nov. 28. Most of the race dates are on Friday, Saturday and Sunday according to the racetrack’s Web site.

Neal Leader, with the attorney general’s office, is responding to Rabon’s letter explaining the sale process and what the next steps are, the OHRC spokesman said.

A source in Sallisaw, who asked not to be identified, confirmed the partnership, a local group, is trying to buy the racetrack, but the contract will not be signed until later this month.

According to records obtained from the Oklahoma Secretary of State, the articles of organization of Furlong Perfecta LLC were signed by Robert W. Kirby and witnessed by Benita Bowen, who is identified as the authorized manager. The articles of organization were filed with the state April 22 by attorney William R. Mayo of Mayo Law Offices in Tulsa.

The Cherokee Nation was not one of those mentioned as a member of the Furlong Perfecta LLC by the anonymous source.

The members of the partnership were rumored to have been involved in negotiations to buy the racetrack last year. Choctaw Nation spokeswoman Judy Allen said at that time, “The negotiations are proceeding. There is an interested buyer, but we can’t release the name. That’s part of the negotiations.”

The negotiations came to light last spring when Blane Story, the racetrack’s general manager of operations, asked the OHRC for an extension to apply for its 2009 racing and gaming licenses. The request was on the OHRC’s meeting agenda in June 2008 and was approved by the commission, Constantine A. Rieger, OHRC executive director, said at that time.

The OHRC in August approved the 2009 race dates for Blue Ribbon Downs, which will allow a new owner to continue live racing operations without too much of a delay.

Blue Ribbon Downs was founded by the late Bill Hedge in the early 1960s, and the racetrack went through several owners before it opened as Oklahoma’s first modern pari-mutuel racetrack on Aug. 30, 1984, under the ownership of the late Ralph Shebester of Wynnewood.

The Choctaw Nation bought the racetrack from Race Horses Inc. on Nov. 3, 2003, just before it was to go on the auction block to settle outstanding debts, one of which was to the City of Sallisaw for over $3 million. The city made the loan to Race Horses Inc. in 1995 after an Oklahoma City bank called in the racetrack’s loan.

At the time it was believed that the Cherokee Nation would purchase the track at the sheriff’s auction sale, which was scheduled to take place on Nov. 4, 2003. The day before the sheriff’s sale, the Cherokee Nation issued a press release that it would be bidding on the racetrack, but the Choctaw Nation purchased the track from Race Horses Inc. on Nov. 3 as Backstretch LLC.

A monument placed at Blue Ribbon Downs by the American Quarter Horse Association notes that Blue Ribbon Downs played an important part in the early development of Quarter Horse racing and many champion Quarter Horses made their debut appearances at the racetrack.

HBPA Participates in Chamber of Commerce Day
6/10/2009 1:47:23 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2009 

Will Rogers Downs hosted a Chamber of Commerce Day on Saturday, April 18 that highlighted the four surrounding communities. Each city had exhibition booths, giveaways, and a race named for them. It was a fun day for fans, and the Oklahoma HBPA gave away hundreds of T-shirts and caps.

Will Rogers Downs Meet Extended Three Days
6/10/2009 1:46:05 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2009 

Unlike the great weather of April 18, Kentucky Derby weekend featured rains of biblical proportions and flooding that caused cancellation of three days of racing at Will Rogers Downs. However, as a result of much appreciated extra effort by management and staff, the track was repaired and available for training a few days before the next race day.

May 23 was originally scheduled to be the meet’s closing day, but three make-up days extended the last day of the meet to May 26.

Fair Meadows Meet Underway
6/10/2009 1:44:04 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2009 

Oklahoma’s racing season continues in the northeast part of the state but shifts 25 miles south from Claremore to Tulsa. The 2009 Fair Meadows at Tulsa meet will run through July 26, with racing Thursday through Sunday nights. As a fair meet, most nights will feature races for Quarter Horses, Paints, Appaloosas and Thoroughbreds. There will be an average of five Thoroughbred races on each program.

Watch Your Mailboxes and Be Sure to Vote
6/10/2009 1:43:06 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2009 

All Oklahoma HBPA members are reminded that an election is being conducted for the association’s president and 10 directors to comprise the association’s Board of Directors for the next three years. Voting is encouraged.

Will Rogers Downs Met Underway
3/4/2009 12:44:12 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2009 

As the annual winter sabbatical from Thoroughbred racing in Oklahoma comes to a close, Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma kicked off its live meet on Saturday, February 28. Will Rogers Downs will conduct a 44-day meet with eight Thoroughbred races daily.

Thoroughbred horsemen racing at Will Rogers Downs in 2009 will enjoy a 6% purse increase over the 2008 distribution schedule.

Will Rogers Downs has been open for training since December 15, and the horsemen that have been training on-site have had very positive things to say about the racing surface. After the close of the 2008 live race meeting, the crew at Will Rogers Downs again removed the track cushion to inspect and repair any track base issues. The racing surface in 2008 was much improved over 2007, and we anticipate that trend will continue in 2009.

Working Towards Immigration Solutions
3/4/2009 12:43:01 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2009 

The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO) has been actively working for the past year to assist our members in the ever growing immigration issues that face our industry. With the increasing pressure that has been put on the H2B visa program, TRAO with our fellow horsemen from Kentucky, Texas, Minnesota, Florida, Iowa, and Washington, commenced working with Horseman Labor Solution (HLS) to pursue an alternative plan that would create an opportunity for labor that our members desperately need and further educate those employees on the health and welfare of our equine athletes. This educational/training program will be conducted by the national Groom Elite Program. This partnership will allow for participants to hold a H3 training visa. The H3 visa is active for a total of two (2) years.

The program was recently vetted and approved by Immigration National Services, and with the assistance from the National HBPA, we hope to have the program up and running as soon as the middle of March.

If you have any questions, or would like to participate in the H3 training program, please contact Horseman Labor Solutions at 1-877-GROOM-96 or, info@horsemenlabor.com. As always, you can also contact the TRAO office, as well.

Election Reminder
3/4/2009 12:41:38 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Spring 2009 

The 2009 TRAO election for president and Board of Directors is approaching. Ballots will be mailed this spring, and we encourage all TRAO members to participate in the election process for your association.

Good luck and safe racing in 2009.

Upward Trends
11/23/2008 7:05:25 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2008 

The Thoroughbred calendar in Oklahoma has completed a very successful and profitable 2008. This year, Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen ran for firm purse increases at all four race meets compared to 2007, and this trend is expected to continue in 2009 as well. One example will be seen at Will Rogers Downs, which begins its race meet in late February. Thoroughbred purses at Will Rogers will be increased an estimated six (6) percent over the 2008 meeting.

In addition to larger purse structures across the state, member horsemen have also realized an increase in benefits. The Oklahoma HBPA has significantly raised our benevolence levels over the past calendar year. Besides the increases in our medical, dental, and eye care benevolence, the Oklahoma HBPA has created a free “Horsemen’s Ice” program at Remington Park and is in the process of establishing a scholarship program for financial assistance to attend a higher education learning facility. In addition to the increases in benevolence, the other programs sponsored by the Oklahoma HBPA have grown as well.

We are very pleased to announce that our relationship with Race Track Chaplaincy of America has seen substantial growth this past year. There are established worship services at all of our tracks throughout the state. Chaplains Esten and Carl have worked diligently to serve all of our horsemen in Oklahoma, and they have succeeded phenomenally.

2009 Thoroughbred Race Dates in Oklahoma
11/23/2008 7:04:06 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2008 

Will Rogers Downs (Claremore, Oklahoma) – February 28 through May 19

Fair Meadows Tulsa (Tulsa, Oklahoma) – June 4 through July 26

Blue Ribbon Downs (Sallisaw, Oklahoma) – July 31 through November 28

Remington Park (Oklahoma City, Oklahoma) – August 21 through December 13

Visit Our Website
11/23/2008 7:03:11 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2008 

To stay on top of the latest news from the Oklahoma HBPA, visit our website at www.okhbpa.com.

Happy Holidays
11/23/2008 7:02:26 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Winter 2008 

The Oklahoma HBPA would like to wish all of you a very Merry Christmas and a safe and prosperous New Year.

Golden Yank upsets Tiz Now Tiz Then
10/22/2008 9:25:11 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 10/19/2008, 10:13 pm

OKLAHOMA CITY - Golden Yank, who since the spring has picked up checks in a series of 3-year-old stakes, put it all together on Sunday when he drove to a length and three-quarter win over favorite Tiz Now Tiz Then in the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park. It was another 2 3/4 lengths back in third to Acting Zippy.

The Oklahoma Derby was one of four stakes on the card, with the races worth a cumulative $675,000.

Golden Yank ($8.40) settled in the back of the pack early in the mile and an eighth race, as Sung moved to the lead and ran the opening quarter in 22.99 seconds, the half-mile in 46.61, and six furlongs in 1:10.91. Golden Yank advanced between horses approaching the final turn, angled out into the stretch and came home with authority.

"He finished strong today," said Jamie Theriot, who rode Golden Yank. "The last quarter of a mile, he finished like I know he can."

"That’s him," agreed Gary Thomas, who trains Golden Yank for the Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust.

Golden Yank, who covered the mile and an eighth on a fast track in 1:50.47, came into the Oklahoma Derby off a fourth-place finish in the Grade 2, $500,000 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs. Before that, he was third by a head in the $100,000 Prelude Breeders' Cup at Louisiana Downs, and second in the Grade 2, $200,000 Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs.

Thomas said plans for the horse's next start are to be determined, but options include the Grade 3, $150,000 Commonwealth Turf at Churchill Downs on Nov. 9, or the $150,000 Zia Park Derby on Dec. 6.

Remington Park Boosts Purses
9/19/2008 9:42:41 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 9/17/2008 3:46:38 PM Last Updated: 9/17/2008 4:12:02 PM

Remington Park announced that effective Friday, Sept. 19, all overnight purses will be increased approximately 5%. The upward financial offering will bring the daily average purse totals to the $218,000 mark. Remington Park was already well on pace to establish new daily average purse records through the first 16 days of the season, going over the $200,000 plateau for the first time ever.

Additionally the Oklahoma Derby, the track’s marquee Thoroughbred event, will now carry a purse of $350,000, a new all-time high for the race to be contested Sunday, Oct. 19. The Derby was originally worth $300,000.

Other stakes events on the Oklahoma Derby undercard have also been increased. The track’s top race for 2-year-olds, the Remington-MEC Mile, will now be worth $125,000. The last major turf stakes for older runners on the calendar, the Remington Green, also carries a purse that has been increased to $125,000.

Both the Remington-MEC Mile and the Remington Green were originally set at $100,000.

“Remington Park is pleased to offer a rare purse increase during the course of our season and we are equally pleased to enhance the stature of our top stakes events, including the now $350,000 Oklahoma Derby,” said Scott Wells, vice president and general manager of the track owned by Magna Entertainment. “Our racing product and our casino business are flourishing at this time, affording Remington Park the opportunity to increase purses and continue growth.”

Average on-track pari-mutuel handle through the first four weekends of the season is up 6% when compared to the 2007 season. Attendance on live racing dates is currently up 17% on average compared to last year.

The 2008 Remington Park Thoroughbred season will mark the third consecutive year that new records for daily purses have been established.

Horsemen''s Benefits Also Increase
9/3/2008 5:25:10 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2008 

The increase in the export product not only has given us the opportunity to raise the purse structures in Oklahoma, it has also given us the ability to significantly increase benefits to our members. Not only has the Oklahoma HBPA raised the available medical benevolence for our members in the past 12 months, the Oklahoma HBPA has recently purchased an Ice Plant and has instituted a free ice program at Remington Park for member horsemen.

Please visit our website at www.okhbpa.com.

Working to Increase Export Signal Revenue
9/3/2008 5:23:52 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Fall 2008 

Obviously, the passage of State Question 712 in 2004 allowed for gaming machines to support horsemen’s purses and breeder awards, as well as racetrack owners. However, we are not resting solely on the passage of that statute as we look to the future. The Oklahoma HBPA and our track partners have worked diligently to increase our export simulcast product to further assist our plan of making Oklahoma Thoroughbred racing as viable as possible over the past year.

The 2008 Will Rogers Downs meet in Claremore, Oklahoma is a great example. The increase in handle on the export of Will Rogers Downs Thoroughbred races increased 110% over 2007. At the time of this writing, the final figures for the recently concluded Fair Meadows Tulsa meeting are not yet available, but expectations are anticipated to be substantially higher than 2007. These increases can be directly attributed to the fact that the Oklahoma HBPA works closely with our racetrack and simulcast partners to promote and develop the live export product we are now offering.

Remington''s 20th Season Features Record Daily Purses
9/3/2008 5:22:44 PM  -  The Horsemen''''''''s Journal - Fall 2008 

On August 21, Remington Park opened for its 20th anniversary season of Thoroughbred racing and will offer the highest daily purse structure in the tracks 20-year history. The overnight purse structure has been increased by 9% in 2008. The increase will elevate the average daily purse distribution to an unprecedented $208,000 per day. This increase also signifies the fourth consecutive Thoroughbred meet in Oklahoma to increase purses from the previous year. As available purse revenue continues to rise, Oklahoma is demonstrating to the rest of the country that it is the place to breed and race Thoroughbred horses.

Remington Park: Trainers survived tough times at track
8/29/2008 1:56:01 PM  -  The Oklahoman 

Posted: Thu August 28, 2008

Times have not always been great at Remington Park. During the mid to late 1990s, it seemed like some people were trying to get off a sinking ship.

Not everyone. Those who have stayed have seen Remington turn its fortunes around and prosper.

As Remington celebrates its 20th anniversary this weekend, trainers who have been there from the beginning share some of their thoughts about how things used to be, how they are and how they might be in the future.

Brent Charlton took a gamble when he and his family moved from California to Oklahoma in 1988.

He had never been to Oklahoma but said living in California was just too expensive.

"We just fell in love with the place,” Charlton said. "The people were so nice. It was just so different from what we were used to.”

After 35 years training, Charlton is still going strong. He said he doesn't have any plans to retire and will keep going as long as his body lets him.

For trainer Kenny Nolen, Remington gave him a chance to come home. Originally from Stigler, Nolen was racing in Louisiana when he heard about Oklahoma City getting a track.

"It worked out perfect for me,” Nolen said. "It wasn't that I didn't love being in Louisiana, but of course, if you can go home, that's what you'd want to do.”

And when Remington was going through its down times, Nolen never thought about getting out or moving to another place.

"I just kept hope that things were going to get better,” Nolen said. "Now it has and everyone is upbeat again. It's a great place to be.”

When the tough times hit Joe Offolter, he knew horse racing wasn't the best business to be in. But he didn't know anything else to do.

Offolter, from Blanchard, used to race in Minnesota and Nebraska but has found a home at Remington. Especially now.

"I can't think of a time when there's been more excitement here,” he said. "I'm glad I stuck it out. I have a full barn here and am looking forward to this season.”

Offolter had a horse in the second race ever at Remington, placing third.

Trainer Donnie Von Hemel had a horse in the first race ever. His horse, Lucky Salvation, placed third, and it set the tone for Von Hemel's career. He is Remington's all-time leading trainer.

"This is a great track to be at with a great working environment,” Von Hemel said. "We've been through a lot, and it's great to think about where we can go in the future.”

Kip Deville Named Oklahoma Champion
8/8/2008 4:45:26 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 8/7/2008 3:52:54 PM Last Updated: 8/7/2008 4:02:33 PM

The Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association held its 23rd annual awards banquet Aug. 2 to announce its 2007 state-bred champions. Not surprisingly, the Horse of the Year, older male, and turf runner awards went to last year’s NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (gr. IT) winner Kip Deville, who is now the all-time leading accredited Oklahoma-bred runner.

Kip Deville had a tremendous 2007, earning $1,965,780 through seven races while posting three wins, a second, and a third. In addition to his Breeders’ Cup victory, Kip Deville also scored in the Frank E. Konroe Mile (gr. IT) at Santa Anita Park and the Maker’s Mark Mile (gr. IT) at Keeneland.

Other winners included: Nakala, 2-year-old filly; Picaso, 2-year-old male; Midsummer Magic, 3-year-old female; and T.D. Jaguar Jones, 3 year old male.

The older female award went to D Fine Okie, while both Marq French and Laura’s Last Music were selected as the co-champion sprinters.

The Blood-Horse Mint Julep and Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association Award winner as the leading breeder in Oklahoma went to Center Hills Farm, owned Dr. Warren Center, who bred champions T.D. Jaguar Jones and Kip Deville. Center Hills Farm stallion Kipling was named the winner of the Thoroughbred Times Stallion of the Year award.

Center Hills Farm completed the sweep for breeding awards when the operation’s deceased mare Klodike Kaytie, the dam of Kip Deville, was named broodmare of the year.

OK Racetrack sale in ''''negotiations''''
7/10/2008 1:45:03 PM  -  Sequoyah County Times 

Posted: 7/10/08

The Choctaw Nation is in negotiations to sell Blue Ribbon Downs, a Choctaw Nation spokesman confirmed Tuesday, but, since the tribe is still involved in talks with a possible buyer, the potential new owner's name is not being released.

Judy Allen, Choctaw Nation spokesman in Durant, said Tuesday, "The negotiations are proceeding. There is an interested buyer, but we can't release the name. That's part of the negotiations."

The negotiations came to light when Blane Story, the racetrack's general manager of operations, asked the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) for an extension to apply for its 2008 racing and gaming licenses. The request, which was on the OHRC's meeting agenda June 19, was approved by the commission, Constantine A. Rieger, OHRC executive director, said.

Blue Ribbon Downs' application for 40 race days in 2009, and a check for $80,000, will be presented to the OHRC at their next meeting on Aug. 14 on behalf of the Choctaw Nation if the racetrack is not sold. The OHRC does not have a meeting scheduled in July, Rieger said. Blue Ribbon Downs had 60 race days in 2005, 71 race days in 2006, and 70 race days in 2007 and 2008.

About rumors that the racetrack may close whether it is sold or not, Allen said, "That is an unfounded rumor. Blane Story said he has the application ready and the check is prepared for the next commission meeting.

"It's just a smart business move," Allen said, "to see if negotiations continue. If they don't, we will have the application ready."

The June agenda items explains that Story "...requests an extension of the application deadline, stating that the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, the current owner, is negotiating the sale of the racetrack with an executed agreement between the parties expected in the near future. Mr. Story added that submitting an application by the June 1, 2008, deadline would have mislead the general public, horsemen, sister Oklahoma racetracks and the Commission and also been costly for BRD to produce."

The deadline extension is allowed by the OHRC rules.

Horsemen at Blue Ribbon Downs said horses are moving in for the fall race meet at the track, which is scheduled to run Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays in August and Fridays through Mondays from September through November. Several horsemen, some of whom wished to remain anonymous, said rumors are flying that the racetrack will close or be closed by the new owners, which many speculate is the Cherokee Nation.

Mike Miller, Cherokee Nation spokesman, said Tuesday that the tribe could neither confirm or deny that it was in negotiations to buy the racetrack.

Miller said Cherokee officials, "...said we can't talk about something which might be in negotiations. We can't confirm or deny (the rumors)."

Miller added, "We are very supportive of the horse racing industry, especially at Will Rogers Downs (in Claremore). We're happy with it."

Debbie Schauf, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association executive director, said rumors are not good for Blue Ribbon Downs or Oklahoma racing in general.

"I get calls every day (about Blue Ribbon Downs)," Schauf said. "It makes it difficult to help. The rumors are very hurtful."

If Blue Ribbon Downs closed, Schauf said, "It would be devastating," to both the community and the horsemen who live in Sequoyah County and travel here to race. But she asked horsemen not to give to much credit to the rumors.

Horsemen at Blue Ribbon Downs agree that closing the track would be devastating, and many don't believe the rumors that are circulating in the rumor-prone atmosphere at the racetrack.

Ken George of Caney, Kan., who owns a horse farm in Sequoyah County agrees that closing the racetrack would be "devastating," but he also believes that Sequoyah County residents should know what is happening at the track and how it will impact the community.

"There comes a time when the community needs to know what is going on," George said.

Closing Blue Ribbon Downs, he said, "...would be a hardship on everybody, the feed stores, the veterinarians, the farriers, the exercise riders, the whole community."

Closing the track would hurt horse owners and trainers the most.

George said, "I don't think it would be fair to the trainers...Think of the gas prices and how much more it will cost to travel to other tracks. Of course that would raise the rates the trainers would have to pass on to the horse owners.

"I know a lot of the facts can't be published right now," George said. "I know these are negatives, but they are very critical...and I think the people need to know."

Better promotion of racing and the racino at Blue Ribbon Downs, George said, would help the racetrack's income.

George said if racing at Blue Ribbon Downs ceased, he would most likely try to sell his horse farm, or at least trim his herd of 18 broodmares to about five, and his staff of four to one or two employees.

"A lot of people will leave," George said. "It would affect the tax base and everyone will take a big hit."

About the rumor that, if the Cherokee Nation buys the racetrack they will petition the state legislature to allow the transfer of the gaming machines at Blue Ribbon Downs to Will Rogers Downs and close the Sallisaw track, George said he hopes that rumor is false.

He said the tribes have compacts with the state which limit the number of gaming machines, which are like slot machines, at three of the state's four racetracks, and changing those compacts could damage horse racing throughout the state, even at Fair Meadows in Tulsa. That track does not have gaming machines on site, but receives a supplement from the gaming proceeds from the state.

State Sen. Kenneth Corn (D-Poteau) said Tuesday that any changes to the compact with the tribes, which limits the number of gaming machines to 250 in markets of 400,000 or less population, would have to go to the state legislature.

"That would be a total change in the compact, which the legislature would have to do," Corn said.

Corn said he has also heard rumors about Blue Ribbon Downs' sale or closure, but trying to change the gaming compact with the tribes "could open a can of worms."

Blue Ribbon Downs was founded by the late Bill Hedge in the early 1960s, and the racetrack went through several owners before it opened as Oklahoma's first modern pari-mutuel racetrack on Aug. 30, 1984, under the ownership of the late Ralph Shebester of Wynnewood.

The Choctaw Nation bought the racetrack from Race Horses Inc. on Nov. 3, 2003, just before it was to go on the auction block to settle outstanding debts, one of which was to the City of Sallisaw for over $3 million. The city made the loan to Race Horses Inc. in 1995 after an Oklahoma City bank called in the racetrack's loan.

At the time it was believed that the Cherokee Nation would purchase the track at the sheriff's auction sale, which was scheduled to take place on Nov. 4, 2003, on the courthouse steps in Sallisaw. The day before the sheriff's sale, the Cherokee Nation issued a press release that it would be bidding on the racetrack.

A monument placed at Blue Ribbon Downs by the American Quarter Horse Association notes that Blue Ribbon Downs played an important part in the early development of Quarter Horse racing and many champion Quarter Horses made their debut appearances at the racetrack.

Tactical Cat to Diamond G
7/10/2008 1:43:02 PM  -  BloodHorse 

Date Posted: 7/8/2008 5:04:21 PM Last Updated: 7/9/2008 11:36:56 AM

Tactical Cat, a son of Storm Cat and sire of 20 stakes winners, has been purchased by Randy Gammill for stallion duty at his Diamond G Ranch near Edmond, Okla. Twelve-year-old Tactical Cat formerly stood at the Young family’s Overbrook Farm near Lexington.

A grade I winner, Tactical Cat sired the earners of $3.3 million last year, and is represented by the earners of $1.5 million this year. His career stakes winners include graded winners Dazzle Me, On Thin Ice, and Virden. Tactical Cat, whose career progeny earnings are $11.5 million, also has sired 15 stakes-placed runners.

Tactical Cat was one of the top 2-year-olds of 1998, winning or placing in six stakes. He captured the Hollywood Futurity (gr. I) and Tremont Stakes. He earned a career total of $480,067. His first two dams, Terre Haute (by Caro) and Mia Dancer, are both stakes winners.

A fee will be announced later.

Fair Meadows Tulsa Meet Underway
6/14/2008 7:55:37 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2008 

Fair Meadows Tulsa opened on June 5th and runs through July 26th. A 17% increase in available purse money is expected for the 2008 Fair Meadows Tulsa meet. Live racing can be seen four nights a week (Thursday through Sunday), with a meet average of five races per day dedicated to Thoroughbred participants.

Will Rogers Downs Meet a Rousing Success
6/14/2008 7:55:00 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2008 

It is springtime in Oklahoma, and Thoroughbred racing is on the rise as fast as the morning sun. The 2008 meet at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma has been a marvelous success on all levels. Will Rogers Downs has seen increases in all categories this spring, bucking some of the negative trends that racing has seen in other parts of the country. Not only are the overnight purses up over 14% from 2007, but the Oklahoma-bred program is the big winner.

The Oklahoma-bred program is up remarkably from the previous year. Through the first 31 days of the meet, Oklahoma-bred program participants have earned an additional $383,160. Oklahoma-bred revenue distribution is made available for both racing and breeding interests. Since August of 2007, in excess of $2.2 million has been dispersed to the owners, breeders, and stallion owners of Oklahoma-breds. For further information regarding the Oklahoma-bred program, please contact the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association or visit its website at www.otawins.com.

A large part of the success seen this spring at the Claremore oval can be contributed to the gaming machines located at the track. However, Will Rogers Downs has seen explosive growth in the export of its live signal. Export simulcasting is up 87% from 2007. This increase, in part, is due to altering the live racing schedule to include racing live on Mondays and Tuesdays. Also, a large contributing factor is that entries have been very good. Will Rogers Downs has an average starting field of 9.66. As we all know, larger fields generate larger mutuel pools, and larger mutuel pools equates to more available purse revenue.

Closing day for Will Rogers Downs was May 27th, but the Oklahoma HBPA expects the upward trend to continue at the next meet.

Remaining 2008 Racing in Oklahoma
6/14/2008 7:54:46 PM  -  The Horsemen''''s Journal - Summer 2008 

At the conclusion of the Fair Meadows Tulsa meet, Remington Park in Oklahoma City will begin its 67-day meet on August 21st. Remington Park will conduct four-day-a-week racing through December 14th. The Oklahoma HBPA expects total purse money distributed at Remington Park this fall to exceed $13 million.

Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Oklahoma will conduct its 2008 live meet from August 1st through November 30th.

With anticipated purse increases at all four of the tracks in Oklahoma conducting Thoroughbred racing in 2008, Thoroughbred horsemen will have the opportunity to compete for over $20 million in purses.

Please visit us at our website at www.okhbpa.com.

OK - Horse industry races to stop casino plan
6/4/2008 10:11:28 AM  -  NewsOK.com 

Posted: 5/31/2008

A proposed Indian casino in Oklahoma City would "virtually destroy” horse racing in Oklahoma, the industry's regulatory agency claims.

In a letter dated Thursday, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission asked U.S. Interior Secretary Dick Kempthorne to kill the Shawnee Tribe's request to build a 2,000-machine casino and 18-story hotel at Interstate 35 and Britton Road.

The agency's letter coincides with a media blitz aimed at urging Oklahomans to contact the federal government before a June 9 comment period ends.

Additionally, Oklahoma City Mayor Mick Cornett joined Oklahoma's two U.S. senators and U.S. Rep. Mary Fallin this week in a letter urging Kempthorne to reject the casino plan.

"We believe the tribe has no legal or historical claim to the current site,” states the letter, signed by Cornett; Fallin, R-Oklahoma City; and U.S. Sens. Tom Coburn, R-Muskogee and Jim Inhofe, R-Tulsa.

The Shawnee Tribe urged potential opponents to withhold judgment until next year, when public comment will be sought at meetings hosted by the federal government.

Tribe officials say the $400 million project would create 1,900 permanent jobs.

Why Oklahoma County?

The angst stems from the Shawnee Tribe's request for Kempthorne to place 104 acres into trust south of Britton Road and west of I-35. Indian casinos in Oklahoma can be built only on trust land.

Here's the rub: Oklahoma County, as part of the Unassigned Lands as determined before statehood, isn't home to any tribes.

The tribe's financial partner bought the land last fall for $4.5 million. The land is 1.7 miles from Remington Park racetrack and casino, which claims a competing casino would put the state's flagship horse track out of business.

The Shawnee Tribe is based in Miami, OK, roughly 185 miles from its proposed casino site. Language in the 2000 congressional legislation essentially requires the tribe to go outside any other tribe's jurisdictional area to obtain trust land. The tribe chose its Oklahoma City site for its potential profitability.

The horse industry's beef is with the "distinct advantages” tribal casinos enjoy over the three "racinos” regulated by the horse racing commission.

A law approved by state voters in 2004 limits Remington Park to 700 machines (750 beginning in 2010). Tribal casinos have no such restriction, nor are they prohibited from offering card games, as the racinos are. The racetrack casinos also have limited hours. Tribal casinos don't.

Horsemen agreed to those conditions in a deal that allowed expanded gambling options in tribal casinos.

More than 70 percent of Remington Park's purse money comes from its casino, according to the commission's letter. Better purses are possible because there is no tribal casino within 20 miles in either direction, the letter states.

Will Rogers, Von Hemel looks for stakes sweep
5/16/2008 4:07:02 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 5/15/2008, 2:45 pm

Marq French and Midsummer Magic will try giving trainer Donnie Von Hemel and jockey Don Pettinger a sweep of the two stakes for Oklahoma-breds at Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa on Saturday.

Marq French could go favored in the $35,000 Oklahoma Thorough-bred Association Classic, while Midsummer Magic might get a perfect pace setup in the $35,000 Cherokee Casino Classic.

Both races are for statebred 3-year-old and up at six furlongs. The Cherokee Casino is restricted to fillies and mares.

Marq French won a stakes the last time he ran against Oklahoma-breds, in the $50,000 Osage Hills at Remington in October. He comes into Saturday off a fourth-place finish in the $50,000 Route 66 at Will Rogers on May 3. Marq French stalked the pace and closed well from an outside post, and could get a similar trip Saturday from post 9.

There appears to be an abundance of speed in the Cherokee Casino, which could set up a late run from Midsummer Magic. Midsummer Magic also won a stakes the last time she ran against Oklahoma-breds, in the $60,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Distaff at Remington in September.

Midsummer Magic could get a stalking trip behind Convincing Music, who has won her last three starts by a combined 16 lengths, as well as Reel Chrome, who drew the rail after setting the pace and finishing third last out in the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller at Will Rogers.

Oklahoma horse industry OK and rising
4/23/2008 12:09:55 PM  -  Associated Press 

Posted on Sun, Apr. 20, 2008

Central Oklahoma is not the usual place one might find a North American top-10 thoroughbred sire.

But Oklahoma horsemen say Lucky Lionel's presence at Diamond G Ranch in Oklahoma's rural Logan County is one more indication that the state's equine industry -- considered by many to be on life-support five years ago -- has made a strong recovery.

"We're on the map," said R.D. Logan, executive director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association. "Since we've got gaming that has enhanced our purses ... we're seeing a lot more people looking at us."

Success stories connected with Oklahoma racing this spring haven't hurt. Lucky Lionel vaulted onto the top 10 on the sire list March 29 when his son, Benny the Bull, won a $2 million race in Dubai.

On April 11, Oklahoma-bred Kip Deville, the winner of last year's Breeders' Cup Mile, won the Grade I Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland, raising his career earnings past the $2.62 million mark.

Denis of Cork has a chance at running in the Kentucky Derby in two weeks for his owners, William and Suzanne Warren of Tulsa.

Within state lines, Oklahoma-bred paint horse Got Country Grip has matched the modern North American record for racehorses with saddled jockeys by recording his 16th straight win.

Saturday's Remington Park Futurity for quarter horses has a purse of $519,000.

"I'm smiling and have a lot of pep in my step these days because of all the good things happening in the Oklahoma horse industry," said Scott Wells, Remington Park general manager, "and I think this is only the tip of the iceberg."

Diamond G Ranch owner Randy Gammill bought Lucky Lionel -- a horse that enjoyed modest success while racing in Europe -- and moved him from Florida to Oklahoma in 2003. Lucky Lionel, who has a $2,500 stud fee, has been one of the state's top sires since his move.

Now, Lucky Lionel's profile has been substantially increased by Benny the Bull, who was bred in Florida but whom his sire's current owners aren't afraid to market.

Within hours of Benny the Bull's win in the Dubai Golden Shaheen, Gammill put together an ad for a major trade publication congratulating the horse's owner, IEAH Stables, said Don Waits, a farm manager at Diamond G Ranch.

Benny the Bull's success has generated more interest from horsemen who are considering breeding mares to Lucky Lionel, who was bred to 44 mares last year. Waits said since the Dubai race, six new mares have been booked.

"People around here will see what he did and he'll pick up a few more mares," Waits said. "Everybody jumps on the bandwagon."

The list of top North American sires is determined by totaling money won by a horse's offspring, and the $1.2 million first prize won by Benny the Bull sent Lucky Lionel from nowhere on the chart to No. 7. As of Thursday, Lucky Lionel still was No. 16 on that list.

It's the first time in recent memory an Oklahoma-based sire has ranked that high. The vast majority of top sires are based in Kentucky.

The Bluegrass State is where another top Oklahoma sire of recent years, Kipling, was moved to this year following the success of his son, Kip Deville, who trails only former Horse of the Year Lady's Secret in career earnings among Oklahoma-bred thoroughbreds.

Kip Deville's trainer, Rick Dutrow Jr., said after the horse won in the Breeders' Cup, the target was to bring the 5-year-old back for an attempt to repeat his 2007 win in the $300,000 Maker's Mark Mile at Keeneland.

"We gave him a couple of months off, just walked him and kept him in the barn," Dutrow said after the race. "When we put the tack back on, every day has been a good day for Kip Deville."

Like Benny the Bull, Kip Deville is owned by IEAH Stables.

One of the horses Kip Deville beat at Keeneland, Zann, is owned by the Warrens, the Tulsa couple who also owned 2005 Horse of the Year Saint Liam. The latter was euthanized in 2006 following a freak accident at Lane's End Farm in Versailles, where he stood at stud.

The Warrens have had one horse run in the Kentucky Derby -- Knockadoon in 1995 -- and Denis of Cork could be the second. He won the Grade III Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., to raise his lifetime record to 3-for-3, but ran a disappointing fifth in the Illinois Derby on April 5.

Denis of Cork entered the weekend 23rd in graded-stakes earnings among 3-year-olds. The top 20 get preference for the Kentucky Derby.

The Warrens "are both very nice people, and although they don't race many horses in the state, we are proud that they are Oklahomans and we want to see them do well," Logan said. "What benefits Oklahomans benefits our horse industry."

Racing Returns to Will Rogers Downs
3/5/2008 8:25:28 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2008 

Racing has resumed in Oklahoma for 2008. After a two-and-one-half month hiatus following the close of Remington Park’s 2007 live meeting, racing returned to Oklahoma at Will Rogers Downs in historic Claremore, Oklahoma on February 23. The Oklahoma HBPA looks forward to a prosperous meet at Will Rogers Downs in 2008.

There have been quite a few changes at the Claremore oval since last year’s meet closed. Will Rogers Downs has made a committed effort to bring racing to the next level. The Thoroughbred horsemen racing there this spring will see a 25% overnight purse increase from 2007, along with the establishment of a stakes schedule in 2008. Even though stakes opportunities may be limited, the addition of those types of races and the copious purse increase in 2008 will better serve the Thoroughbred horsemen of Oklahoma.

In addition to the expansion of the purse structure, Will Rogers Downs track management has also erected a 28-room concrete dormitory building for our backstretch employees. Attracting horsemen to the Tulsa area has long been an arduous task because of the living accommodations for our employees, but this new building will bring the total housing room numbers to over 50 sleeping rooms.

Will Rogers Downs has also refurbished its one mile racetrack since the close of the 2007 meet. The weeks prior to the 2008 opening, the track’s new surface garnered great reviews from Oklahoma horsemen that had been training on it since mid-December.

Remington Park for Sale
3/5/2008 8:25:15 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2008 

As most of the Thoroughbred racing community knows, Magna Entertainment Corp. has put several of its racetrack properties up for sale. Remington Park in Oklahoma City was one of the venues put on the auction block. As press time rolls on this issue, the Oklahoma HBPA does not have any news to report one way or the other. As we constantly monitor the Remington Park situation, the Oklahoma HBPA is fully devoted to protecting the live racing and gaming interests that directly affect the livelihood of our members.

New HBPA Satellite Office at Will Rogers Downs
3/5/2008 8:23:18 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2008 

Along with our main office at Remington Park, we now have a full-time satellite office at Will Rogers Downs. In addition to the satellite office at the Claremore track, the Oklahoma HBPA has contracted with local professionals in the Claremore area for our members’ medical, dental, and optical needs.

Anyone needing assistance, please do not hesitate to contact us. For more information, go to our website at www.okhbpa.com.

Purses, spirits high as Will Rogers Downs opens
2/25/2008 3:19:44 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 2/22/2008, 9:26 am

Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., has improved its purse structure, stakes schedule, and wagering format for its 44-date mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses that opens Saturday. The season will run through May 27.

Will Rogers operates 250 electronic gaming machines, and their success has helped the track boost purses from $107,000 a day last meet to $148,000 a day. Will Rogers is also introducing four Thoroughbred stakes this meet, and has added a pick eight to the wagering menu. The new bet will be on races 4-11, which are all for Thoroughbreds.

Purses for Thoroughbreds are budgeted at $110,000 a day, up from $80,000 a year ago. The increase has helped fill the track's backstretch to capacity, with 614 horses on the grounds. They represent an abundance of trainers, some of them coming from as far away as Washington to this track, which is located 30 miles northeast of Tulsa.

"I think we're going to have a great meet," said Kelly Cathey, track operations manager and racing secretary at Will Rogers. "We have better horses this year. Every year, we have upgraded stock here.

"We're really piquing the interest of people."

Joe Lucas and Kenny Nolen, who tied for leading trainer last year, are back with stables. New faces include trainers Dan Kenny, Carmelo Mendoza, and Randy Oberlander.

Among riders, Nena Matz is back to defend her title in a colony that also includes Alex Birzer and Justin Shepherd. Ricky Frazier is also named to ride.

The track will race on Saturdays, Mondays, and Tuesdays, a slight schedule change from last year designed to enhance simulcast business. The addition of Tuesdays has helped Will Rogers get its signal into 398 sites. Among the new ones are Fair Grounds and Louisiana Downs, Cathey said.

There are 11 stakes scheduled, with the four new stakes the first for Thoroughbreds since Will Rogers reopened for racing in 2006. There are a pair of $50,000 stakes at six furlongs on May 3, and a pair of $35,000 stakes for Oklahoma-breds on May 17.

Mystical Moonlight, who just missed in a $100,000 optional claiming race at Remington Park on Nov. 25, will start as a top contender in the featured eighth race Saturday. The 5 1/2-furlong allowance for fillies and mares has a purse of $25,000.

Golden Hare, the winningest horse in North America in 2007, will make his season debut Monday at Will Rogers. He will be shooting for his seventh straight win in a six-furlong allowance.

Will Rogers adds four Thoroughbred stakes
2/1/2008 11:45:30 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 1/30/2008, 6:15 pm

Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa, Okla., will introduce four stakes for Thoroughbreds during its 44-date mixed meet that opens Feb. 23. The stakes are the first for Thoroughbreds since the track reopened for racing in 2006.

Will Rogers now operates 250 electronic gaming machines. The terminals came on line late in 2005.

Gaming revenue has helped Will Rogers expand its stakes schedule to include four sprints for Thoroughbreds. The $50,000 Route 66 for 3-year-olds and up and the $50,000 Wilma Mankiller for fillies and mares in the same age category will both be run over six furlongs on May 3.

A second set of Thoroughbred stakes will share a program on May 17. The $35,000 Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic is for Oklahoma-bred fillies and mares. The $35,000 OTA Classic is for 3-year-olds and up bred in Oklahoma. Both races will be run at six furlongs, and are designed as preps for the Oklahoma Classics Day program held each year at Remington Park.

In all, there will be 11 stakes this meet at Will Rogers, which also races Quarter Horses and Paints. Purses are budgeted at $148,000 a day, with $110,000 of that amount for Thoroughbreds.

Among the trainers officials expect for the new meet are Joe Lucas, Joe Offolter, Roger Engel, Randy Oberlander, Daniel Kenny, and Carmelo Mendoza.

Will Rogers will race through May 27.

Remington Park concludes live meet with increases
12/7/2007 3:53:49 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: Thursday, December 06, 2007 4:14 PM

Remington Park concluded its 69-day live meeting on December 1 with double-digit increases in attendance and simulcasting mutuel handle compared to last year’s meet, which was run over 68 days.

Total on-track attendance was 402,109, a 23% increase compared to 2006. The daily average attendance of 5,828 increased 21.2% compared to last year.

“The big gains in attendance were largely in group sales,” said Scott Wells, Remington’s vice president and general manager. “We hope that many of those new people will evolve into horseplayers as we help them learn more about playing the game. It all begins with the live racing experience.”

Remington has now posted attendance increases for four-consecutive seasons.

Total wagering on simulcasting during live racing dates was $6,357,539, an 18.2% increase compared to the previous season. Daily average simulcast wagering on live racing dates was $92,138, a 16.5% increase compared to last year.

Total on-track wagering was $5,407,587, a 1.3% increase compared to ’06. The average daily on-track mutuel handle on live racing was $78,370, a figure that is comparable to last year.

Total on-track wagering was $11,765,126, a 9.8% increase compared to ’06. Remington’s all-sources mutuel handle for the meet was $56,805,533, a 17.4% decrease compared to last season.

The mutuel handle on exported Remington races was $39,431,611, a 26% decrease compared to last year’s meet.

Awesome Cat to Paddock in Oklahoma
12/3/2007 2:06:22 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 11/27/2007 2:17:34 PM Last Updated: 11/27/2007 3:14:19 PM

Awesome Cat, an 11-year-old son of Storm Cat, will stand at Paddock Farms near Piedmont, Okla. His fee is $1,500.

Awesome Cat has sired 25 winners, including stakes winner Rochester Cat. He is a half-brother to Canadian champion Talkin Man and additional stakes winner Royal Regalia, and is out of the stakes-winning Miswaki mare Pookette. He formerly stood at Flying H Thoroughbreds in Illinois.

Ocean Terrace to Mighty Acres in OK
12/3/2007 2:05:28 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 11/27/2007 2:22:54 PM Last Updated: 11/27/2007 3:14:09 PM

Stakes winners Ocean Terrace and Wild Tale, plus 7-year-old Ra Ra Superstar, will stand at Dr. Warren Center's Mighty Acres near Pryor, Okla.

Ocean Terrace, a $700,000 Keeneland September yearling, scored his big win in the 2003 El Camino Real Derby (gr. III). A 7-year-old son of Saint Ballado, he is out of the multiple stakes-winning Black Tie Affair mare Crystal River. He formerly stood at Belle Mere Farm near Norman, Okla. His fee is $2,000.

Wild Tale, who will enter stud in 2008, also will stand for $2,000. The 6-year-old son of Tale of the Cat won the 2005 Harvey Arneault Memorial Breeders' Cup Handicap and placed in five stakes. He retired with seven wins and nine placings from 30 races and earnings of $333,030.

Out of the winning Wild Again mare Young and Wild, Wild Tale is from the same female family responsible for grade I winner and successful sire Wild Rush (by Wild Again).

Ra Ra Superstar, who formerly stood at Q6 Ranch near Salado, Texas, is a winning son of Deputy Minister and is from the same female family as prominent sire Awesome Again (by Deputy Minister). Ra Ra Superstar, who is out of the graded stakes-winning Rahy mare Miss Ra He Ra, will stand for $1,500.

Oklahoma-Bred Kip Deville Wins NetJets Breeders' Cup Mile
11/15/2007 1:48:22 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2007 

Kip Deville made Oklahoma Thoroughbred breeders proud on October 27 when the Oklahoma-bred colt raced to victory in the $2 million NetJets Breeders’ Cup Mile (Gr. IT).

Foaled at Dr. Warren Center’s Mighty Acres Farm in Northeastern Oklahoma, Kip Deville broke his maiden at first asking on November 14, 2005 at Remington Park. After one more start at Remington Park, the 4-year-old son of Kipling has made 19 starts at 11 different tracks in the U.S. and Canada.

Kip Deville was purchased for $20,000 by Wayne Cobb at the 2004 Fasig-Tipton Texas August Yearling Sale at Lone Star Park. He was subsequently purchased privately by the IEAH Stables group after winning Lone Star Park’s Grand Prairie Turf Challenge on April 29, 2006.

Kip Deville’s record attests to his preference for the grass. He has nine wins from 21 lifetime starts, and seven of his victories are from 15 starts on the turf. A full 98 percent of his total earnings of $2,434,422 is from races on the grass.

Kelly Von Hemel Showed Well in the Breeders' Cup Sprint for Fillies & Mares
11/15/2007 1:47:19 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2007 

Miss Macy Sue, owned by Roll Reroll Stables, LLC, William Gessman, & Dennis Acbaugh, and trained by Kelly Von Hemel, has been doing well in the Midwest. In the inaugural $1 million Breeders’ Cup Filly & Mare Sprint on October 26, Miss Macy Sue raced between horses in the early stages, steadied in traffic on the far turn, checked while lacking room at the quarter pole, split horses in upper stretch, and rallied to gain third place.

Although primarily racing in Iowa, Von Hemel also races at Remington Park. Kelly serves on the Iowa HBPA Board of Directors and is the younger brother of Donnie Von Hemel, who is a longtime director of the Oklahoma HBPA.

Oklahoma's Centennial
11/15/2007 1:46:16 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2007 

To celebrate Oklahoma’s 100 years as a state, Remington Park added “Centennial” to the Oklahoma Derby. The $300,000, 1 1/8-mile race for three-year-olds was won in convincing style by Going Ballistic. The son of Lite the Fuse is owned by Michael Kindred and Mary Alice Kubes-Kindred of Dallas, Texas. Trained by Donnie Von Hemel, Going Ballistic went into the race off a hard-fought win in the Super Derby (Gr. II) at Louisiana Downs, a race in which he rallied from far back to defeat the favorite, Grasshopper.

By winning the Oklahoma Centennial Derby, Going Ballistic became the first horse to capture both the Remington-MEC Mile and the Oklahoma Derby, the racetrack’s premier events for two-year-olds and three-year-olds, respectively.

Oklahoma 2008 Race Dates
11/15/2007 1:45:25 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2007 

Thoroughbred racing in Oklahoma begins on February 23 at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma. The track will conduct 44 live mixed meet race days, with eight races per day for Thoroughbreds and three races a day for other breeds (e.g., Quarter Horses). The meet will conclude on May 27.

Fair Meadows at Tulsa will conduct 33 mixed meet race days from June 5 through July 26. Each race program will average five Thoroughbred races and seven for other breeds.

Remington Park in Oklahoma City will open its 67-day Thoroughbred meet on August 21 and will conclude on December 14.

Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Oklahoma (near the Arkansas border) has been allotted 67 days of mixed meet racing to be run from August 1 through November. Two Thoroughbred races per day are scheduled.

Synthetic Racing Surface Proposal Draws Ire of OK Horsemen
10/14/2007 6:40:41 PM  -  The Journal Record 

Posted: October 12, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY – Oklahoma’s history with synthetic racing surfaces was an experiment in futility when Remington Park spent a year replacing Equitrack two years after opening with what had been billed as a surface that would greatly reduce injuries on the track.

The extreme Oklahoma heat, however, proved to be too much for the polymer-based surface, which used grains of sand coated with wax. The wax would melt from the heat and then refreeze in clumps, which led to complaints from jockeys about the surface.

Now more than 15 years later, another synthetic surface was the topic of a legislative hearing held at the state Capitol on Thursday as legislators and racing officials talked about the merits of Polytrack.

Jim Pendergest of Martin Collins Surfaces and Footings said this surface was on nine tracks in the U.S. and in Europe with the first U.S. track coming on board three years ago at Turfway Park in Kentucky. Pendergest talked about the benefits of the surface, including horse safety, labor costs, and competitiveness.

Dr. Joe Carter, an Oklahoma veterinarian who has been active in the horse racing industry, said public outrage could ultimately drive the tracks to use this surface in the future. He said the numbers that showed dramatic decreases in catastrophic breakdowns of horses were enough to encourage the proactive approach of requiring this type of surface.

“What you can’t forget is the horse in this whole thing,” Carter said. “If we as a horse industry take care of the horse, then the public will turn around and take care of us.”

Carter insisted that the surfaces were responsible for the majority of horse injuries, but Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, said annual reports had shown that this was not the case. She said horses not being fit or other reasons were far more responsible for injuries.

“I would say to you they are not because of track surfaces,” Schauf said.

Scott Wells, general manager of Remington Park, said he was in favor of looking at the surface as a potential racing track for the future in an effort to promote horse safety. He said the latest synthetic surface addressed some of the drainage flaws that occurred with the Equitrack but said he wasn’t ready to endorse it just yet. Wells said he was “astonished and dismayed” when California took the drastic step of mandating the surface for all of its tracks.

While most of those in attendance praised Remington Park as having one of the top dirt tracks in the nation, Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission Director Constantin Rieger said both Will Rogers and Blue Ribbon Downs had been forced by the commission to upgrade their tracks in the past two years. Rieger said this was the enforcement tool the agency had in requiring a safe racing surface at the tracks.

Rieger said the synthetic racing surface costs ranged from $5 million to $12 million, although he said he was unsure about the costs of having to replace or upgrade. Rieger pointed out that jockeys had to learn to ride differently and that the Polytrack surface was in its infancy as a racing surface.

Oklahoma horse racing organizations were opposed to jumping to conclusions on the benefits of the Polytrack. Schauf said Polytrack had only been used on tracks with thoroughbred racing, and that there had been no testing or experimenting regarding the effect on quarter horses, appaloosas, or paints. Schauf said she had “grave concerns” with requiring this type of surface on all Oklahoma tracks with such little history behind the surface.

Joe Lucas of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association said he had just returned from Keeneland in Kentucky, where three horses broke down on the Polytrack surface over the weekend. Lucas said he wasn’t sure where he stood on evaluating the surface, but he said it was way too early to be talking about forcing Oklahoma racing tracks to use that type of surface.

“It’s a reaction that’s not warranted at this time,” Lucas said, adding that every racing surface had its pros and cons. “It’s an evolving situation. There’s issues with every one of them.”

Former legislator Jim Glover, who had his hands in most legislation involving horse racing during his 26 years in the state House of Representatives, concluded the discussion by comparing the issue to seatbelts. He said eventually it was obvious that they saved lives and that there was benefit to mandating them, but said that it took years for people to understand that it was the proper thing to do. He encouraged legislators to show that same patience when considering this issue, as well.

Remington Park-Oklahoma Derby takes shape
10/14/2007 6:26:49 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 10/12/2007, 6:34 pm

Going Ballistic, who pulled a mild upset last month in the Grade 2 Super Derby, figures to be favored next week in the $300,000 Oklahoma Derby. Nominations for the Oct. 21 race at Remington Park were to close late Friday. Going Ballistic is one of a handful of early probables for the 1o1/8-mile derby, which also is expected to attract Forty Acres.

Strong City is another who is likely to start. A stablemate of Going Ballistic, he was third to Forty Acres in the $100,000 Prelude at Louisiana Downs on Aug. 18. In his most recent start, Strong City closed for fifth in the Super Derby. Following the race it was found he had an abscess in his left front foot.

"We got that taken care of," said Donnie Von Hemel, who trains Strong City and Going Ballistic. "He breezed a few days ago, and we hope to have him ready to go."

Von Hemel said Quincy Hamilton will ride Strong City and Cliff Berry will be aboard Going Ballistic. Going Ballistic is 1 for 1 over the main track at Remington, winning the $100,000 MEC Mile in 2006.

This year's Oklahoma Derby was moved to a Sunday for the first time since 2004. The purse was increased from $250,000.

Also on the derby card are three undercard stakes, and Remington has scheduled three stakes for Saturday night.

The stakes on Saturday are restricted to fillies and mares, while the Sunday stakes are open to both genders.

"We'll have the girls' night out, and the boys can rumble on football Sunday," said Fred Hutton, the racing secretary at Remington.

Remington: D Fine Okie to Ada?

The filly D Fine Okie, who defeated males in the $100,000 Oklahoma Classics Day Classic, could make her next start Saturday night in the $50,000 Ada at Remington, said Von Hemel, who trains her. She is one of several possible stakes starters he will have over the weekend.

Whisper to Me and Midsummer Magic, both recent stakes winners, might run in the $75,000 Remington Park Oaks on Saturday, Von Hemel said. Then next Sunday, Waupaca and Notable Okie are eyeing the $100,000 Remington Green; Cryptographer might go in the $100,000 MEC Mile; and Explosive Okie and Gone Missing are under consideration for the $75,000 Remington Park Sprint.

The three Sunday stakes, plus with the Oklahoma Derby, probably will form an all-stakes pick four, Hutton said. Entries for the Oklahoma Derby card will be taken on Friday.

Earlier in the Year
9/16/2007 12:47:14 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2007 

Purses for Thoroughbreds at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Oklahoma were increased before the 42-day meet concluded on May 28. There were eight Thoroughbred races each day, with one race day canceled due to bad weather. Purses exceeded the target of $10,000 per race, and no stakes races were carded.

Forty percent of races were for Thoroughbreds at the 33-day (actually, all but one program was at night) Fair Meadows at Tulsa mixed breeds meet. There was an average of five Thoroughbred races for each program. Purses averaged just under $10,000 per race, which included two black-type stakes.

Cassity Filling Executive Director Role
9/16/2007 12:46:29 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2007 

Justin Cassity has been filling the role of OHBPA/TRAO Executive Director since July 1. As a fifth-generation horseman, Justin has a breadth of experience in the horse racing industry. Before coming to Oklahoma from Chicago, Justin was consulting with several states to improve returns to horsemen from simulcasting. Previously, he was executive director of the Illinois Thoroughbred Horsemen’s Association after stints as a groom, trainer, racing secretary, director of racing, jockey agent, etc.

For horsemen and racing in Oklahoma, Justin’s mission is to: 1) improve OHBPA/TRAO’s operations and delivery of services; 2) move partnerships between OHBPA/TRAO and the racetracks to the next level; 3) increase revenue from dissemination of each racetrack’s simulcast signal; and, 4) facilitate contribution of an equitable share of handle on interstate simulcasts at all off-track betting (OTB) locations in the state to Oklahoma horsemen.

Benevolence Increases
9/16/2007 12:45:34 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2007 

Benevolence, the most important benefit provided to horsemen, has been increased to: $2,500 for medical (includes prescriptions), $250 for dental, and $200 for vision/optical expenses. Also, assistance on a case-by-case basis is provided for funerals. OHBPA/TRAO members and their full-time employees (licensed by OHRC), as well as dependents of owners, trainers, and assistant trainers, are eligible. The limit per family has been increased to $4,000.

It is emphasized this is not meant to replace health insurance or worker’s compensation. Benevolence is an assistance program made possible by deductions from purses earned by member-owners.

$80,000 in benevolence assistance was provided last year. With the increased levels for 2007, horsemen will be able to help horsemen to possibly as much as $90,000. There is neverending gratitude and appreciation to the owners who make it possible by not “opting-out” of OHBPA/TRAO.

Oklahoma-Bred Increases
9/16/2007 12:44:20 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2007 

With purses already at an all-time high, the Fall meet at Remington Park (August 2 – December 1) started by increasing supplements for Oklahoma-bred runners by 20%. By increasing the percentage of revenue from gaming that goes to purses for state-bred runners, available supplements of more than $700,000 have been added to all overnight purses for Thoroughbreds. The top three finishers that are accredited Oklahoma-breds receive a share of the bonus supplement, which averages almost $3,900 for each race at Remington Park.

Bonus supplements for Oklahoma-bred Thoroughbreds at Blue Ribbons Downs’ August 10 – December 9 mixed breeds race meet were increased by a similar percentage for the two Thoroughbred races each race day.

What's in a Name?
9/16/2007 12:43:30 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2007 

Practically everybody having anything to do with horse racing knows of the services and benefits provided by the HBPA. While the majority of Thoroughbred horsemen in Oklahoma understand and are supportive of the association’s mission, the media, politicians and general public do not connect the name “Oklahoma Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association” (OHBPA) with horse racing.

During the ultimately successful campaign to allow electronic gaming at racetracks in Oklahoma, OHBPA started doing business as the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma (TRAO). It is still the same organization and continues to provide the same benefits and services akin to other HBPA affiliates. To horsemen, the association will always be the HBPA, use of TRAO as an identifier is primarily for those outside the horse racing industry.

Customer Wins in Racing Commission Ruling
8/29/2007 9:52:22 AM  -  Oklahoma Journal Record 

Posted: August 23, 2007

OKLAHOMA CITY – On May 23, customer David Alsip bought a ticket at Remington Park placing a $108 Pick-4 wager on a simulcast race to be held that day at Hollywood Park in California. But when Alsip later went to collect his expected $853 in winnings, he was instead offered a $108 refund.

A telecommunications failure in Ohio created a problem for Oklahoma City’s Remington Park. Racetrack officials expressed their concern last week over the perceived precedent the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission set with their ruling in the case, which grapples with a seemingly contradictory commission rule.

Wagers made at Remington Park are relayed to the Ohio hub of AmTote, an international supplier of wagering systems software and hardware for the pari-mutuel wagering industry now owned by Remington Park’s parent company, Magna Entertainment. In turn, the AmTote Ohio hub relays the wagers to the racetracks hosting simulcast races.

Remington Park successfully relayed Alsip’s wager to the AmTote Ohio hub, but AmTote suffered a total communications failure at roughly the same time the race at Hollywood Park was scheduled to begin. The phone lines at the AmTote Ohio hub were inoperable for about three hours.

Gregg Scoggins, national director of regulatory affairs for Magna Entertainment Corp., said the proper course of action was to offer customers a refund on their tickets, since their wagers were never merged into the pool for the races they bet on.

“We don’t know how they would have affected the odds,” said Scroggins. Remington Park did not make any money from the lost wagers, since the track only gets commission on wagers that are merged into the pool, he said. The racetrack denied Alsip’s claim in light of the precedent that might be set.

“If we paid him, we’d have everyone else saying ‘we want the highest track odds,’” he said.

According to Horse Racing Commission rules, the racetrack had two options. The rule states that if, for any reason, the bets placed at the racetrack cannot be merged into the common pool, the racetrack “shall make payoffs in accordance with payoff prices that would have been in effect if prices for the pool of bets were calculated without regard to wagers placed elsewhere.”

However, the rules provide that, with the permission of the Commission, the racetrack may decide whether to pay winning tickets at payoff prices or void the bets and refund the purchase price of the tickets. Alsip questioned the reasoning of a rule that allows for two very different outcomes depending only upon the commission’s permission.

Remington Park regarded a letter issued by former commission director Gordon Hare in 2003, granting the track permission to issue refunds for a specific instance that year, as granting permission for future instances as well. Due to the communications failure on May 23, the track had to refund more than 1,000 tickets totaling $14,600. As of June 30, the track had refunded all but about 400 tickets valued at $3,000, notifying customers of the incident with a sign posted at the racetrack.

The commission held a hearing on Alsip’s claim at its August meeting. Scroggins said the AmTote representative was prevented from attending the meeting because a family member was undergoing chemotherapy treatment, but that AmTote had filed a complaint against telecommunications provider AT&T.

Commissioners questioned representatives of the racetrack at length, and objected to the lack of hard evidence presented to the commission regarding the communications failure.

“This is the classic definition of ‘hearsay,’” said member Randy Calvert. “We need someone who can present the facts of the case.” Track officials assured commissioners that in the future, notice of the policy of refunding wagers that are not merged will be posted in a place where customers can read of the policy before making a wager.

The commission ruled that Remington Park did not adequately present evidence to support its case, and ordered the racetrack to pay Alsip the amount he would have won had his bet been merged, $853.

Remington Park - Lady Blue Sky nails 10th straight win
8/22/2007 4:40:52 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 8/18/2007, 4:11 pm

Lady Blue Sky won her 10th straight race Friday night at Remington Park. The victory was her eight of the year and ties her with Princess Composer as the horse with the most victories in the country this year.

Lady Blue Sky her streak last October in the Richmond Stakes at Hoosier Park. Since then, she has won a second stakes as well as a mix of starter races and optional claimers, mostly in the Midwest.

On Friday night, Lady Blue Sky won a $5,000 starter by a length under Luis Quinonez. Lady Blue Sky is a 5-year-old Indiana-bred mare.

“I am going to keep her in the starter races,” said Don Roberson, who co-owns and trains Lady Blue Sky. “In September, there are a couple of races for her in Indiana.”

Organizers Pleased With Oklahoma Yearling Sale
8/20/2007 3:59:12 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 8/19/2007 6:25:27 PM Last Updated: 8/20/2007 1:13:45 AM

Organizers of the first Oklahoma City Summer Thoroughbred Yearling Sale, which produced a sale-topper that sold for $50,000, indicated the results are a sign of good things to come.

For the Aug. 18 event, 70 yearlings were cataloged, 65 were auctioned, and 40 were sold. Gross was $333,900 and average $8,348, according to a release. The repurchase rate was 38%.

An Oklahoma-bred filly consigned by Celestial Acres topped the sale at $50,000. The filly, by Harlan’s Holiday--Culver City, by Afleet, was a homebred raised by Tom Orr’s Celestial Acres in Moore, Okla. The filly was purchased by Richard Eldo Staerkel, who plans to race her next year for record purses at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

The leading consignor was Kelly/Yearsley Equine, which sold seven of eight horses consigned for $127,700. “Being Oklahoma-bred easily added $5,000 to $10,000 to the value of each our horses” Nancy Yearsley said.

The leading buyers were Wayne and Norma Stockseth, who purchased two horses for $54,000. Both horses are Oklahoma-breds nominated to the Oklahoma Classics.

“We were buying to get in the Oklahoma-bred program,” Norma Stockseth said. “It is better for us to race on this circuit.”

After the sale, the Stockseths topped off their day when one of their horses won a $31,000 allowance race at Remington. Revenue from gaming machines at Remington has allowed the track to raise purses to all-time-high levels.

Remington Park TB Purses on the Rise
8/5/2007 2:03:24 PM  -  Remington Park release 

Posted: 8/1/2007

OKLAHOMA CITY – Already a lucrative racing proposition, the 2007 Remington Park Thoroughbred Season is getting richer, even before it gets started, as horsemen’s purses have been increased.

Remington Park and the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Benevolent & Protective Association, also known as the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, are proud to announce an increase of more than $700,000 in available Oklahoma-bred Fund purse money. This increase will be in effect for Opening Night, Aug. 2 at Remington Park.

The increase in available Oklahoma-bred Fund money will be realized immediately. The purse hike goes into effect beginning with the very first race of the Remington Park season tomorrow. The increase is applicable to all overnight races (non-stakes events) in the upcoming season.

Starting near $185,000 in average daily purses for the Remington Park Thoroughbred Season, the mark is above the record-level established during the 2006 meeting.

“This is the beginning of a new era in Oklahoma horse racing,” said Joe Lucas, President of the TRAO. “This increase in Oklahoma-bred Fund money is an indication of great things to come.”

The Oklahoma-bred Fund money serves as a bonus supplement to all Remington Park purses and is awarded to the top three finishers in a race, provided they are an eligible and accredited Oklahoma-bred.

The upward trend in purse monies is another example of the success of the Remington Park Casino operation. The casino generates revenue for horsemen’s purse accounts, as well as money for the State of Oklahoma Education Fund.

Since the opening of the Remington Park Casino in late 2005, more than $12 Million has been realized for Oklahoma Education.

The 69-date Remington Park Thoroughbred Season begins Aug. 2 and continues thru Dec. 1. The normal race card will consist of at least nine races. Regular post times for Thursday, Friday and Saturday racing is 6:30 p.m. with Sunday afternoon racing at 1:30 p.m.

Remington Park is open daily at 10 a.m. for simulcast racing and casino gaming.

A division of MEC, Magna Entertainment Corp., Remington Park is Oklahoma City’s only Racetrack & Casino, located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District. For more information, reservations and group bookings please call 405-424-1000, 866-456-9880 or visit remingtonpark.com.

Oklahoma Authorities Raid Illegal Horse Track
8/5/2007 1:51:16 PM  -  The Associated Press  

Posted: 7/30/2007

Authorities raided a horse racing operation suspected of running illegal races just north of the Oklahoma-Texas border Sunday in the culmination of an undercover investigation.

Constantin Rieger, the executive director of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, said approximately 100 people were arrested at the track near Thackerville in southern Oklahoma.

Rieger said authorities believe Jesse Romero of Thackerville had been living on the property where the races were held and was the primary operator of the races. Romero faced charges of illegal gambling and illegal operation of a racetrack, and could face other counts, Rieger said.

The arrests came after more than 400 people were processed by authorities at the track located near the first exit north of the Texas border on Interstate 35, Oklahoma Highway Patrol Trooper Kera Philippi said.

"I think there's a clear message that will be sent to all other illegal operations in this state, and there are many," said spokeswoman Jessica Brown of the Oklahoma State Bureau of Investigation, which assisted with the raid.

About 200 law enforcement officials, including about 160 from the Department of Public Safety, took part in the raid that started around 5 p.m. Philippi said all of the people at the track were processed by authorities to determine if they were involved in the operation or merely spectators.

The Oklahoma Highway Patrol surrounded the track to prevent anyone from fleeing and set up portable fingerprinting stations to help process the arrests.

Rieger said the organizers were holding "match races" on a straightaway generally featuring two horses against each other. Those found to be involved would face charges of operating an illegal horse racing operation, gambling, racketeering, and money laundering, Rieger said. Others were also being charged with flight from officers and resisting arrest.

"It's an illegal operation, no matter whether you're betting on the horses or running the thing," Brown said.

Brown said officials found a racing form listing seven races planned for Sunday. She said more than $100,000 in cash and about 100 horses were seized in the raid. The state Agriculture Department was on hand to deal with the racehorses.

"These are well cared-for animals in racing condition," Rieger said.

Remington Park - Barn area opens for eagerly awaited meet
7/8/2007 7:10:38 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 7/4/2007, 6:35 pm

Kari Craddock, who trains stakes winner Annie Savoy, was one of the first trainers to move horses into Remington Park in Oklahoma City when the stable area opened on Monday. The track's 69-date meet will get under way on Aug. 2. Remington was to open for training on Thursday.

"I'll be the first one on the track," said Craddock, who is looking forward to what is shaping up to be one of the most anticipated meets in the history of Remington.

The track, which opened a casino in November 2005, is expected to draw a strong contingent of horsemen. Donnie Von Hemel, who won his 12th title Remington title in 2006, will be back to head a group that includes Bret Calhoun, the leader at Lone Star Park. Steve Asmussen, who as of Wednesday morning ranked second in the nation in trainer wins, just two off Scott Lake, also plans to have a large division at Remington.

"They granted me 40 stalls," said Asmussen.

Cliff Berry, who has won 11 riding titles at Remington, will head a jockey colony deep in newcomers. Ramsey Zimmerman, who leads the standings at Lone Star, is expected for the meet, as is Eddie Martin Jr., who recently moved his tack back to this region after riding in New York.

The first official trainer through the stable gate Monday was F.L. Downey, who bedded down six runners.

Another Service to Horsemen Yields Results
6/6/2007 11:54:00 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2007 

Early in 2007, the Oklahoma HBPA/TRAO began an effort to provide direct assistance to members as they went through the complicated process of obtaining renewals of H2B work visas for their employees. Previously, the TRAO was only able to give referrals to immigration lawyers who specialized in racetrack and farm-related cases, but new immigration laws have made this process more difficult.

Last fall, Oklahoma City attorney Michael Brooks-Jimenez began meeting with dozens of trainers and over 100 workers based at Remington Park. Consequently, the necessary application documents were submitted prior to the November 1, 2006 deadline. This significant component of the application process allowed Oklahoma to be one of only two states in the U.S. to be allowed to petition for a group worker force (Arizona is the other). Savings for the collective applicants was substantial and reduced individual costs for the applicants.

Upon acceptance of the labor certification, the Mexican Consulate notified applicants that their interviews were to begin on April 17, 2007. Mr. Brooks-Jimenez and two members of his staff met with the applicants and immigration agents in Mexico and successfully secured approval for temporary visas for nearly 90% of the workers who applied.

Shortly after the interview date, a large number of these individuals had returned to work for Oklahoma-based trainers stabled at Will Rogers Downs, Lone Star Park, Prairie Meadows, etc. Another dozen workers have interview dates pending, and that could easily push the total number of workers approved for Oklahoma-based trainers to over 80. In addition, over 40 more “unnamed” renewal openings were listed on the petition to allow for additional H2B visa issues should more individuals be identified and sponsored by TRAO members.

With federal “caps” being lowered and with increased competition from the landscaping and entertainment sectors, immigrant labor is becoming increasingly difficult to retain for the horse racing and breeding industry. Referring to the assistance of Mr. Brooks-Jimenez and his staff, one trainer said that this was, “as important as anything [the TRAO] has ever done.”

However, new immigration laws are pending that will change the current procedures in acquiring temporary work visas. The TRAO will continue working with government agencies to help members maintain a qualified work force.

New sales offered this fall in Southwest
5/28/2007 10:45:26 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: Thursday, May 24, 2007 6:00 PM

Two new yearling sales and one mixed sale will be offered this fall in Oklahoma and Louisiana by three different sales companies.

Carter Sales Co. will present the first of the three sales on August 18 at the Oklahoma State Fairgrounds in Oklahoma City. Entries for the sale close on June 8.

The second sale will be held on October 1 at the Louisiana State Fairgrounds in Shreveport, Louisiana. The Louisiana Thoroughbred Breeders Sales Co., located in Carencro, Louisiana, is in charge of the sale. Entries close on July 13.

The final sale will be a two-day yearling and mixed sale, which previously was hosted by Breeders Sales Co. of Louisiana Inc. at Louisiana Downs, will take place on October 15 and 16 at its new location, the Ike Hamilton Expo Center in West Monroe, Louisiana. Entry deadline is July 6. For more information on this sale, visit www.theike.com or www.labred.com.

Will Rogers Downs: Two Oklahoma-bred races added
4/26/2007 4:54:43 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 4/25/2007, 5:04 pm

Will Rogers Downs has added two $25,000 Oklahoma-bred races for Thoroughbreds to its schedule, and both will be run May 12. The track worked with the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association to develop the races, which are designed to serve as stepping-stones to the Oklahoma Classics Day program this fall at Remington Park.

The OTA Classic Prep is for 3-year-olds and up at six furlongs. The Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs Classic Prep is for fillies and mares at six furlongs. Both races have $5,000 in added funds available to Oklahoma-breds eligible to the Oklahoma Classics.

The Oklahoma Classics Day card will expand to eight races this year, with the new race being a sprint for fillies and mares over 6 1/2 furlongs. The OTA also has announced plans to increase the purses of five of the Oklahoma Classics Day stakes this year to $60,000.

* Curtis Kimes, who won the 1,000th race of his career in the fifth race here last Saturday, is represented by former trainer Chuck Turco. Among the top horses Turco trained are Dazzling Falls, a winner of the Arkansas Derby, and multiple sprint stakes winner Highland Ice.

OK-Simulcast splits set for Remington Park, Fair Meadows
4/17/2007 4:21:44 PM  -  Heather Warlick 

Posted: 04/10/2007

(OPT) The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission held a special meeting Tuesday and took action on a controversial issue that has been an ongoing battle between the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association for months.

The matter of simulcast racing revenue distribution has been put to rest at two of Oklahoma's racetracks, at least for this year. At Remington Park, a 90/10 split will hold and at Fair Meadows at Tulsa, 80/20.

The meeting was called to determine whether the OQHRA had a valid complaint when Remington Park approved a change in the simulcast revenue distribution structure for 2007. What was formerly an 80/20 split of revenue, with 80 percent of simulcast revenue going to the Thoroughbreds and 20 percent to Quarter Horses, Appaloosas and Paints was changed to a 90/10 split at Remington Park.

Despite opposition by the OQHRA, the commission decided during the March meeting "to take preliminary action to instruct staff to prepare an order which states that OQHRA lacks standing to bring its motion until Remington Park has violated the overpayment/underpayment schedule set forth in its license."

The commission continued deliberations regarding OQHRA's request Tuesday. After comments from attorneys representing the TRAO, OQHRA and Remington Park, the commission convened in executive session that lasted nearly an hour. They came back with a verdict that the commission would adopt the order proposed at the previous meeting as drafted, meaning the 90/10 simulcast revenue split at Remington Park will stand.

Commissioners also considered a request from Fair Meadows at Tulsa for approval of its proposed simulcast distribution structure. The commission received a letter March 6 from Ron Shotts, director of racing at Fair Meadows, which proposed a simulcast purse split of 50/40/10, with 50 percent going to Thoroughbreds, 40 percent to Quarter Horses and 10 to Paints and Appaloosas, which mirrors the simulcast purse split at Fair Meadows last year.

At the last commission meeting, Chairman Randy Calvert imposed a deadline of April 4 for the filing of any motions by interested parties. In a letter from Fair Meadows, dated April 4, Shotts pointed out that financial commitments had been made to the Quarter Horse Futurities and Derbies and to the Appaloosa and Paint Futurities and Derbies and that "it has been the past position of the OHRC that once purse amounts in nomination payment races had been advertised and nominations received, the amount of money advertised or the conditions of the race could not be changed."

Any change in the simulcast split, he said, would cause a reduction in the purses for those breeds and would have to be reflected in overnight races only.

At Tuesday's meeting, however, Shotts said the Fair Meadows Board did not wish to take a stance on the proposed split and would prefer to leave that decision up to the Commission. This caused Calvert to question if the Fair Meadows Board had actually proposed the 50/40/10 split and whether board members were doing their jobs or just leaving the job to the commission.

Mark Ramsey, legal counsel for TRAO, said that, since no agreement can be made between the horsemen's associations and the Fair Meadows Board does not stand behind its original request, he proposed a 93/7 split on behalf of the TRAO which brought a reaction from the gallery ranging from laughter to "whatever" and groans. Calvert pounded his gavel and demanded respect for each speaker.

In an April 4 hearing brief from TRAO, Ramsey said the proposed 93/7 split is "based on the breed which provides the source of revenue from simulcast racing." TRAO argued that the split would increase Thoroughbred purses and that Remington Park's Thoroughbred purses currently do not rank higher than 25 percent of the national average daily purse for Thoroughbreds. But he said the Quarter Horse purses at Remington Park are "among the highest in the region and nation."

Joseph Bocock, counsel for the OQHRA, presented a slideshow filled with figures that represent the earnings and representation of the different breeds at Oklahoma's racetracks and their comparisons to tracks nationwide. He said changing the simulcast split could virtually wipe out the Quarter Horse racing industry in Oklahoma because the purses would be drastically reduced.

Despite Bocock's fight for the Quarter Horses, the commission reconvened after an extended executive session and voted in favor of an 80/20 split at Fair Meadows.

The next regularly scheduled commission meeting is set for 9:30 a.m. May 17 in the Shepherd Mall Activity Center.

Racing Commission Meeting on February 15, 2007
3/13/2007 3:45:45 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2007 

The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) met in Oklahoma City on February 15. Its first action was to decide approval for three testing laboratory licenses for gaming machines at racetracks. Three of Oklahoma’s racetracks utilize the services of these laboratories, and the OHRC granted unanimous approval to renew each lab’s license.

In other action, the OHRC voted to add yet another member to the Oklahoma-Bred Advisory Council (OBAC) by granting the request of Oklahoma Appaloosa Racing (OAR) to become a voting member. The Oklahoma HBPA, as well as the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association, opposed this appointment as it further skews the number of council members towards the non-Thoroughbred breeds of the state.

In a related vote, the OHRC voted to accept the recommendation from the OBAC that registration fees for Oklahoma-breds will now be divided according to the respective breed’s registration fees that are collected, rather than the 50/50 formula that had previously been used. Since the “other breeds” in Oklahoma register more horses each year than do Thoroughbreds, a gain in their breeder awards will be realized. Hopefully, the OHRC will apply similar logic for dividing simulcast revenue according to the breed that is responsible for generating that source of revenue, as well.

The Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association (OQHRA) had asked the OHRC to confirm or ratify each racetrack’s proposed purse allocations in their respective 2007 condition books. This action was requested in an attempt to halt any possible changes in how simulcast wagering might be distributed in 2007. Following lengthy discussion and presentations by the OQHRA, the OHBPA, and all four racetracks, the OHRC voted not to ratify the published purse levels. As such, the debate over the simulcast revenue will continue to be addressed by the Ad Hoc committee that Chairman Randy Calvert had previously formed to evaluate the subject last month.

The OQHRA had also challenged the validity of Will Rogers Downs’ 2007 racing and gaming licenses based on the contention that an agreement on the number of races to be offered for the “other breeds” had not been agreed to by the OQHRA. After lengthy discussion and evidence of a written correspondence by the OQHRA to Will Rogers Downs which approved the same number of races as 2006, the OHRC was not satisfied that an identifiable issue existed. Therefore, the OHRC voted to strike the item from the agenda.

Finally, on the issue of 2007 horsemen’s agreements not yet being signed by the racetracks or horsemen, the OHRC exercised its authority to bind three tracks (Will Rogers Downs, Blue Ribbon Downs, and Remington Park) to operate under their 2006 agreements, with silence on the simulcast distribution question until that issue has been resolved.

Business was concluded and the meeting was adjourned shortly before 12:00 noon. The next meeting of the OHRC is scheduled for 9:30 a.m. on March 22 , 2007 and will be held at Remington Park.

Will Rogers Downs Kicked Off 2007 Racing in Oklahoma
3/13/2007 3:43:24 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2007 

Will Rogers Downs in Claremore was first to kick off the 2007 live racing season in Oklahoma on February 24. Amid a great deal of anticipation, horsemen have been eagerly awaiting a chance to compete on the all new one mile oval. Construction of the track was delayed several times due to an unusually harsh winter experienced in Oklahoma this year, but the forecast for milder weather looks promising for the start of the 42-day race meet.

The meet at Will Rogers Downs is scheduled to run Saturdays, Sundays and Mondays through May 28. The race composition will be eight (8) Thoroughbred races per day, with average purses totaling $80,000 per day. Those eight races will be preceded by three (3) Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa races each day.

Racing Secretary Kelly Cathey welcomed Josh Van Oort as the new assistant racing secretary. Van Oort has worked as an official at Prairie Meadows in Iowa and at Zia Park in New Mexico, but he is no stranger to Oklahoma, having worked with local trainers Charley Hunt and John Hall.

Cathey looks forward to leading his second season in the live and simulcast racing operations. Since January of 2006, gaming revenue for purses has increased from just over $60,000 per month to over $120,000 – an increase of 100% – from a mere 250 machines.

Will Rogers Downs, set in the heart of Green Country in Northeastern Oklahoma, offers the perfect backdrop for a spring race meet, with rolling hills and endless blue sky enhancing the entertainment experience. Following a sporadic live racing history that dates back to 1987, Will Rogers Downs seeks to establish an enviable position in Oklahoma’s springtime racing calendar.

This is already evidenced by the fact horsemen from Nebraska, Colorado, Oklahoma, Texas, and Arkansas have been drawn to the facility this year.

Competition has already shown to be tough, as it did a year ago. With the new track surface in place, Will Rogers Downs should be host to a successful and exciting 2007 season. For more information on Will Rogers Downs, an application, condition book, trainer and jockey standings, or overnights and results, visit www.cherokeecasino.com/will_rogers_downs/races.aspx or call (918) 283-8812.

Fair Meadows at Tulsa will begin its 2007 meeting on June 7 and runs through July 28. Again - Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, and Paint and Appaloosa racing will be offered but will feature a four-day race week format, Thursday through Sunday.

Thoroughbreds will have four (4) races per night, for average purses of $45,000 per race card.

Will Rogers Downs: Big Purses, New Track Bring 'Em In
2/25/2007 9:41:29 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted 2/22/2007, 6:54 pm

Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., is poised for significant growth when it opens its 42-day mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses on Saturday. The track's simulcast network has grown dramatically since the same meet a year ago, and response to its richer racing program and renovated racing surface has led to an oversubscribed stable area.

This all comes just a year after Will Rogers reopened its doors - it had last raced in 2001 - following the sale of the track to Cherokee Nation Enterprises. The new owners have put $4 million in improvements into the 238-acre plant since purchasing it in 2004. Will Rogers is home to 250 electronic gaming machines, which have helped put average daily purses at $107,000, with $80,000 of that amount divided among the eight daily races for Thoroughbreds.

"We're excited and ready to get going," said Kelly Cathey, track operations manager for Will Rogers, which is located 22 miles northeast of Tulsa.

Cathey said Will Rogers sent its races to 58 simulcast sites last year, and this year the track's races will go to more than 300 sites. The new lineup includes sites in Canada, Florida, Illinois, New Hampshire, and South America.

In another area of growth, there were applications for 2,500 horses for the 570 stalls at Will Rogers. "We had triple the stall applications from a year ago," Cathey said.

Among the noted trainers set to compete are Martin Lozano, who won the title last year, and Roger Engel, Joe Lucas, and Joe Offolter.

"A lot of these guys are Oklahoma trainers who have been training elsewhere, like Texas, and they want to stay home and run," said Cathey.

Will Rogers became more appealing to some horsemen after it rebuilt the base of its one-mile oval since last meet. The track had been dormant for four years before its reopening in 2005, and some horsemen expressed concern over inconsistencies in the surface. Will Rogers brought on Dennis Moore, track superintendent at Hollywood Park, as a consultant on the project, which was completed in early February.

The number of jockeys at the meet has grown from 16 to 29, said Cathey. Nena Matz is back to defend her title in a colony that also includes Alex Birzer, Kevin Cogburn, Curtis Kimes, and Benny Landeros.

Will Rogers will run seven stakes for mixed breed horses this meet, each worth $25,000. There are also discussions of adding a day of races restricted to Oklahoma-bred Thoroughbreds this meet, Cathey said.

* Annieville, runner-up in an optional claimer last out, and Shari Bank, a statebred stakes winner in her last start, are the top contenders in the featured eighth race, a $20,000 allowance, on Saturday.

Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse groups fight over simulcast revenues
2/7/2007 8:44:16 AM  -  The Journal Record 

Posted: 1/26/2007

OKLAHOMA CITY – Now that there is more money to be made in Oklahoma’s horse racing industry, two horsemen’s groups are beginning to battle over how some of the new revenue should be divided among them.

Members of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma and the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association agree that State Question 712 turned the horse industry in Oklahoma around. Approved in 2004, SQ 712 allowed racetracks to offer electronic gaming machines and provided horsemen a portion of gaming revenues the state receives from American Indian tribes.

“The landscape in Oklahoma has changed considerably” since SQ 712 passed, Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma President Joe Lucas told members of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission at their meeting on Thursday. Since the measure was approved, the amount of money available to offer as prizes has surged from $10 million to $35 million, putting Oklahoma back in the running to compete with other states in the region.

Now that there is plenty of money available for everyone, said Lucas, the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma is requesting that thoroughbreds be allocated a greater percentage of simulcast revenues. More than 90 percent of all simulcast wagers made in Oklahoma are placed on thoroughbred races, yet thoroughbred horsemen receive only about 65 percent of simulcast revenue, said Lucas.

“Let us live and grow on what our industry and our investments are producing,” Lucas said to the commission. In past years, it made sense to “subsidize” other horse breeds with simulcast revenues, said Lucas. But now that Oklahoma is considered one of the best states for quarter horses, it’s time to redirect more funds to the thoroughbred industry, which currently is suffering from a shortage of horses.

Other states, such as Arkansas and Louisiana, currently allocate the majority of simulcast dollars to thoroughbreds, he said, and those states may lure away breeders and owners from Oklahoma.

Bill Walmsley, vice president of the southern region of the National Horsemen’s Benevolent and Protective Association, told commission members that gamblers’ betting patterns have changed nationwide, so that now only 17 cents out of every dollar bet on racing is placed at the track, making simulcast wagering increasingly important.

The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma suggested that thoroughbreds should receive all of the revenue derived from simulcast thoroughbred races.

However, Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association, said it appears more likely that quarter horse racing is “subsidizing” the thoroughbred industry. The allocation of simulcast revenues has been determined according to the various breeds’ participation at the tracks, and the quarter horses have far more live races at the tracks.

In 2005, the average daily attendance at all racetracks in Oklahoma was 1,265 persons per day when live races were held, said Schauf. However, on non-live racing days, when only simulcast wagering was available, attendance averaged only 268 people, she said. Therefore, it appears the live races attract the crowds – and the revenue.

Schauf countered that the thoroughbreds ought to receive all the simulcast revenues only on days when the thoroughbreds are holding live races at the track.

Commission Chairman Randy Calvert responded to the dispute by forming an ad hoc committee to study the issue. The committee, which will include Calvert and commission members John Smicklas and Mel Bollenbach, will have “broad authority to look at all opportunities to increase revenues and to see how those revenues are distributed,” said Calvert.

Remington Park Concludes Live Meet with Double-Digit Increases
12/9/2006 6:38:59 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 12/1/2006 4:16:15 PM

Remington Park concluded its 68-day live Thoroughbred meet on November 28 with double-digit mutuel handle increases spurred in part by the track's casino, which opened just over a year ago.

The Oklahoma City track reported an all-sources handle of $68,736,967, a 47.5% increase compared to 2005. The average daily mutuel handle of $1,010,838 increased 43.1%.

Total simulcasting export handle was $53,260,506, a 71% increase compared to last year. Remington's on-track live handle increased 17.7% to $5,337,990.

Wagering at the track's Oklahoma off-track betting parlors also increased 17.7% to $822,283.

"We've had a great season," said Scott Wells, Remington's vice president and general manager. "It's been extremely gratifying to see the public's response to the racino concept and to the improved quality of racing we've been able to offer."

The meet also featured a record $12,153,670 in purses. Daily purses averaged a record $178,730, which topped the previous mark of $106,842 set in 1996.

The track ran 625 races that drew an average of 9.6 starters per race, a slight increase over last season's 9.2 average.

"Thanks to our horsemen, we've been able to set a record in terms of field size, which has paid off not only in live on-track handle but also in simulcast export handle," Wells said. "Bettors across the country have recognized the improvement of our racing product in terms of both quality and quantity of horses."

Live racing at Remington drew 324,088 fans, a 209.4% increase over a year ago.

Oklahoma Race Dates for 2007
11/29/2006 6:50:23 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2006 

Will Rogers Downs: February 24 to May 27, 2007 (42 days – Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Racing) – racing Saturday, Sunday and Monday

Blue Ribbon Downs: March 2, 3, 17 and August 3 through December 2, 2007 (70 days – Quarter Horse, Paint, Appaloosa and Thoroughbred Racing) – racing Friday through Monday

Fair Meadows at Tulsa: May 22 and 23 and June 7 through July 28, 2007 (34 days - Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Racing) – racing Thursday through Sunday

Remington Park: March 9 through May 28, 2007 (50 days – Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Racing) – racing Thursday through Sunday and August 2 through December 2, 2007 (69 days – Thoroughbred Racing), racing Thursday through Sunday

Oklahoma's Racing and Breeding Future Taking Shape
11/29/2006 6:49:20 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2006 

With electronic gaming machines operating at Oklahoma racetracks for just over a year now, statewide revenue for Thoroughbred purses and breeder awards in 2006 has more than tripled compared to what was being offered in 2005. Almost 70% of the additional revenue is a result of electronic gaming.

Remington Park in Oklahoma City distributed an average of $200,000 in daily purses during its 68-day Thoroughbred meet in 2006 (August 4 - November 28). The increase of purses at the state’s premier facility attracted an increased number of quality horses, which in turn contributed greatly to a 22% increase in on-track handle, as well as a 70% increase in handle on its live Thoroughbred simulcast signal.

Remington Park plans to construct two new barns prior to the commencement of next year’s 69-day Thoroughbred race meet, as well as continuing to make other backside improvements to better accommodate horsemen who race there.

Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, which is located less than 30 miles northeast of Tulsa, renewed live racing in 2006 after a six year absence. Will Rogers Downs offered a 42-day race meet that ran from mid-February to the end of May. Will Rogers Downs, owned by the Cherokee Nation, presented eight Thoroughbred races a day and offered overnight purses averaging nearly $80,000 a day.

Will Rogers Downs is in the process of replacing the entire racing surface, including the base. Construction on the project was expected to be completed by the first of December. Other improvements are also being made on the backside and grandstand area.

The 2007 race meet at Will Rogers Downs begins on February 24, with a similar purse structure and race format to what was offered in 2006.

Although there are no electronic gaming machines located at Fair Meadows at Tulsa, as that facility is “county owned,” there are 450 electronic gaming machines located at tribal casinos in the Tulsa metropolitan area. By law, these machines contribute 25% of their net drop to a horsemen’s purse account that may be used to supplement purses at any of the state’s four racetracks. In 2006, a portion of that money was used to supplement Thoroughbred purses at Fair Meadows at Tulsa, which averaged over $12,000 per race. The meet was held during June and July, and it offered a total of 32 days of mixed racing (Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas). An average of four Thoroughbred races per day were conducted this year, and plans are to duplicate the same number of races and purse monies for Thoroughbreds in 2007.

Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, which is located about 30 miles west of the Oklahoma-Arkansas border on I-40, has yet to produce the revenue from its gaming and simulcast operations for which horsemen had hoped. Several factors have contributed to this shortfall, but competition from tribal casinos located in this rural sector of the state have obviously taken their toll on the facility’s productivity.

Blue Ribbon Downs is owned by the Choctaw Nation, who also owns the Pocola Casino & OTB less than 30 miles away. In addition to that facility, the Cherokee Nation recently opened a new casino less than five miles from Blue Ribbon Downs. The state’s oldest pari-mutuel racetrack must somehow find a way to overcome these and other challenges if it is to become a viable part of Thoroughbred racing in our state. Horsemen remain hopeful that a resolution can be found to ensure live racing prospers at this historic racetrack.

The racing landscape in the Sooner State has been buoyed by the introduction of electronic gaming machines and, as a result, our industry has witnessed a remarkable turnaround over the past 12 months. How much further the momentum we have gained will carry us is not yet known, but the future for Oklahoma’s racing and breeding industries definitely looks bright.

Remington business boosted by casino
10/26/2006 5:59:11 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 10/25/06

Remington Park opened a casino the final week of November 2005, and since then has recorded significant gains in handle. A high point came Oct. 20, when Remington handled a meet-best $1,783,106 on its Oklahoma Derby card, which included six stakes. The live handle contributed to the highest all-source handle at Remington since 1999.

With handle on incoming simulcasts added to the live take, the total handle Friday night was $1,988,873, the highest total since the $2,270,264 that was handled by Remington from all sources on Oklahoma Derby Day in 1999. Attendance for the races last Friday night, including casino patrons, was 10,891.

Interest in Remington's races during the current Thoroughred meet has not just been on big days. Through last week, the track was averaging $821,782 a day in handle on its live races. Last year, daily handle on the track's live Thoroughbred races averaged $549,701.

The handle increase is boosting purses, as are casino revenues. Since the opening of the casino last November, $13.6 million has been earned for Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse purses, said Scott Wells, vice president and general manager of Remington. The income helped lift Remington's purses from $100,000 a day last year, to $185,000 a day this meet, an average that is expected to grow again for the Thoroughbred meet in 2007.

Remington was granted a 69-date meet for Thoroughbreds next year, and the makeup of the race week will be a little different than the schedule in place at the current meet. Remington now races every Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday. Next year, the track will race Thursday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Wells said.

The other programs will be run at night, as most cards have this year. Remington will run Thoroughbreds from Aug. 2 to Dec. 1, 2007. There will be a Quarter Horse meet from March 9 through June 3.

* Mr. Pursuit, winner of the Oklahoma Derby, could make his next start in the $75,000 Governor's Cup at Remington on Nov. 28, said his trainer, Joe Petalino.

Remington Park: Brother Derek among Oklahoma Derby nominees
10/12/2006 12:13:21 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 10/11/06

Brother Derek is among the 35 horses nominated to the $250,000 Oklahoma Derby, which will be run at Remington Park on Oct. 20.

Nominations closed Tuesday. Others made eligible for the 1 1/8-mile race include Cielo Gold, dead-heat winner of the Grade 2 Indiana Derby, and Sensational Score, winner of the $100,000 Pomona Derby.

The Oklahoma Derby is the richest of six stakes scheduled for the card.

* Trainer Randy Morse has had a strong meet, winning with 26 percent of his starters to rank fifth in the standings at Remington. He can add to his totals on Friday night, when he sends out favorite Monsieur Danseur in the featured ninth race. The first-level allowance, which drew a field of 10, will be run at one mile.

Monsieur Danseur was second to Oklahoma Derby nominee Wolf Trap at this level last out, earning a Beyer Speed Figure of 87. Earlier this year, Monsieur Danseur won an off-the-turf optional claimer over multiple stakes winner Spritely Walker.

* Jockey Cliff Berry won his 1,500th Remington race on Tuesday night aboard Jasmine Jewel. Last month, Berry hit a career milestone of 3,000 wins. He is the leading rider at Remington.

Remington Park: Two staying put for next stakes
9/29/2006 10:14:12 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 9/27/06

Brownie Points and Dontbotherknocking, who both shipped from Remington Park to Louisiana Downs last weekend to win $200,000 stakes on the Super Derby undercard, have returned home and will point for stakes on the Oklahoma Derby undercard Oct. 20.

Brownie Points scored a one-length win in the $200,000 Marie P. DeBartolo Oaks at Louisiana Downs. She scored her fourth stakes win in the race, which was one of her long-time objectives.

"That was one of our goals for the fall," said trainer Donnie Von Hemel.

Von Hemel said another goal is the $100,000 Remington Park Breeders' Cup Oaks, which will be run at a mile on turf here Oct. 20. Brownie Points is a stakes winner over the Remington course and the probable favorite for the race.

Dontbotherknocking is the likely favorite for the $100,000 Remington Green at 1 1/16 miles on turf here Oct. 20. He won the race last year, and earlier this meet won his second straight DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup. That race served as Dontbotherknocking's springboard to the Louisiana Downs Breeders' Cup Handicap, which he won for the second straight year last Saturday. He closed from ninth for a two-length win and earned a Beyer Speed Figure of 94.

"I thought he ran superb," said Bernell Rhone, who trains Dontbotherknocking. "He ran a big race. This horse seems to be getting a little better every time he runs, and as he gets older."

Dontbotherknocking, an 8-year-old gelding by Farma Way, has earned $706,697.

Remington Park: Von Hemel stocked for Classics Day
9/29/2006 10:12:24 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 9/27/06

Von Hemel said he plans to start six horses on the 14th annual Oklahoma Classics Day program Saturday night at Remington. The card will feature seven divisional stakes restricted to eligible Oklahoma-breds, and purses for the races will total a series-best $400,000.

Von Hemel will fire strong shots in the $50,000 Filly and Mare Turf with D Fine Okie, the $50,000 Turf with Notable Okie, and the $50,000 Lassie with Midsummer Magic. He also plans to start leading contenders Marq French and Explosive Okie in the $50,000 Sprint and Oklahoma Wind in the $50,000 Distaff.

The featured race is the $100,000 Classic. Zee Oh Six, trained by Joe Lucas, is seeking a third win in the race, and with a victory would tie Mr. Ross's Classic record.

The Classics stakes will be televised in Oklahoma City and in Tulsa on Cox Communications cable. A live two-hour program will begin at 8 p.m. Central.

Blue Ribbon Downs 2006 Meeting Opened July 29, New GM Named
9/19/2006 7:38:47 PM  -  The Horsmen''s Journal - Fall 2006 

Oklahoma’s first pari-mutuel facility, Sallisaw’s Blue Ribbon Downs, began its 65-day fall meeting on July 29. Racing will continue through November 18.

As in the past, mixed breed racing, including an average of two Thoroughbred races each day, is being offered at Blue Ribbon Downs this year.

Blaine Story was recently named as new general manager at Blue Ribbon Downs, replacing Frank Deal. Story was formerly the assistant general manager in Sallisaw.

Local Reinsman Notches 1,000th Career Win
9/19/2006 7:37:41 PM  -  The Horsmen''s Journal - Fall 2006 

Benny Landeros, one of the most active riders in the Midwest, passed a notable career milestone with his ride in the third race on August 5, 2006 at Remington Park aboard George Kennedy’s Evening Reward, marking career win number 1,000. Actually it was Landeros’s 1,112th tally overall, but that number is reduced to 1,000 when confined to Thoroughbreds - the remainder was achieved aboard Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa runners.

David Andis prepared Evening Reward for Landeros’ milestone win. Not wasting any time in getting started on his second 1,000, Benny won the seventh race on that same card aboard Big B’s Prospect for trainer Ralph Mitchell and owner H & S Farms, LLC.

Fall 2006 Marked a Rebirth of Oklahoma Thoroughbred Racing
9/19/2006 7:36:41 PM  -  The Horsmen''s Journal - Fall 2006 

The 2006 meeting that commenced on August 4 at Remington Park’s Racing-Casino was greeted with anticipation equaled only by the original opening date back on September 1, 1988. Why was this? The passage of SQ 712 in November of 2004 enabled a vastly improved purse structure at Remington Park, resulting in the return to the Sooner State of many owners, trainers and riders who sadly had been forced to ply their trade in other states for the last decade. The 68-day stand at Remington Park runs through November 28.

Returning to defend his leading trainer title is Bret Calhoun, along with many former Remington Park mainstays such as John Locke, Steve Hobby, Kelly Von Hemel and Randy Morse. New to the Oklahoma racing scene are conditioners Bruce Jackson, Tim Padilla, Chris Hartman and Michelle Lovell. Former leading trainer Steve Asmussen has now turned his stable over to his former assistant, Scott Blasi, who makes a return to Remington Park for the first time since the late 1990s.

Riders who also were a part of the jockey colony in the 1990s, such as Casey Lambert, Tim Doocy, Glen Murphy and Perry Compton, have returned to join newcomers Alfredo Juarez, Jr., Helen Vanek, and others. Together, they will be challenging a strong group of jockeys who have consistently competed here such as recent leading riders Cliff Berry and Quincy Hamilton. The rider colony here is deeper in talent than at any time since Remington Park opened.

Owners and breeders alike are enjoying a record daily distribution of purse and breeder funds, nearly double the purse levels seen in 2005. Current purses surpass any of the past years’ levels. The competition will be keen, and the benefits of SQ 712 passage should continue to spill over to the breeding portion of the industry for years to come.

Racing Secretary Fred Hutton reported a record number of requests for stalls this year, with applications for over 3,100 horses having been received. With this type response expected to continue, Remington Park has agreed to construct two additional barns prior to the 2007 Thoroughbred race meet. These barns will add 150 stalls to the current number of stalls available.

Remington Park: Record purses lure new barns and riders
8/3/2006 5:03:49 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 8/2/06

The record purses that Remington Park in Oklahoma City will offer during its Thoroughbred meet, which opens Friday night, have attracted a strong assortment of horses, trainers, and jockeys.

"I would say this is probably the most anticipated meet here maybe since the first meet, but certainly the most anticipated in the last 10 years," said Donnie Von Hemel, the all-time winningest trainer at Remington.

Trainers Steve Hobby, John Locke, and Kelly Von Hemel are back at Remington this meet after lengthy absences. There is also a host of new faces here, including trainers Cody Autrey, Scott Blasi, Chris Hartman, Bruce Jackson, Michelle Lovell, Randy Morse, and Tim Padilla.

They will take on a strong group of locals, including defending training champ Bret Calhoun.

Among riders, Beverly Burress, Perry Compton, Tim Doocy, Alfredo Juarez Jr., and Casey Lambert are new to the colony. The defending riding champ is 10-time title winner Cliff Berry.

Purses have been increased across the board. Fred Hutton, racing secretary at Remington, said maiden special weight races that were worth $14,500 last year are now worth $25,000. Allowances that carried a purse of $21,000 to $22,000 last meet are now worth $33,000 to $38,000. And the purse for a bottom-level $3,500 claimer is now $7,000, up from last year's comparable purse of $3,700.

"The money's real good," said Hartman, who comes here from Lone Star and also races at Sunland Park in New Mexico. "It fits in good with what we're doing. El Paso, Lone Star, and here, they all fit like a glove. It's a good little circle. They all run for basically the same amount of money. You get that same purse structure in three spots, which is pretty good."

"Between Lone Star, Remington, and Hot Springs, that would be a good circuit for us," said trainer Jack Bruner, who is in his second year of being stabled at Remington.

Locke is returning with a stable that includes stakes winners Proven Cure and Oncearoundtwice.

"We've always liked Remington," he said. "We used to run there in the early 90's. It's a nice facility and the town's nice, so we've always liked it there. And then of course now, with their purse structure, it's a good place to be."

Material added to racing surface

Remington added more organic matter to its racing surface during the off-season, said Hutton. The new track superintendent is Bob Beam.

"We've increased the cushion, and obviously the organic material is going to be for the water retention," said Hutton.

In other improvements, Remington has new Amtote wagering terminals in place for this meet, said Wells. And some new barns are also planned.

"We're going to construct two new barns in 2007, [for] approximately 150 new stalls," said Wells.

Track sets up hall of fame

A new display honoring some of the top horses that have raced at Remington during its 17 years of operation has been set up at the track.

"We're adding an area in the racing entrance honoring champions past," said Wells. "For instance, there's a huge case over there on Clever Trevor, and one on Mr Ross and one on Silver Goblin. Owners have been kind enough to lend us artifacts. Later on this season, we're not only going to induct some horses into the hall of fame, but we're going to get fan participation in doing that."

Remington now has two distinct entrances, with the racing entrance on the south end and the casino entrance on the north end.

New drug testing in Oklahoma

There are new drug rules in Oklahoma. The most notable is the "24-hour rule" whereby horses can be treated with therapeutic medications up to 24 hours before post time. In the past, no treatment of horses, with the exception of Lasix and phenylbutazone, was allowed 48 hours before post time.

The new policy is possible because blood serum and urine samples will be used together to give a more accurate read on a horse's system when tested. This enables officials to determine if a prohibited substance or a substance that exceeds new threshold levels was given to a horse less than 24 hours before post.

* Remington will send its signal into some new markets this meet, said Hutton. The track's races will go into Colorado, as well as some locations in Europe, through an agreement between Magna, which owns Remington, and Churchill. Some races will also go to Assiniboia Downs in Winnipeg, Canada.

At a glance: Remington Park
RACING SCHEDULE: 68 dates; Friday night through Nov. 28; racing every Friday, Saturday, Monday, and Tuesday.
POST TIME: 6:30 p.m. Central, except for Labor Day, Sept. 4 and Friday, Nov. 24, when first post is 2:30 p.m. There is a special noon post on Breeders' Cup Day, Nov. 4.
HIGHLIGHTS: $250,000 Oklahoma Derby and five other supporting stakes, Oct. 20; $150,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup, Sept. 4; $400,000 Oklahoma Classics Day program for Oklahoma-breds, Sept. 30; $75,000 Governor's Cup, Nov. 28.
ADMISSIONS: General, free
PARKING: General and valet, free
SIMULCASTING: Daily
LOCATION: At the intersection of Interstates 35 and 44 in Oklahoma City, Okla.
PHONE: (405) 424-1000
INTERNET: www.remingtonpark.com

Remington Park: Casino helps sweeten purse structure
8/3/2006 5:00:13 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 8/2/06

This is the meet they've been waiting for at Remington Park.

With a casino now in full swing, there will be a record purse distribution will during the 68-date season, which opens Friday night. It is a revived Remington, the kind of meet state industry leaders in Oklahoma envisioned when a referendum providing for electronic gaming was passed in 2004.

"We're thrilled to death to be kicking off what we think is going to be a new era for Remington Park and for Oklahoma Thoroughbred racing," said Scott Wells, vice president and general manager of Remington.

The track's casino opened Nov. 21, 2005, and has helped fuel a purse structure of $185,000 a day this meet. Last year, the purse structure was less than $100,000 a day, and in 2004 it was $75,000 a day.

The rejuvenated purses have helped Remington lure a number of stables back to Oklahoma City and draw new faces. Fred Hutton, racing secretary at Remington, said he had requests for more than 3,100 stalls. The backstretch houses 1,200.

"This product's going to be through the roof this year," he said. "I think it's going to be unlike anything that I've seen in the seven years that I've been here."

Entries were fast and furious for the opening card, with 100 horses entered in nine races. The first race is the $50,000 Adena Springs, a five-furlong turf sprint for fillies and mares that drew last-out stakes winner Magic Power and the promising Follow the Lite.

In all, there are 29 stakes at the meet, with combined purses exceeding $2 million, up from $1.2 million last meet. The richest offering is the $250,000 Oklahoma Derby on Oct. 20. Boosted in value from $150,000, the race will be supported by five other stakes. A meet-high $675,000 in purses will be distributed on the Friday night program.

The casino, on the second floor of the grandstand, boasts 650 electronic, bingo-based gaming machines. They play like slots, and through last Thursday they had generated $5.2 million for Thoroughbred purses. The machines share a 76,000 square-foot space with an upscale racebook and buffet that were part of a $35 million improvement project. The casino is unique for its location in the grandstand.

"When racing starts, the curtain opens when the horses come out on the track and then you get the real mixed flavor of casino gaming and live racing happening at the same time. It's just an electric area," said Wells.

Remington Park track report
7/21/2006 3:54:58 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 7/20/06

Add the hot barn of Kelly Von Hemel to the list of trainers coming back to a rejuvenated Remington Park. He was the second-leading trainer at the recent Thoroughbred meet at Prairie Meadows and is bringing a 20-horse stable to Oklahoma City for the meet, which opens Aug. 4.

"We're looking forward to coming down there," he said. "It's been at least seven, eight years."

Von Hemel's stable includes such quality 3-year-olds as Jazzy Okie, a multiple stakes winner; Okie Time, a half-brother to stakes winner That Tat; and Miss Macy Sue, who was second last out in the $100,000 Saylorville at Prairie Meadows.

Remington opened a casino last fall, and it has helped push purses from $100,000 a day to $185,000 a day. Von Hemel said the increase is one reason he is coming back to Remington.

"First of all," he said, "I really liked it down there. I liked the city. I liked the racing surface. I liked the backstretch. I liked Remington Park."

* A new Oklahoma Stallion Stakes program is being launched, with races in the series to be run at Remington in the fall of 2009. At that time, a pair of stakes for 2-year-olds will be contested and each will have an estimated purse of $55,000. There are also races set up for Will Rogers Downs in 2010.

Racino fuels resurgence of Remington Park
7/11/2006 5:22:16 PM  -  Associated Press 

Posted on Sun, Jul. 09, 2006

OKLAHOMA CITY - Once a gleaming jewel of the horse racing industry, Remington Park's fortunes declined so drastically during the early part of this decade that some spoke openly of the possible closure of a track that debuted to much fanfare in 1988.

The year after the track opened, a horse with strong Remington Park connections, Clever Trevor, ran in the Kentucky Derby, and for a few years, the track regularly drew five-figure crowds.

But by 2005, key indicators like purses and attendance had dropped drastically from Remington Park's heyday, the facility had developed infrastructure issues and the track wasn't attracting the quality of horse - either of the thoroughbred or quarter-horse variety - it had during its early years.

But that appears to be changing, thanks to the addition of what in racing parlance is a "racino" - basically, a casino located at the track.

"The future of this place had been uncertain," general manager Scott Wells said, "and nothing is as burdensome as uncertainty. Now the future is bright.

"We are witnessing a revival of horse racing."

When state voters passed State Question 712 - a measure that allowed for electronic gaming at state racetracks - in November 2004, state and track officials rushed to get the racinos up and running. That required not only buying and installing the gambling machines, but also passing the required regulations.

"All of those things that had to come together came together really fast," said Constantin Rieger, the executive director of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, which regulates the state's racing industry. "It came together a lot faster than it has in other states."

The first racino began operating in October at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, and Remington Park's racino opened in November, followed by another at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore in December. State racing officials pinned their hopes on the racinos, hoping to reverse the industry's slow decline in Oklahoma in recent years.

Remington Park's quarter-horse meet, which began March 10 and ran through June 4, was the first extended test of the effect of the new racinos. The numbers indicate that the track passed with flying colors.

In 2005, Remington Park's quarter-horse purses during a 32-day meet totaled about $4 million, a daily average of $127,410. This year, during a 50-day meet, the purses totaled about $8.7 million, a daily average of about $174,000.

Larger purses attracted better horses, more high-profile horsemen and larger crowds.

Jack Brooks - who has won quarter-horse racing's premier event, the All-American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, eight times - finished as the meet's co-leading trainer, along with Eddie Willis from Caney, Okla. Brooks won 28 races during the meet, including his third straight Remington Park Futurity (with First Prize Robin) and the Heritage Place Derby (with PYC Paint Your Wagon).

Attendance for the meet was 270,010, a 340 percent increase over 2005, during which the track drew about 61,000 fans for quarter-horse racing.

On May 6, the track's simulcast of the Kentucky Derby from Churchill Downs in Louisville, Ky., attracted a crowd of 12,943 fans to Remington Park. It was the first time since August 27, 2000, that Remington Park had drawn more than 10,000 fans for an event, and it was the track's highest attendance total since Feb. 4, 1995, when 13,413 fans attended races on the opening weekend of Remington Park's spring thoroughbred meet.

"We use numbers to measure economic factors," Wells said, "but human factors are the biggest ones involved. When people regard your place with a positive attitude, it makes a huge difference."

That attitude spreads to other parts of the state's equine industry, Rieger said.

"Purses grow, better horses come in and people start buying and leasing farms and breeding mares," he said. "It hopefully turns into this snowball effect."

Plus, he said, Blue Ribbon Downs - which long has struggled in its rural setting - now is able to augment its purses, and Will Rogers Downs has reopened after being shuttered for five years.

The racino law "has really charged up racing again. It's given some life to it."

The better news for Remington Park is that the best could be yet to come. Rieger said that the average handle - the amount wagered by bettors - for a thoroughbred meet is usually nine times that of a quarter-horse meet, and Remington Park will begin a 68-day thoroughbred meet on Aug. 4.

Wells said that the track has received about 2,800 applications for its 1,276 stalls for the upcoming thoroughbred meet.

"If things continue as well as they're going, it's not hard to imagine another purse boost next year," Rieger said. "Then you get into the realm of that (track) condition book being in the back pocket of a trainer that normally wouldn't pay attention to Remington. It puts it on the radar screen. Gaming has added that national little bit of prominence to it again."

New Medication Rules Now in Effect
6/1/2006 1:07:10 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2006 

On May 9, Governor Brad Henry signed into law amended medication testing rules that will modernize and better serve the Oklahoma racing industry. The day of trace level detections of therapeutic medications has given way to a more sensible and realistic “24-hour rule” for the use of these important medications. This legislation replaces the outdated “zero tolerance” rule that has existed here since 1988 and is the product of many months of work and research conducted by an Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC)-appointed ad hoc committee.

With these new medication rules now in place, trainers racing in Oklahoma, as well as practicing veterinarians, will be provided a clearer set of guidelines by which to treat our equine athletes. These new rules are much more in pace with the increased sensitivity and sophisticated testing methods being used by various laboratories across the country.

There have only been slight changes to the rules regarding the use of Salix (furosemide) and/or phenylbutazone (bute). One change of note is that horsemen are no longer required to declare the use of “Bute” when entering a horse. Race day testing will still be conducted through post-race urine and post-race serum (blood) samples.

In another change, the costs of all “split” samples to be tested must now be paid in advance by the trainer or his connections, including the payment for shipping charges. In the event a “split” sample does not confirm that a violation has occurred, the OHRC will reimburse the horseman for any costs incurred for testing and shipping of the “split.”

For full details on the medication changes, please consult either the Oklahoma HBPA/TRAO web site at www.okhbpa.com or the OHRC web site at www.ohrc.org.

Oklahoma HBPA Election Results
6/1/2006 1:05:49 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2006 

Following the recent 2006 election process, a Board of Directors and a re-elected president have emerged to lead the Oklahoma HBPA through what promises to be an exciting time for Thoroughbred racing and breeding in Oklahoma. Joe Lucas was re-elected as president and will be assisted by the following Board of Directors for 2006-2008:

Owner Directors: Ron Blalock, Marion Davidson*, L. Keith Farris*, Duane Salisbury, and Steve Schooley.

Trainer Directors: Zach Armstrong, Michael Gass II*, Bob Listen, Joe Offolter, and Donnie K. Von Hemel*.

* Indicates incumbent directors

Oklahoma gets new drug rules
5/11/2006 2:20:21 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 5/11/06

New drug testing rules went into effect in Oklahoma on Tuesday after Gov. Brad Henry signed them into place under emergency status. The most notable is the "24-hour rule" whereby horses can be treated with therapeutic medications up to 24 hours before post time.

In the past, no medicinal treatment of horses, with the exception of Lasix and phenylbutazone, was allowed 48 hours before post time. The new policy is possible because blood serum and urine samples will be used together to give a more accurate read on a horse's system. It enables officials to determine if a prohibited substance, or a substance that exceeds new threshold levels, was given to a horse less than 24 hours before post.

"It allows us to test more accurately," said Constantin Rieger, executive director of the Oklahoma Racing Commission.

Also as part of the new policies, horses can be subject to prerace testing.

Will Rogers Downs Track Report
5/11/2006 1:44:21 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 5/11/06

Trainer Martin Lozano's stable has one of the highest win percentages in this region, so it is no surprise to find him dominating the Will Rogers Downs meet in Claremore, Okla. He has won with 26 of 76 starters, 16 more than the second-leading trainer, Zachary Armstrong.

Lozano has a 28-horse stable at Will Rogers, and he looks to keep his barn's momentum going through the end of the meet, May 28.

"We're going to try to enter in every race we can to finish pretty strong," said Lozano.

Lozano, who has another 24 horses in training at Lone Star Park, has developed a promising 3-year-old filly this meet in Superior Court. She has won 2 of 3 starts at Will Rogers, her latest an optional claiming race over older rivals. Alex Jimenez has ridden Superior Court in each of her local starts. She races for Gary Owens.

Owens also owns Jettin Affirmed, who earlier this meet won a six-furlong allowance in a sharp 1:08.40 for Lozano. Jettin Affirmed is a son of Affirmed and out of Explosive Kate, a five-time stakes winner of $310,402.

Another popular horse for Owens and Lozano is stakes winner The Niner Account, who is on vacation and will return during the Remington Park meet, said Lozano. In his last start, The Niner Account was second to Bang in the $50,000 Budweiser Handicap at Sunland Park on Jan. 28. - Mary Rampellini

Will Rogers Downs track report
4/27/2006 4:09:14 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 4/26/06

George Taylor, a two-time winner of the Oklahoma Classics Day Classic, heads a starter allowance race Friday at Will Rogers Downs. He drew post 9 for the one-mile race, which will go as the eighth on an 11-race card. Nena Matz, who leads all riders at Will Rogers, has the mount on George Taylor.

Matz has won 34 races from 172 starters and her mounts through Tuesday have earned $308,905. Curtis Kimes and Alex Birzer are each tied for second in the standings with 31 wins this meet.

Martin Lozano is dominating the training ranks, with 22 wins from 65 starters and stable earnings of $157,050. The second-leading trainer through Tuesday is Zachary Armstrong, with 10 wins from 28 starters and earnings of $72,570.

Will Rogers will race through May 28.

Tribe wants Will Rogers Down placed in federal trust
4/23/2006 3:40:47 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 4/22/2006 1:34:00 PM

Will Rogers Downs, which is in the midst of its first race meeting since 2001, may end up as a federal trust if the Cherokee Nation has its way.

The tribe on Friday asked that the federal government put the track in trust, which would allow the Claremore, Oklahoma, track off tax rolls, change how the state regulates gaming, and allow more gaming machines at the track.

The track already has 250 electronic machines, but a trust would allow the Cherokees to add 200 more plus blackjack and poker tables.

If approved, the Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry would have to negotiate a compact with the tribe on horse racing.

Cherokee Nation Enterprises, the business arm of the tribe, purchased Will Rogers Downs in March 2004 from Cottonwood Racing, which bought the track out of bankruptcy in 1996.

Will Rogers Downs is currently running a 42-day mixed meet, including races for Thoroughbreds, that opened February 24 and runs through May 18—John D. Ferguson

Casino Official, Oklahoma Tribe Fined $2.5M
3/27/2006 3:03:50 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 3/25/2006 2:38:03 PM Last Updated: 3/25/2006 5:07:36 PM

Federal authorities announced $2.5 million in penalties Friday against an Indian tribe and an official in charge of its casino in Oklahoma for alleged violations of provisions designed to thwart money launderers, terrorist financiers, and other criminals.

The Treasury Department's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network said the fines were assessed against the Tonkawa Tribe of Oklahoma and Edward E. Street, who directed and oversaw the casino's day-to-day operations.

The government said that the tribe and Street agreed to pay the fines. In doing so, they neither admitted nor denied any wrongdoing.

The Financial Crimes Enforcement Network, called FinCen, alleged that the tribe's Tonkawa Bingo and Casino facility violated federal provisions by not developing and implementing a program to combat money laundering, failing to report suspicious financial transactions, not keeping certain financial records, and not properly identifying customers.

The agency also alleged that Street didn't take various steps to comply with federal anti-money laundering provisions.

"This case involved the absence of an adequate anti-money laundering program, the use of fictitious Social Security numbers for customer identification, an unreported deposit of $300,000 in cash from a duffel bag, and other suspicious transactions," said Robert Werner, director of the Financial Crimes Enforcement Network.

The penalties "represent the first enforcement actions against an individual and a tribe for violations under the casino provisions of the Bank Secrecy Act," FinCen said.

FinCen said a $1.5 million fine was assessed against Street and a $1 million penalty was imposed on the tribe.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press.

Purses double at long Remington meet
3/10/2006 3:36:39 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 3/8/06

The 50-date Quarter Horse season at Remington Park opens on Friday night with an infusion of casino cash into purses and the return of the $150,000 Remington Park Invitational Championship.

The longest Quarter Horse season in Remington Park history, surpassing 49 dates in 1989, the meet runs through June 4.

Horsemen will be running at twice the 2005 purses - an estimated $9 million. An infusion of casino funds from 650 video-gaming machines now operating at the track fueled the purse boost.

"It's been a tremendous increase," said racing secretary Fred Hutton. "We're probably looking at $180,000 a day [in purses] from all sources."

The increased purse money helped resurrect the Remington Park Invitational Championship, last run as the Remington Park Championship in 2002. The winner of the 440-yard stakes on June 4 will receive an invitation to the Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 9.

The richest of the 37 stakes are the Grade 1, $750,000 Heritage Place Futurity on June 4 and the Grade 1 $500,000 Remington Park Futurity on April 30.

The Racing Challenge program will offer four stakes races on May 14, led by the Grade 1, $100,000 Oklahoma Challenge for older horses.

Trainers competing for these purses include two-time defending Remington Park training champion Eddie Willis, Jack Brooks, Dwayne Gilbreath, and Heath Taylor, who trains 2005 world champion DM Shicago and millionaire Vals Fortune. These geldings are prospects for the Oklahoma Challenge and the Remington Park Invitational Championship.

G.R. Carter Jr., an eight-time Remington Park riding champion, heads the jockey colony. He is also the defending national champion jockey, an award he has won five times.

First post will be 6:25 p.m. Central except on Kentucky Derby Day (May 6), Preakness Stakes Day (May 20), and Memorial Day (May 29). Those dates will have a 2:30 p.m. first post time.

2006 OHBPA/TRAO Election Cycle
3/7/2006 6:01:20 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

Ballots will be mailed out to current members of the OHBPA (dba Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma) in March to elect a president and board of directors. These seats will be held from 2006 through 2008. Accompanying these ballots will be bio/policy statements of the individuals running for office, as well as their pictures (if the candidates chose to provide them).

Please note that no write-in voting is permitted.

Make sure you return the ballots before the deadline shown, with your signature in the upper left corner of the return envelope, or the ballot will be voided. The ballots will be tabulated and the newly-elected board of directors and president will be seated in April of 2006.

For further information, please call our office at (405) 427-8753, or consult the website at www.okhbpa.com.

Analyzing Gaming Numbers in Oklahoma
3/7/2006 6:00:03 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

Just as the numbers of machines vary from track to track, so has the revenue gained at the various racetracks in Oklahoma. Unfortunately, the initial gaming figures for the first few months at Blue Ribbon Downs (BRD) and Will Rogers Downs (WRD) have been less than were expected.

Requirements for the type of gaming machines racetracks were initially allowed to install may have played a part in why early projections have not been reached. A highly competitive climate for gaming in Oklahoma obviously exists, and the industry leaders who were involved in bringing electronic gaming to the racetracks realized this was the case. Horsemen and racetrack operators asked for the ability to compete fairly with the same type of gaming machines used at tribal casinos and were successful in attaining that right when voters approved the wording contained in SQ 712.

As mentioned above, the Gaming Ad Hoc Committee is currently working to ensure that the permanent gaming rules and regulations will allow that the same type of games that are being played at tribal casinos may also be installed and enjoyed by customers at our “racetrack-owned” casinos.

As has been widely reported, BRD’s racino gaming numbers have fallen considerably short of initial estimates. However, new games are set for delivery to BRD in the near future. Hopefully, these new machines will swing their fortunes closer to the preliminary estimates that were being made.

Live racing returns to BRD, with a five-day meet during the months of March and April, followed by an expanded 65-day meet from July 29 through November 18.

Will Rogers Downs appeared in the simulcast and gaming picture the second week of December. The initial gaming numbers from WRD are not as dismal as those at BRD, but they are still below the initial levels that were projected. However, the public’s attendance at that facility has exceeded projections.

Management there expects the arrival of new gaming machines, along with the start of live racing, will expand the entertainment options and assist WRD in reaching its projected gaming numbers.

An added attraction to WRD is an RV park located on the grounds. This facility is one of the largest in the country and can accommodate over 400 campers and enthusiasts for either gaming activities or the live racing being conducted there.

Remington Park’s casino burst onto the scene in mid-November with resounding success just a week prior to the end of the live Thoroughbred race meet. After seeing a steady spike in business that exceeded expectations during the first few weeks, a more realistic trend closer to initial projections has now emerged. The long-term stability of a larger metropolitan market, in conjunction with the extensive investment made by Magna Entertainment, encourages hope for continued growth and increased revenue at the Oklahoma City facility.

Oklahoma’s fourth racetrack, Fair Meadows, is undergoing major renovations of its barn area and grandstand building this year. The Tulsa facility does not operate electronic gaming machines as it is a publicly-owned entity. Instead, it holds a “recipient gaming license” from the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission. Because of this, Tulsa area tribes are required to pay revenue towards horsemen’s purses and to Fair Meadows based on profits earned from 450 compacted electronic gaming machines operated at various tribal casinos in the area.

The first of these “estimated payments” was made by the Cherokee Nation during ceremonies at its Catoosa Casino in October, but gaming numbers at that facility have failed to produce what was initially estimated by tribal leaders. Horsemen are hopeful that other tribes in the Tulsa area will soon be participating with compacted games and assist horsemen in achieving the gaming revenue levels experts had projected would be attained from the tribal casinos in Tulsa prior to the passage of SQ 712.

In overview, the jury is still out on what effect gaming will have on two of the three racetracks in Oklahoma. The amount of revenue horsemen can expect to receive from the Tulsa area tribal casinos is also uncertain at this time. Based on initial earnings, Remington Park will be able to continue improving its numbers, and that facility should be able to meet or exceed initial projections.

There have been a few bobbles along the way, and the amount of gaming revenue has not been attained as quickly as we had hoped for at some of the locations. But as in any new business venture, there is always a learning process to work through. The merger of the gaming industry with horse racing has been no different.

In addition, the relationships between the horsemen and tribes are only beginning to be established. First and foremost, the introduction of electronic gaming at our racetracks has now begun. We remain optimistic that the long term effect gaming revenue will have on racing and breeding in Oklahoma will deliver as expected.

Thoroughbred Racing and Simulcasting Revenue
3/7/2006 5:58:13 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

Shifts in wagering behavior have obviously altered the dynamics of horse racing over the past few years. Statistics show that over 90% of all pari-mutuel wagers are made on Thoroughbred races worldwide. Today, 85% of the funds bet on North American racing are being wagered at sites other than where the live race is actually being conducted. Because of this, there has been increased scrutiny by the Thoroughbred industry’s national leadership and regulators regarding how Thoroughbred horsemen are actually benefiting from wagers made on Thoroughbred racing – both inside U.S. borders and through overseas wagering locations. Unfortunately, these reports also indicate many recipients of Thoroughbred signals pay no more than a token amount back to our industry, while others are paying nothing at all. These findings have resulted in unprecedented determination on the part of the National HBPA and its member affiliates to join other industry leaders in an effort to establish an independent national office of wagering security.

Several entities operating within this country, as well as those based overseas, acquire simulcast signals on Thoroughbred races. Many of them are operating unregulated, unlicensed, and some even illegally. They are doing so without fear of reprisal from horsemen or prosecution from federal or state agencies. In addition, the “handle” they currently enjoy is diminishing the return of revenue Thoroughbred horsemen should be receiving within their own racing jurisdictions.

The same standards of regulatory compliance and licensing that are so stringent when it comes to racetracks and “their” OTB locations are not being uniformly applied at this time. Compliance requirements are being ignored by many of these foreign entities, as well as several domestic disseminators of Thoroughbred simulcast signals in this country. A national wagering security office would enable regulators and horsemen to band together to identify, sanction, and stop the current abuse of the pari-mutuel wagering system that is taking place.

Thoroughbred horsemen everywhere must receive fair compensation for what our industry generates if we are to remain the driving force behind pari-mutuel wagering. The first step in accomplishing this objective is for horsemen to take a closer look at to whom we are selling our product. This not only refers to the offshore entities who “pirate” our signals; it should include the simulcast disseminators operating inside the U.S. who distribute our signals to OTB locations that are unregulated by federal and state laws or are not recognized by any racing jurisdictions. Thoroughbred horsemen cannot afford to be complacent while others unjustly profit from the popularity of our labors.

Will Rogers Downs Resumes Live Racing
3/7/2006 5:56:48 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

Will Rogers Downs (WRD) is currently offering live racing for the first time since 2001 as its 42-day race meet got underway on February 24.

WRD Racing Secretary Kelly Cathey had a good response from horsemen following word of renovations being made to the tracks surface, barns, and backside facilities. Cathey expected to offer horsemen over 600 stalls by the time the live race meet began.

Unseasonably warm and dry winter months have provided WRD with needed time to install a new battery of walking machines, revamp existing barns, and add new stalls to the receiving barn. A limited number of sleeping quarters for backside personnel were expected to be available before the race meet got underway.

Newly-purchased John Deere tractors, acquired through the NTRA Purchasing plan, have also made their appearance on the track. Together with new water trucks and track maintenance equipment, WRD should be well equipped to keep the new racing surface in top shape throughout the live race meet which ends on May 28.

Thoroughbred purses will average $80,000 per day this year. Interest from horsemen should continue to grow at WRD as we anticipate increased racing opportunities and improved purses to evolve there in years to come.

Changes Anticipated in Gaming, Medication and Racing Rules
3/7/2006 5:55:34 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

Under the leadership of Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) Chairman Randy Calvert, several tasks have been undertaken by industry leaders in Oklahoma. The result of these efforts will hopefully enhance the chances of success for the racing and breeding industries in Oklahoma.

One crucial issue involves the need to refine and clarify the emergency gaming rules and regulations that were outlined last year. An ad hoc committee chaired by Commissioner Calvert has been assigned the responsibility to draft this language. The committee’s goal is to complete this task in a time frame that would allow permanent gaming rules to be adopted and approved during this year’s legislative session. OHRC Executive Director Tino Reiger is a member of this committee, as well as racetrack operators and representatives of various horsemen’s organizations.

In addition, the process to bring Oklahoma’s outdated medication rules into the 21st century has finally begun. Undertaking this assignment is another ad hoc committee, chaired by Commissioner Cassie Barkett. OHRC Executive Director Tino Reiger is included on the medication committee, as are representatives from the Oklahoma HBPA (OHBPA) and Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association (OQHRA). If successful, the new rules would be in place before the end of 2006.

A standardized set of guidelines regarding equipment changes, workout rules, and first-time starter requirements at all Oklahoma racetracks will soon be implemented. This has been achieved through contract negotiations between horsemen and racetracks over the past year. The OHRC also agreed to endorse these uniform requirements. Watch for these revised rules to be published in condition books for the 2006 race meets.

A debt of gratitude is owed to Commission Chairman Calvert and the other members of the OHRC as they work toward completion of many of the projects listed above. The entire horse racing and breeding industries of Oklahoma will soon become the beneficiaries of the insight and long hours these individuals have donated to ensure our future success.

Variety of Issues Facing Oklahoma Horsemen as 2006 Begins
3/7/2006 5:54:18 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2006 

The year 2006 signals a new beginning for the horse racing industry in Oklahoma, not only from the excitement surrounding the upcoming race meets, but with other challenges Thoroughbred leadership in Oklahoma will soon be addressing. Several of the topics are long-standing issues that have recently gained national attention, while others have been brought to the forefront by recent events occurring in Oklahoma.

Will Rogers track report
2/25/2006 6:39:55 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 2/22/06

Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa, Okla., will open for live racing for the first time since 2001 on Friday. The track will conduct a mixed meet for Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses for 42 days, and the season will run through May 28.

There will be eight Thoroughbred races daily, and purses for those races will average about $80,000 a day, according to track officials. In all, daily purses for the meet are budgeted at about $101,000.

Cherokee Nation Enterprises purchased Will Rogers in 2004. About $2 million in improvements have been made to the facility. Late last year, a 250-machine electronic gaming casino opened at Will Rogers.

The track will race on Fridays through Sundays. First post is 12:15 p.m.

Will Rogers has a one-mile oval. The track is located in Claremore, which is about 20 minutes from Tulsa.

Remington racino pases $1-million in funds for education
2/24/2006 1:02:16 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 2/21/2006 7:20:00 AM

Scott Wells, vice president and general manager of Remington Park, presented Oklahoma State Superintendent Sandy Garrett with a commemorative check representing more than $1-million in funds for education generated by the new racino since it opened November 21.

The check for $1,047,584.40 includes approximately $159,000 from November, $440,000 from December, and $448,000 from January.

"These funds are key to the future of our state," Garrett said during a press conference held at the State Department of Education. "Oklahoma has historically had a narrow resource base for education; the addition of gaming and the lottery has diversified those funds. This new revenue will help pay our teachers, and keep our teachers in the state."

Garrett said that racino proceeds for education are deposited into an education fund with the state treasurer.

Well expects the upcoming Thoroughbred season to generate a higher level of education funding compared to the first three months of operation.

"Remington Park is clearly on track to meet expected projections that have been issued by the Department of Finance," Wells said. "In addition to providing a new funding source for Oklahoma's schools, we have also been able to contribute considerable amounts to the state's third largest agricultural industry, the horse industry."

The Thoroughbred live racing season at the Oklahoma City track is scheduled to begin on August 4.

Oklahoma Horseman Walter Merrick Dead
2/17/2006 11:16:38 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 2/16/2006 4:19:44 PM Last Updated: 2/16/2006 6:42:58 PM

Breeder/owner Walter Merrick, who was a prominent figure in Quarter Horse racing, died Feb. 4 at age 94.

A member of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame, Merrick raced nine stakes winners, seven of which were homebreds, including Northern Writer and That's Class. Merrick bred a dozen stakes winners. One of them, Highland Ice, was a stakes winner five consecutive years at Remington Park.

Merrick stood such stallions as Garthorn, Highland Blade, Track Barron, and Vanlandingham, all grade I winners, at his farm near Sayre, Okla. Years earlier, he bred the stallion Three Bars to his Quarter Horse mares at a time when many in the sport were opposed to the introduction of Thoroughbred blood. Among the Quarter Horses bred by Merrick was Easy Jet, who became one of the sport's premier stallions, siring 145 stakes winners.

Merrick's survivors include a son and two daughters.

Copyright © 2006 The Blood-Horse, Inc.

Oklahoma Racino Revenue Projections Cut
1/30/2006 4:17:04 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 1/29/2006 2:32:52 PM Last Updated: 1/29/2006 9:48:27 PM

The state finance director is drastically reducing expectations of making money from Oklahoma's casino industry.

Tribal and racetrack casinos had been projected to produce nearly $53 million dollars this year for education programs. However, state finance director Claudia San Pedro recently lowered that figure to $19.7 million dollars.

Next year's projections are also considerably lower than San Pedro's predecessor, Scott Meacham, had estimated.

Problems arose when the state's three racinos opened later than expected. According to officials, vendors were slow to make the new machines that meet Oklahoma's unique specifications and tribes were slow to install them. And in some cases, customers haven't taken to the machines.

Remington Park General Manager Scott Wells says he expects racino attendance to climb in March after racing begins.

Copyright © 2006 Associated Press.

Casino revenues could double purses at Remington this year
1/30/2006 4:15:53 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 1/28/06

When Remington Park opened in September 1988, the response was a bit overwhelming. General Manager Scott Wells knows that same feeling since the track opened its casino last November.

"We're performing extremely well," Wells said. "You can hardly find a machine to play on Friday and Saturday nights. And, we did very little marketing for our opening."

That success translates to over $600,000 generated for state education from the 650 electronic gaming machines installed on the second floor of the race track. The machines took in an average of $218 during December.

Wells also pointed to the $500,000 in payroll and additional 300 employees handling the new form of gaming in the state.

"We've already generated $1.7-million in additional purses for our Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred meets," Wells added. "We project our Thoroughbred purses will be $200,000 a day. I've already had numerous nationally known trainers trying to get full (40 stalls) reservations. Other trainers will just send strings of horses."

The projected average daily purse figure just about doubles the $100,280 in daily purses the track distributed for the 66-day meet that concluded on November 28, a week after the track opened its casino. The 2005 figure was a 21% increase from purses distributed the previous year.

The advent of electronic machines has pumped not only money into the track, but a positive atmosphere that was associated with the track during the grand opening in 1988.

"The future has never been brighter or this bright in the racing industry in Oklahoma," Wells explained.

The racing casino has been operating for just nine weeks. During week eight, the track registered 1,380 new card holders. Last week, it registered 2,175.

"Any time you see growth like that, it's a sign you are doing something right," Wells said. "That's progress."

Wells added that the track has done little marketing for the casino opening. Targeted promotions in January have already paid dividends in crowds and money wagered.

"Our business plan is to establish long term customers," Wells added. "And, have the loosest slots in the region. You don't do that (grow the business) by gouging your customers."

So far, the public has welcomed Remington Park's casino just as it did when the track opened in 1988.--John D. Ferguson

Remington Park Handle Increases for TB Season
12/28/2005 11:05:54 AM  -  Remington Park  

Posted: 12/3/2005

OKLAHOMA CITY - Remington Park concluded another in a succession of positive racing seasons when the 2005 Thoroughbred Meeting ended Nov. 28. The track, which now features a state of the art casino in addition to horseracing, posted pari-mutuel handle increases and an increase in total attendance for the 66-day season.

The total all-sources handle of $46,610,889 was up 28.4 percent compared to the 2004 Thoroughbred Season.

The Remington Park export handle total was up 73.2 percent with $31,152,557 wagered from sources outside the track’s jurisdiction. A move to a mostly evening racing schedule aided the export business by placing Remington Park into more markets on a consistent basis.

Total attendance for live race dates was 104,751, an increase of 1.4 percent over last year. Attendance rose dramatically on the four race dates conducted after the casino opened on Nov. 21. A total of more than 23,000 experienced Remington Park’s racing-casino entertainment package on those dates.

“We are very pleased with the impressive ending to our season,” said Remington Park General Manager Scott Wells. “The season confronted us with numerous challenges as the construction of the casino coincided with live racing. However, our fans were patient and the meet culminated with a great final week of combined racing and casino entertainment.”

The largest crowd of the season was at Remington Park on Nov. 25, the day after Thanksgiving, when 7,188 attended an afternoon of racing and casino activity.

Once again, Remington Park offered full and competitive racing fields to all horseplayers. The average field size over the season was 9.2 horses per race, placing Remington among the national leaders in that category.

Remington Park horsemen competed for more than $6.6 million in overall purse money during the season.

“We have already experienced improvement in our racing product, ahead of the supplemental revenues that the casino will provide,” Wells said. “We are looking forward to a tremendous 2006 racing year.”

Oklahoma Derby night provided the top pari-mutuel handle date of the season with all-sources wagering over $1.4 million. The derby was contested on a Friday evening for the first time in its 17-year run and won by Military Major, owned by George Steinbrenner’s Kinsman Stable.

The 2005 Thoroughbred Season is the fourth consecutive racing season at Remington Park to achieve statistical increases. The season was conducted with a regular weekly schedule of live racing on Friday, Saturday, Monday and Tuesday.

On-track live wagering totaled $4,533,438 while handle on live racing from Remington Park’s off-track network locations in Oklahoma was $594,296.

Imported simulcast handle at Remington Park was $6,346,133 with the off-track network handle on the imported signals at $4,029,471.

The 2005 season was 66 days in length, one day longer than the Thoroughbred season last year.

Remington Park is open for simulcast racing and casino gaming every day at 10 a.m. Live racing will return when the American Quarter Horse Season begins on March 10, 2006.

Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, Remington Park is in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District. For more information, please call 405-424-1000, 866-456-9880 or visit remingtonpark.com.

Remington Park track report
12/22/2005 4:03:52 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 12/21/2005

The Remington Park Quarter Horse Futurity and Heritage Place Quarter Horse Futurity will each be worth an estimated $750,000 next year. They will be the richest races during a 50-date Quarter Horse meet at Remington Park.

The season will start March 10 and run through June 4. There are 37 stakes scheduled, with their purses totaling about $4 million.

The Remington Park Futurity, upgraded for 2006 from a Grade 2 to a Grade 1, will be run April 30. The Heritage Place is scheduled for June 4.

Purses for the meet are estimated at $140,000 a day, according to Scott Wells, the general manager of Remington. Last year, the daily average was $74,000.

The purse surge is owed in part to the recent installation of electronic gaming machines at Remington.

Will Rogers track report
12/22/2005 4:03:05 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 12/21/2005

There has been a lot of activity lately at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, Okla., which last conducted live racing in 2001. Earlier this month, Will Rogers opened a 250-machine electronic gaming casino, and revenue from it will help fund purses during a 42-date race meet scheduled to open on Feb. 24.

The mixed meet will feature Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horses.

Will Rogers was purchased by the Cherokee Nation in March 2004, and the new owners have put $2 million into the small track, including renovation of its one-mile oval. There are 13 barns at the facility, and an open-air grandstand that seats 2,700.

The casino area also includes a simulcasting parlor, restaurant, dance floor, and stage. The live meet will run through May 28.

Election Slated for Spring 2006
12/15/2005 4:24:51 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2005 

Elections for Oklahoma HBPA Directors and Officers will be held next spring. Nominations were accepted during a general meeting at Remington Park on Saturday, November 26. Ballots should be mailed out in March of 2006.

2006 Racing Dates in Oklahoma
12/15/2005 4:24:08 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2005 

Remington Park (Oklahoma City, OK):

50 days (Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa) March 10 – June 4

68 days (Thoroughbred) August 4 – November 28

Blue Ribbon Downs (Sallisaw, OK):

70 days (Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa) March 3 –

April 22 and July 29 – November 18

Fair Meadows at Tulsa (Tulsa, OK):

39 days (Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa) May 25 – July 29

Will Rogers Downs (Claremore, OK):

42 days (Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa) February 24 – May 28

Will Rogers Downs Announces Personnel Additions in Advance of 2006 Meeting
12/15/2005 4:17:44 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2005 

Kelly Cathey has been hired as the new racing secretary and simulcast coordinator at Will Rogers Downs. Coralee Farley and R. K. Bassett have also been added to the Will Rogers Downs staff for the upcoming 2006 live race meet.

Cathey is a graduate of the University of Arizona’s RCI Stewards School and most recently was assistant racing secretary at Retama Park. He previously worked as a racing official at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

Coralee Farley boasts an extensive background in racing during a career that stretches across the many racetracks at which she has served, including Manor Downs, Eureka, and the Woodlands. Like Cathey, Farley graduated from Steward Accreditation School at the University of Arizona and served as a steward in Kansas.

Bassett is a longtime veteran of racetrack operations. He has worked at Kentucky, Indiana, Louisiana, Arkansas, Texas, and Oklahoma racing facilities in various capacities. R. K. has assisted in the operation of mutuels and simulcast facilities throughout the Southwest and Midwest going back to the 1980s. He was actually a part of the original Will Rogers Downs team back in 1987, when that track had the distinction of hosting Oklahoma’s first $100,000 Thoroughbred stakes event.

Oklahoma horsemen welcome these three individuals into their respective roles at Will Rogers Downs as live racing returns there after a five year hiatus.

Oklahoma Connections Celebrate Breeders' Cup Classic Win with Saint Liam
12/15/2005 4:16:18 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2005 

The winning performance of Saint Liam in the Breeders’ Cup Classic on October 29 will most likely propel him to being crowned 2005’s Horse of the Year. His owners, Suzanne and William Warren, Jr. are residents of Tulsa, Oklahoma.

Saint Liam took the lead at the top of the Belmont Park stretch and held off a determined Flower Alley to prevail in the $4.68-million main event. It was the fourth Grade One victory of 2005 for Saint Liam, following his wins in the Whitney, Steven Foster and Donn Handicaps. He is trained by Richard Dutrow, Jr. who also won the Breeders’ Cup Sprint when Silver Train defeated the previously unbeaten Lost in the Fog.

The Warrens have had many other successful runners over the past two decades who competed in Oklahoma, Arkansas, Louisiana, Kentucky and Texas.

Saint Liam’s Breeders Cup victory is the most recent impact Sooner State connections have had on the national racing scene. Just four years ago, John Oxley, who is also from Tulsa, was the owner of Florida Derby (Gr. I) and Kentucky Derby (Gr. I) winner Monarchos.

The Warrens and Oxleys have obviously established a high bar at which we can aim. The dedication and commitment these Oklahoma citizens have made to Thoroughbred racing has been rewarded by their winning several of the most sought after prizes the racing world has to offer. Their success furthers the point that Oklahoma Thoroughbred owners and breeders compete regularly on racing’s largest stage. If competitive purses and breeders awards can be offered at our state racetracks in the future, it would make it possible for Oklahoma to be a part of a regional circuit on which these types of stables could justify competing.

Milestone Passed - Gaming Debut Takes Place at Oklahoma's First Racetrack
12/15/2005 4:15:06 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2005 

Culminating a lengthy and sometimes tedious process that has inspired hope and excitement, as well as a certain amount of frustration, the long wait for electronic gaming (and the revenue it brings with it) has, at last, become a reality at racetracks in Oklahoma.

First to debut was Blue Ribbon Downs (BRD) in Sallisaw. Despite the lack of any fanfare and opening up at 10:00 a.m. on a Monday, the date of October 17, 2005 will go down in history as the first day electronic gaming was offered to racetrack patrons in Oklahoma. The customers who were waiting for the doors to open that morning were greeted warmly by Blue Ribbon Downs management and casino personnel. Oklahoma HBPA President Joe Lucas and Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) Executive Director Tino Rieger were also on hand to witness this historic event. The gaming activity and traffic throughout the first few weeks of operation continues to be steady.

Will Rogers Downs (WRD), in Claremore, should be the next racetrack to begin gaming operations in late November. That facility, which is owned and operated by Cherokee Nation Enterprises, has been granted permission to start its simulcast and gaming activities prior to the start of their live race meet, scheduled to begin on February 24, 2006.

As is the case with Blue Ribbon Downs, the tribal connection to Will Rogers Downs has a vast amount of experience in the gaming industry and related services through the management of their tribal casinos throughout Oklahoma, the most notable being the Cherokee Casino in Catoosa, which was the site of yet another historic moment for the horse racing industry. It was there that Principal Chief of the Cherokee Nation, Chad Smith, presented the State of Oklahoma, Fair Meadows, and horsemen with checks totaling $2 million on October 12. This “pre-payment” represents the first of many monthly installments to be made by participating tribes in the Tulsa area.

The formula to disperse this money, and future monies, is described in “SQ 712,” but nearly $1.4 million of this initial payment went into horsemen’s purse accounts. It is anticipated the compacted games played at tribal casinos in the Tulsa area will contribute between $8 and $10 million per year toward our purses and breeder awards.

At the time of this writing, the centerpiece of Oklahoma’s racetracks, Magna Entertainment’s Remington Park in Oklahoma City, is nearing the date of its grand opening scheduled for November 21. General Manager Scott Wells, Project Manager Paul Maccuci, and Director of Operations Matt Vance are working long hours during a live race meet to ensure the opening will take place prior to the Thanksgiving holiday weekend. Training is currently underway for many of the new hirees who will be working at the Remington Park Racing Casino.

When completed, the facility and its staff will be able to offer patrons a total entertainment experience. Music, great food, and a variety of entertainment options should make Remington Park the target of a diverse customer base. It will certainly be one of the most striking and appealing locations among Oklahoma’s many entertainment destinations.

Even though more work is yet to be done before our end goal can be realized, Oklahoma horsemen, racetrack operators, and the state’s regulatory authorities can give themselves a well-deserved pat on the back for what has been accomplished here already. Just 11 months after the passage of SQ 712, electronic gaming is now being offered at racetracks in Oklahoma. This is no small feat and is something many other racing jurisdictions would have considered improbable, if not impossible, to accomplish.

Michigan, New York, and our neighboring state of New Mexico each took over two years to have their gaming activities operational. There were 11 other states that legalized casino-style gambling between 1976 and 1995. It took those states an average of 17 months to get gaming operations started after their legislation was passed. Although it may not have appeared so at times, a great deal has been accomplished since the passage of SQ 712. Many individuals and organizations are to be thanked for the long hours they contributed in “fast tracking” the necessary requirements to enable an ailing industry to begin reaping the benefits of a long and challenging campaign. The timeframe in which this portion of a complicated process has been completed was key to the survival and future of horse racing in our state.

The victory in bringing alternative gaming to our racetracks started with the formation and successful management of a coalition between the leadership of the various breeds of horses who race in Oklahoma. These horsemen became partners instead of rivals, colleagues instead of adversaries. That spirit of cooperation helped horsemen and racetracks join forces with tribal leaders and Oklahoma’s education community to pass a measure that few people ever thought would get off the ground.

The persistence, hard work, and patience of this diverse group has borne its fruit with a new source of revenue. It is now up to the horsemen and racetracks to continue working together to finish the job. We must all strive to improve the declining attendance and business trends that have developed here in recent years. With alternative gaming and additional revenue for purses and breeders’ awards soon to be in place, we can hopefully begin turning this tide by offering a higher quality of product for the public to watch and wager.

Keeping pace with the competitive gaming and entertainment business is not easy, but our industry must find a way to do so if we are to capitalize on the opportunity that we have recently been afforded. If we are successful in reaching our goals, the entire state of Oklahoma will benefit from the growth of the horse industry and its proud heritage.

Casino at Will Rogers Downs to open Friday
12/7/2005 11:10:09 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 12/6/2005

The Cherokee Casino at Will Rogers Downs will open at 11 a.m. CST on Friday as the Claremore, Oklahoma, track continues its return from bankruptcy.

Cherokee Nation Enterprises purchased Will Rogers Downs in March 2004 from Cottonwood Racing, which bought the track out of bankruptcy in 1996. Officials said revenue from the casino would allow the track to conduct a race meeting in 2006, which would be the first at the track since 2001.

Revenue from the gaming machines will help fund the 42-day race meeting, which will begin on February 24 and include Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints, and Appaloosas. While most racing days will offer mixed-breed cards, there will be eight days of racing exclusively for Thoroughbreds. A planned December race meeting was canceled, a move approved by the state’s racing commission, with an eye toward starting in March.

The casino, part of a $2-million renovation project at the track, will feature 250 electronic gaming machines.

Will Rogers is the third track in the state to offer electronic gaming. Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and Remington Park in Oklahoma City recently opened casinos.

Remington Park - Calhoun wins trainers title
12/3/2005 9:57:31 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 11/29/2005

Jockey Cliff Berry returned to the top during the Remington Park Thoroughbred meeting, leading the jockey colony with 112 wins from 407 mounts to secure his tenth title at the Oklahoma City oval.

The Jones, Oklahoma, resident was honored with the Pat Steinberg Memorial Trophy in the winner’s circle after clinching the title.

Runner-up Quincy Hamilton, who in 2004 became the first rider to dethrone Berry since Tim Doocy in 1997, amassed 106 wins from 411 starts in the close race.

Berry, Remington Park’s all-time leader in wins with 1,442, also led all riders with $1,128,047 in earnings.

Trainer W. Bret Calhoun from Grand Prairie, Texas, saddled 31 winners from 79 starters to earn his first conditioning title at the track. Donnie Von Hemel, an 11-time leading trainer at Remington, finished second in the standings with 28 winners from 149 starters.

Gary Owens won his third consecutive owners title with 36 trips to the winner’s circle, easily outdistancing his closest rival by 22 victories.

Ok - Casino Opens at Remington Park
11/22/2005 9:27:31 AM  -  Remington Park release 

Posted: 11/22/05

OKLAHOMA CITY - Remington Park open its casino floor just before 1 p.m. (central) today. The new era begins just a year after the passage of State Question 712 by the people of Oklahoma, allowing for electronic gaming at the racetrack.

Joe Lucas, President of The Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma, was the first to play. He inserted $10 into an over-sized 'Big Bertha' machine and made new history at Remington Park.

"I started with $10 and played for a few minutes," Lucas said grinning. "I got up to $41 and cashed out a winner! The money goes to the Oklahoma horseracing industry and to the state's education system so everyone benefits."

The Remington Park Casino floor is the end-result of a $35 million renovation project. The casino offers 650 electronic gaming machines, the beautiful Lookout Race Book, Wild Rush Bar and other amenities like Remi's Buffet restaurant.

Linda Mason of Oklahoma City was one of the first jackpot winners, cashing for $2,250 on a Double Diamond machine in the High Limit room. The retired schoolteacher who worked for 30 years in the Oklahoma City, Okmulgee and Western Heights districts was thrilled.

"I hit that jackpot on my second spin! I'm going to have a great Christmas with this money," Mason said. "I'm happy education is getting some money. They need it and I do too."

The casino opening takes place just before the conclusion of the 2005 Thoroughbred Meeting at Remington Park. Just four dates remain in the season including tonight at 6:30 p.m. The season's final night is on Monday, Nov. 28.

Remington Park is located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District. For more information please call 405-424-1000, 866-456-9880 or visit remingtonpark.com

Remington Park Looks to Racino to Rejuvenate Business
11/15/2005 4:25:32 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 11/15/2005 8:18:43 AM Last Updated: 11/15/2005 8:23:52 AM

A new 650-machine casino will open next week at Remington Park, and owners hope the $35 million renovation project will rescue the 17-year-old racetrack in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma.

Remington Park's opening caused quite a stir in Oklahoma in the late 1980s, but attendance dropped off dramatically in the 1990s and continued to suffer with the rise of Oklahoma's tribal casino industry.

State treasurer Scott Meacham predicts the casino will make $65 million a year.

As mandated by the law that legalized racinos in Oklahoma, the state will receive between 10 and 25% of the cut of the profit. The percentage varies depending on the amount of profit. Roughly 25% more goes to racing purses, breeders and horsemen's organizations. Remington Park expects to clear about 55% before operating expenses and repaying of its renovation debt.

As the track's general manager, Scott Wells' job is to create a symmetry between two distinct gambling crowds -- the horse aficionados who consider racing the world's greatest sport, and those who come for the casino-style gaming action.

Many of the nation's previous racinos have opened with with blackened windows in the casino to prevent distractions, based on expert advice urging that the two gambling venues be kept separate.

The result, Wells said: A loss of ambiance.

At Remington Park, a baker's dozen of 15-foot murals will adorn the casino walls.

Produced by a Las Vegas company, they were intended to represent pastoral scenes of Oklahoma, but Wells wasn't thrilled with the first offerings. So, he plans a contest among Oklahoma artists to replace them.

Live entertainment will take place Thursdays through Sundays on a stage 10 feet above gamblers. An 84-inch video screen at the back of the stage will broadcast sporting events.

A buffet area next to the 76,000-square-foot gaming floor seats 150, and seating for 100 more overlooks the racetrack.

A curtain will remain down at most times, with attention there drawn toward nine flat-screen TVs.

``We'll raise the curtain when we have a race we really want to show,'' Wells said. ``Our goal from the outset has been to make this the most racing-oriented racino in the world.''

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press.

Long meet for Will Rogers
11/3/2005 2:56:52 PM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Posted: 11/1/2005

The 12-date meet that was to open Saturday at Will Rogers Downs near Tulsa has been canceled, and the track instead has been granted a 42-date meet in early 2006 from the Oklahoma Racing Commission. The meet will run from Feb. 24 through May 28.

Will Rogers last had racing in 2001. Cherokee Nation Enterprises purchased the track in 2004 and put $2 million in improvements into the facility. Currently, the barns and racing surface are being renovated.

Will Rogers will also be operating a 250-station electronic gaming casino in the near future, since the commission last month awarded a gaming license to Will Rogers.

* Kelly Cathey has been named the new racing secretary at Will Rogers. He last served as assistant racing secretary and stakes coordinator at Retama Park near San Antonio.

* Jazzy Gold, who picked up the second stakes win of her career in the $40,000 Gaylord for 2-year-old fillies at Remington Park on Oct. 15, is being pointed toward the $40,000 Cimarron at 7 1/2 furlongs on turf, said her trainer, Donnie Von Hemel.

* Blue Ribbon Downs became the first track in Oklahoma to operate gaming machines when it opened its casino Oct. 17.

Record-Setting Performance at Remington
9/29/2005 2:54:24 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 9/28/2005

A new record was established on Tuesday for five furlongs on the turf course at Remington Park for the third time this season on Tuesday when Calling Randy sizzled the distance on the grass in :55.14.

The five-year-old dark bay or brown gelding snapped a seven-race winless stretch with the effort and trimmed nearly a half-second off the previous record of :55.62 set by Orphan Brigade on August 30.

Calling Randy broke sharply and quickly assumed command under jockey Quincy Hamilton. He drew away entering the turn and powered to a 3 1/4-length win in the claiming race for three-year-olds and older.

Frederico Villafranco conditions Calling Randy for owner Gary Owens. The Caller I. D. gelding has won nine of 38 lifetime starts and improved to three wins from seven career starts on turf with Tuesday’s record-setting performance.

Bond Waiver Moves Oklahoma Racino Closer
9/19/2005 4:42:28 PM  -  The Associated Press 

Date Posted: 9/17/2005 2:43:50 PM Last Updated: 9/17/2005 6:30:23 PM

Blue Ribbon Downs moved a step closer to becoming the first horse racing track in Oklahoma to offer casino gambling when a state panel in Oklahoma City eased a bonding requirement Sept. 15.

At the request of Bob Rabon, attorney for the Choctaw Nation, members of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission voted unanimously to drop a requirement that the operator of the so-called racino, Backstretch LLC, carry a $1 million surety bond.

Rabon said the Choctaw Nation, which owns Blue Ribbons Downs, had met 11 of the 12 conditions for a license set down by the commission, including surrendering its sovereign immunity in connection with the operation of the casino at the track in Sallisaw.

Requiring a $1 million surety bond, which would cost $30,000 to $40,000 a year, would be excessive and unnecessary, considering the tribe's heavy investment in Blue Ribbons Downs and its willingness to take other steps to guarantee prize money would be protected, Rabon said.

He said the tribe was in excellent financial condition.

"They have a lot of assets ... and they have no debt," he said.

Rabon also said the bond requirement was not part of state law allowing the gaming.

Instead of requiring a bond, the commission accepted the Choctaws' offer to set up a $100,000 account to handle big prizes.

The commission, meeting at Remington Park, did not go along with Rabon's request that Blue Ribbon be allowed to install certain games without testing for compliance with commission rules. The attorney argued the games met standards set in tribal compacts and should not have to be certified as complying with commission rules.

Frank Deal, general manager of Blue Ribbons, said he hopes to have games up and running by the first week of October. The track has been approved for 250 game machines.

Remington Park, which has been approved for 650 game machines in its first year, is planning to open its casino later in the year.

In other action, the commission voted to grant a gaming operator license to Will Rogers Downs at Claremore, but the action will not become official until members of the commission sign an order at its meeting next month.

Will Rogers Downs also has approval for 250 game machines.

Copyright © 2005 Associated Press.

Board of Directors Election Planned for Spring 2006
8/26/2005 10:41:46 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

The Board of Directors of the Oklahoma HBPA (dba Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma) will be elected next spring for a 2006-2008 term. A nominating meeting of the general membership will take place sometime this fall at Remington Park to nominate the candidates for directors and officers of the organization. The actual election will take place early next year.

Full details on the nomination/general meeting will be made available through mailings, postings and via the Oklahoma HBPA’s official web site at www.okhbpa.com.

Racing Commission Continues to Study Medication Issues
8/26/2005 10:40:51 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

On another note, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) recently offered a continuation of the information-gathering process on medication procedures and testing policies that is currently a “work in progress” by various organizations and governing bodies across the United States. Guest presenter was Dr. Scot Waterman of the Racing Medication and Testing Consortium (RMTC), and the meeting also featured a presentation by Dr. Thomas Tobin from the University of Kentucky.

Dr. Tobin is recognized as an authority on the subject of equine medication and drug testing. He was able to offer sage advice to supplement the information offered to the OHRC by Dr. Waterman. Both men were able to respond to questions posed by commissioners. Dr. Tobin’s appearance was at the invitation of the Oklahoma HBPA, and we wish to extend our sincere thanks to him for making the trip to Oklahoma.

Rieger Hired as Racing Commission Executive Director
8/26/2005 10:39:05 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

Arriving at the helm of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC), after serving as assistant executive director of the Louisiana Racing Commission since 1992, is new OHRC Executive Director Constantin “Tino” Rieger. Outgoing Executive Director Gordon Hare completed a nearly 19-year stint with the OHRC at the end of July and passed the torch to Rieger on August 1.

Additionally, two new Commissioners took their seats on July 1. They are Ms. Cassie Barkett of Tulsa and Mr. Patrick Grimmett of Pauls Valley.

The OHRC’s new Chairperson is Randy Calvert. The new Vice-Chair is Roger Cole, and the new OHRC Secretary is Dr. Gene Bledsoe.

Leadership of our organization looks forward to working with the OHRC board members and with Mr. Rieger in charting a new course for this new and exciting era of horse racing in Oklahoma.

Gaming Laboratories Granted Preliminary License as Testing Lab
8/26/2005 10:38:15 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

There was another matter that needed approval from the OHRC if we were to see electronic gaming activities move forward. Despite the passage of SQ 712 last November and the preliminary licensing of two tracks being granted, there was also the need to designate and license an independent “testing lab” to verify the gaming machines being installed at the racetracks are being built to the required specifications. This need was filled when Gaming Laboratories, Inc. (GLI), was granted a preliminary license by the OHRC.

If all continues as planned, it should not be long before the hard work of many will finally pay off for Oklahoma’s racing and breeding industries. The benefit of allowing gaming at the racetracks in Oklahoma is on the horizon, and it appears the dim light that was once at the end of the tunnel is about to become a bright ray of hope for our industry.

Racing Commission Grants Conditional Gaming & Racing Licenses
8/26/2005 10:37:33 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

On July 21, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC)’s monthly meeting was held, and approval was granted for a conditional license to offer electronic gaming and pari-mutuel racing at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, as well as Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw. In addition, Blue Ribbon Downs, which is owned by the Choctaw Nation, asked for and received permission to install “deactivated machines” as soon as the machines could be delivered to its racetrack. This request was made to facilitate the final construction phases and therefore expedite the grand opening of its casino (once all of the required licensing and machine certifications have actually been issued).

Blue Ribbon Downs may not only have the honor of being the first racetrack in Oklahoma to offer pari-mutuel racing; it appears it will also have the distinction of being the first racetrack in our state to offer electronic gaming to its patrons.

The timing of when electronic gaming will be up and running at Blue Ribbon Downs is of great importance to horsemen there as the second half of its 2005 racing schedule began on August 6. The projected purse levels of approximately $32,000 per day were based on having the electronic gaming revenue contributing to the purse account by the end of August. The meet is scheduled to run through October 30.

Unfortunately, the OHRC took no action for approval of a gaming license or a racing license at Will Rogers Downs in Claremore. Consideration of that application was once again deferred until the OHRC’s August meeting. The Cherokee Nation, which owns Will Rogers Downs, has not been able to satisfactorily complete the licensing applications or documents that have been requested by the OHRC.

Remington Park Fall Thoroughbred Meet
8/26/2005 10:36:43 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

This year, Remington Park’s fall Thoroughbred meet is slated to run from August 5 through November 26 under the guidance of new Thoroughbred Racing Secretary Mike Schamburg. Purses will average approximately $100,000 per day during this time. This figure is an increase of nearly 30% over 2004.

Based on early projections from gaming and pari-mutuel revenue, purse levels could reach $180,000-$200,000 per day during next year’s fall Thoroughbred meet. Ultimately, a $225,000 per day average distribution for Thoroughbred purses at Remington Park is possible in the future.

MEC Lease, Construction Plans for Remington Approved by Zoo Trust
8/26/2005 10:35:57 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2005 

A board meeting of the Oklahoma City Zoological Trust on July 20 was attended by nearly 100 horse owners, trainers, and breeders, as well as Magna Entertainment Corporation (MEC) officials and employees. This meeting was also covered by several members of the state’s television and print media.

A meeting of the trustees for our city’s public zoo does not normally draw this much attention from the local press, nor are these meetings attended by such a large group of horsemen. This sudden show of interest was brought on by the fact the Oklahoma City Zoo Trust is the leaseholder of the property on which Remington Park sits, and its board of directors was scheduled to make decisions on two particular items that would have a direct effect on the future of horse racing in our state.

The first item on the agenda was to decide if a newly structured lease agreement between the Zoo Trust and MEC would be accepted. The second item dealt with construction plans MEC had proposed for renovating Remington Park’s second floor into a modern-day casino. Those who attended this historic meeting were able to witness the unanimous approval of both items.

This favorable vote gave a stamp of approval for MEC to begin the initial stages of a construction project that will take approximately four months to complete (demolition crews began work on the site the following day). According to testimony offered by MEC officials, their goal is to transform Remington Park into a “first class entertainment destination.”

MEC officials also pledged to make several upgrades and renovations to the existing “backside area,” as well as agreeing to build two additional barns once electronic gaming revenue is realized. Magna assured horsemen and Zoo Trust board members these improvements will be completed in a timely manner as they are committed to making Remington Park a “first class” racing facility once again. To ensure these proposed projects become a reality, MEC has committed to invest an estimated $30-$40 million in Oklahoma’s racing future.

Oklahoma approves Remington Park, Blue Ribbon Downs for slots
8/15/2005 12:25:07 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Posted: 8/13/2005 5:55:00 PM ET

The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission on Thursday approved slot machine applications submitted by Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

Tino Rieger, the commission’s executive director, said the Magna Entertainment Corp.’s Remington Park will be allowed 650 slot machines, and may be operational before Thanksgiving. Blue Ribbon Downs, which will have 250 machines, may be up and running well before then. That track is owned by Backstretch LLC, a subsidiary of the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma.

Both racetracks will have to meet several conditions, including licensing of staff members and testing of machines, Rieger said.

Remington Park’s gaming facility is in the early stages of construction, while Blue Ribbon Downs is farther along.

"They (Blue Ribbon Downs) probably are going to be the first ones up and running in the state," Rieger said.

Change in Helm at Remington Park
6/7/2005 9:07:54 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2005 

Industry veteran Scott Wells recently became the new general manager at Oklahoma City’s Remington Park, succeeding R. D. Logan. Logan has accepted the position of executive director of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association (OTA), an organization of which he is a past president.

Wells boasts a lengthy and diverse background in many facets of the horse business, most recently overseeing a revival of Uruguay’s Maronas Racetrack as its director of racing. For the past five years, Wells worked closely with MEC’s Lone Star Park at Grand Prairie and its Latin American business interests. In July of 2001, Lone Star was hired to assist in the reopening and oversight of racing operations for Maronas Racetrack, Uruguay’s national racetrack, which had been closed since 1997. Under Wells’ direction, the historic racetrack reopened in 2003 as South America’s first “racino” and rapidly resumed its place among the region’s most important sporting venues.

Prior to that, Wells served as project manager for Lone Star’s consulting agreements with Hipodromo de las Americas in Mexico City and El Commandante in Puerto Rico. He also served as general manager at Ruidoso Downs (1994-96) and assistant general manager at Hollywood Park (1992-94).

In related matters, Larry Craft has been named Remington Park’s new director of racing, and Mike Shamburg has been named its new Thoroughbred racing secretary. Fred Hutton will remain the track’s Quarter Horse racing secretary and will assume additional executive responsibilities.

Gaming Nears Reality, Last Few Vital Steps Taken
6/7/2005 9:07:02 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2005 

Oklahoma’s horse industry leaders have experienced yet another busy spring at the state capital and at the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) meetings. Because of this, several necessary steps were taken that will put us closer to implementation of electronic gaming at the state’s three racetracks. First of these was the OHRC adopting and approving the required rules and regulations for oversight of the gaming activities at its March 2005 meeting. This measure also included an emergency clause providing for it to become effective upon the signature of Governor Henry, which was accomplished on April 6.

Next was the legislative approval of the supplemental appropriation to the OHRC budget through the end of this fiscal year. This was necessary to fund the additional personnel and extra duties involved in the licensing, oversight, and supervision of electronic gaming at the state’s racetracks. This vital piece of legislation passed the Senate by a vote of 47-0 on April 19. The House also voted overwhelming to support it by a vote of 95-0, and the funding became effective with Governor Henry’s signature on May 10.

Before gaming can be conducted at the racetracks, gaming license applications for each of the state’s tracks must be submitted and approved by the OHRC. The first track to do so was the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority (Fair Meadows at Tulsa), which will not offer electronic gaming itself, but must submit a license application if its is to receive monies from electronic gaming conducted by the Tulsa area tribal casinos.

Upon review, the Tulsa County Public Facilities Authority application was approved during the OHRC’s April meeting. Sometime during May, the other three racetracks should be submitting their own applications to the OHRC for approval. The remaining three applications are much more involved and must include floor plans and security details due to the fact that they will actually be conducting electronic gaming at their facilities.

Upon approval of these applications, the state’s three racetracks should proceed swiftly in getting their respective facilities ready to have electronic gaming installed and offered to the public – assuming the OHRC would be in a position to oversee these operations. For various reasons, the projected starting dates for gaming to begin at the racetracks have changed somewhat from the original dates that were estimated. The following are revised estimated dates for offering electronic gaming at each facility: Remington Park - startup by November, 2005; Blue Ribbon Downs - startup in August, 2005; and Will Rogers Downs - startup in August, 2005.

Of course, should there be delays in the approval of the gaming license applications, or should any other unforeseen circumstances cause impediments that the tracks have not taken into account, these timetables could be shifted further down in the calendar. As Oklahoma horsemen, we certainly hope that is not the case, as the popular belief among many was that following the vote last November on SQ 712, there would be installation and operation of devices at the tracks in the first part of 2005.

In fact, we would have like to have seen completion of the facilities accelerated and the licenses granted to allow for gaming to be implemented even sooner. However, once the process started to unfold, it was obvious that was not a realistic expectation. Hopefully, though, this can all come together in a timeframe not too far from those original target dates. It is difficult to wait for something that holds so much promise for our industry, but we must allow this process to be completed professionally and in a way that is beyond reproach by those who might question its integrity. This progression has been a complicated one, but it is hopefully nearing an end.

The writing and completion of the rules and regulations process itself took much less than a year here in Oklahoma. That portion alone has taken in excess of two years in other jurisdictions where similar legislation was passed. Completion of that part of the puzzle was done so quickly here because of the many hours of work performed by the OHRC and its staff, along with our state officials and the horsemen’s representatives.

The legislative clock has moved slowly from a horseman’s perspective, but the whole landscape from last session to this session has changed dramatically. Party leadership in the House of Representatives has turned over to the Republican Party. The Senate, while still under Democratic control, has seen a leadership change within the current session itself. Complicating these changes was a rift over passage of the state budget. The fortunes of the racing and breeding industries have been but one player in a crowd of interests vying for attention at the state capital.

Needless to say, no cause under consideration is as important to us as are the measures that directly affect our future, and constant communication, dialogue and exchange have been the rule throughout the session, going back to January. Fortunately, our elected officials joined together to pass the necessary legislative measures that will allow the horse industry of Oklahoma to move forward. This was no small task, and we thank them one and all for their collective assistance.

The long battle is nearing its end, but it seems like the last few hundred yards are the toughest to navigate. Certainly the end result is going to be worth the wait, and that time is getting near. Submission of the applications for 2006 licenses by the state’s four racetracks will be made to the OHRC by June 1.

2005 Race Dates in Oklahoma
3/12/2005 5:47:32 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2005 

Blue Ribbon Downs: February 19 – May 7 (27 days, mixed meeting), August 6 – October 30 (33 days, mixed meeting)
Remington Park: March 19, April 1 – June 5 (32 days, mixed meeting), August 5 – November 27 (66 days, Thoroughbred meeting)
Fair Meadows at Tulsa: May 26 – June 19 (10 days, mixed meeting), June 23 - July 30 (22 days, mixed meeting)
Will Rogers Downs*: November 3 – December 11 (20 days, mixed meeting)
*Subject to OHRC approval

Following a Milestone Year in 2004, Oklahoma Racing Set to Turn the Corner in 2005
3/12/2005 5:45:54 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2005 

Thoroughbred racing and breeding in the Sooner State have undergone quite a roller-coaster ride in the last decade. The DeBartolo family’s construction of one of the last large modern racetracks built in North America (Remington Park in 1988) was followed by turbulent business fortunes for that track and for all of those involved in Oklahoma racing. The 1990s ended with the Native American facilities in Oklahoma furnishing unprecedented competition for patrons and for their business.

As the new millennium dawned, operating a racetrack in Oklahoma was akin to “living on the edge” economically. Rumors of insolvency or of a track ceasing operations are not attractive thoughts to horsemen looking to compete with their horses.

In fact, Remington Park did begin 2000 under new ownership, and Blue Ribbon Downs emerged from bankruptcy to continue running, and subsequently was also sold. Will Rogers Downs operated sporadically, and Fair Meadows at Tulsa experienced downturns in its business. States around Oklahoma were enjoying a mini-boom in their racing because horses and horsemen were leaving Oklahoma, driven simply by the economics they were facing.

What took place and culminated in 2004 has all Oklahoma horsemen looking ahead to a much-improved 2005. The new laws will hopefully lead our industry to a starkly different 2006 and beyond, where it is perceived that both purse levels and breeders’ awards will again be on the upswing in Oklahoma. The vast number of horsemen and owners that have been forced by economic factors to curtail racing activities will be able to once again make Oklahoma their center of operations.

This restoration of hope is due primarily to the passage of SQ 712 (a bill that will allow electronic gaming at the state’s racetracks). Ironically, breeds that are usually at odds with one another united in a cooperative effort with the state’s tracks and Native American leadership. These industries were also joined by the educational community from across Oklahoma to make it all possible.

The passage of rules and regulations for the monitoring and supervision of gaming activity to be conducted at our three racetracks is expected to be approved by the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) in February and, of course, legislative approval of the funding will be needed. It is hoped that by late spring of 2005, gaming can be a reality at our state’s three racetracks, fulfilling some of the promise of a long campaign that began in 2002.

Certainly the passage of SQ 712 was the major story in Oklahoma in 2004, but it also marked a year of loss to Oklahoma’s breeding industry. First, Here We Come, a perennially leading sire in Oklahoma who stood at B/T Ranch in Collinsville, died unexpectedly. This was followed by untimely loss of the 2001 and 2002 leading sire in Oklahoma, Prospector’s Music, who stood at Oklahoma Equine Lameness Center in Goldsby. This left a pair of voids at the top of our state’s Thoroughbred breeding industry. It is hoped that in the near future, stallions of their stature or even greater will again be attracted to Oklahoma and will continue with their own similar success.

A rider respected for his prowess not just in Oklahoma, but in several other states over the last 15 years, Wendell Hilburn, passed away in late October. His lasting ties to hundreds of those whose lives he touched and his love of his involvement in racing will be long remembered. Wendell was a popular member of the racing community and will certainly be missed.

A tragic spill on December 3 at Remington Park, on the track’s closing weekend of action, seriously injured rider Myra Truitt. She recovers from her injuries with her family in California. In the meantime, a trust account has been set up to assist Myra with her care expenses at the First Capital Bank, 224 N. Oklahoma Avenue, Guthrie, OK 73044. The bank’s telephone number is (405) 282-0470.

Finally, in late December, longtime assistant trainer Hildardo Herrera-Perez suffered spinal cord damage as a result of a training hours spill at Sam Houston Race Park. There has also been a trust fund established to help him and his family at the Republic Bank, P. O. Box 5369, Norman, OK 73070. The bank’s telephone number is (405) 366-2730.

The losses, human and equine, as well as tragic events like those that befell Hild and Myra, temper the sense of excitement and anticipation that 2005 would normally bring with it. Horsemen, tribes and educators all worked hard and worked cooperatively for their mutual benefit, and ultimately for the principal beneficiary - the State of Oklahoma.

Other changes must also be made in how Oklahoma’s racing industry operates if we are to take advantage of the opportunity the public gave us with their vote. This is the responsibility of the industry itself. It will be up to the same individuals who pushed for the passage of SQ 712 to continue their cooperation if all of Oklahoma’s racing industry is expected to grow.

It seems 2005 will be the year that will bridge the old to the new. The eagerness with which it is viewed has been unprecedented, and one cannot help but feel that the fortunes in Oklahoma’s entire equine industry have taken a turn for the better. How much better? Only time will tell.

Tentative 2005 Race Dates for Oklahoma
12/14/2004 9:01:36 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2004 

Below are the tentative race dates for Oklahoma for 2005 pending approval by the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) at its meeting on November 18, 2004. It is notable that at the time this was written, the dates at Will Rogers Downs had not even been conditionally awarded.

Blue Ribbon Downs: February 19 – May 7 (27 days; Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint, & Appaloosa), August 6 – October 31 (33 days; Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint & Appaloosa)

Fair Meadows at Tulsa: May 26 – June 16 (Tulsa County Fair, 6 days; Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint & Appaloosa), June 17 – July 23 (Tulsa State Fair, 22 days; Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint & Appaloosa)

Remington Park: March 19 – June 5 (32 days; Quarter Horse, Paint & Appaloosa), August 5 – November 27 (66 days; Thoroughbred)

Will Rogers Downs: November 5 – December 11 (12 days; Thoroughbred, Quarter Horse, Paint & Appaloosa)

A November to Remember
12/14/2004 9:00:34 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2004 

November 2, 2004 is a date all horsemen in Oklahoma should remember. Our nation had the responsibility of deciding who would lead our country through the difficult times with which we are being faced. As in many states, we were also being presented with a record of nine state questions to resolve.

One of them was SQ 712. It let the citizens of Oklahoma decide if our state’s racing industry would be allowed to benefit from an industry that is so prominent here. This was a “common sense” issue. Electronic gaming was already being conducted all over Oklahoma, and the racing industry here had suffered because of its inability to compete with the increasing number of tribal casinos that offered simulcast wagering, as well as electronic gaming. Oklahoma voters showed their ability to see the benefits of this proposal and approved it by a convincing 60% margin.

Obviously, it will take time to construct the facilities at the racetracks before they are ready to begin offering electronic gaming to patrons. However, by the end of spring, the racetracks should be in a position to begin generating income from this newfound revenue stream.

Currently, horsemen in Oklahoma compete for just over $10 million annually. It is estimated that now an additional $30 million per year will be added to our current purses and breeder awards (once a full year of revenue has been contributed from electronic gaming). It also provides for over 1,000 additional racing opportunities for horses to compete in each year. This 300% increase in revenue and the additional race days mean a rising number of horses and horsemen will be returning to compete here once again. This also means we should begin seeing the natural evolution of producing a higher quality of Thoroughbred runners in Oklahoma.

Remington Park will once again become a major factor in Thoroughbred racing in this region and can boast of offering the best Quarter Horse racing in the world. Fair Meadows in Tulsa has been given the opportunity to conduct one of the top “fair meets” in the nation, while Blue Ribbon Downs and Will Rogers Downs will be in a position to offer greatly improved purse structures. This will provide a racing circuit for those horsemen who choose to compete in Oklahoma year-round.

The future of racing here looks bright, but we must not forget what brought us to this point. It is because of the countless hours of hard work and sacrifices made by many individuals. It is the product of what can be accomplished when the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse industries, along with the track management, all work together. Yes, there are other issues that still need to be resolved between horsemen’s organizations and tribes, but we have proven we can work collectively when put to the test. The future will tell if these newly forged relationships will last, but it should not be forgotten what we have all accomplished here together.

Oklahomans Approve Racetrack Slots Initiative; Florida Outcome Still Undecided
11/4/2004 1:29:55 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Oklahomans Approve Racetrack Slots Initiative; Florida Outcome Still Undecided Date Posted: 11/3/2004 11:17:09 AM Last Updated: 11/3/2004 11:17:09 AM

Approximately 59% of voters in Oklahoma cast ballots Tuesday in favor of the "State-Tribal Gaming Act" that authorizes electronic gaming operations at the three privately-owned Oklahoma racetracks and directs a share of gaming revenues from Tulsa area tribes to the publicly-owned fourth track. According to Magna Entertainment, which operates Remington Park, the act provides for a "model" tribal-state gaming compact for the conduct of specified types of gaming and must be ratified by at least four Oklahoma Indian tribes. The types of electronic gaming devices the private racetracks are authorized to conduct include Electronic Bonanza-style Bingo, Electronic Instant Bingo, Electronic Amusement Games, and any other Class II electronic game operated by an Oklahoma Indian tribe, all as specifically authorized by the state, according to Magna, which would be permitted to operate up to 750 gaming machines at Remington.

Two other private racetracks -- Will Rogers Downs and Blue Ribbon Downs, would be allowed to operate a maximum of 250 machines. Gaming operations at the racetracks are permitted for up to 18 hours per day, not to exceed 106 hours per week. The distribution of revenues from the racetracks' electronic gaming operations will vary based on the annual gross revenues of the racetrack from gaming less all monetary payouts, with between 10% and 30% of the adjusted gross revenues from gaming at each racetrack to the State (primarily for the funding of education), between 20% and 30% for the benefit of horsemen and the remaining 50% to 60% to the racetrack, out of which the racetrack operator will pay its capital and operating costs.

Meanwhile, the fate of slot machine gambling in South Florida was too close to call late Tuesday, according to the Palm Beach Post.

The newspaper reported that with most of the state's precincts counted, there was less than half a percent difference between those supporting and opposing an amendment that would allow slot machines at dog and horse tracks and jai-alai frontons in Broward and Miami-Dade counties.

Similar measures have lost three times within the past 26 years, and Fair Share, a political action committee supporting the initiative, reportedly spent more than $15 million to get the issue on the ballot.

Supporters of slots at South Florida tracks said the initiative would raise funds for education, estimating the state's schools would receive a $438 million from the taxes on the new machines. Gov. Jeb Bush opposed the initiative.

Copyright © 2004 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

General Election to Determine Fate of Horse Racing in Oklahoma
9/11/2004 10:42:05 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2004 

In addition to deciding the occupancy of the White House for the next four years, the general election on November 2 may decide the future of horse racing in our state. Simply put, it is the most significant issue to impact Oklahoma’s horse industry since the passage of pari-mutuel wagering in 1982. SQ 712 will offer voters the opportunity to approve a “state tribal gaming compact” that also allows electronic gaming to bolster the ailing horse industry in Oklahoma.

This measure offers several benefits to Oklahoma:

• Enables an estimated $70 million to be directed from tribal casino and racetrack profits to the State’s budget.

• Defines the gaming activity that may be conducted at Native American casinos.
• Allows the state’s education system to receive an estimated $50 million annually from the described tribal gaming compact (the compacts currently in force do not permit tribes to contribute directly to the state’s revenue stream).
• Finally, it permits three of the four racetracks in Oklahoma to conduct electronic gaming at their facilities (the fourth track’s purses will also be supplemented from the profits of local tribal gaming facilities).

All told, this measure would add an estimated $30 million of additional revenue to enhance our existing purses and breeder awards each year. It also would enable the horse industry to contribute $20 million annually towards education.

The road that Oklahoma horsemen have traveled in reaching this point has been a long one. During the 2004 legislative session, we were able to pass SB 553 in both legislative bodies. However, the tactics our opponents chose to use undermined the chances of enactment of this measure. They misleadingly cited a number of supposed “community problems” and “economic ills” that they insisted would accompany “this expansion of gambling.” The weapon of choice the “anti forces” used to oppose the enactment of SB 553 was to submit a referendum petition to challenge it.

In reality, their goal was only to stall their very own petition with an endless series of bogus legal challenges (thereby delaying enactment of our bill for two years or more). For that reason, horsemen decided to introduce a second measure, SB 1252. It would repeal our original bill but at the same time mandate a public vote in November. Once again, we were successful in our legislative efforts.

The same “anti forces” that supposedly wanted all Oklahomans to be given a chance to overturn the legislative approval of SB 553 with a referendum petition, now challenged this new measure that asked for a vote of the people - as did their petition. This time, they cited “unconstitutional procedure,” but their tactics failed to garner the needed judicial support.

Our opponents conveniently overlook the tribal casinos where gaming is already thriving in nearly 90 locations. They seem to worry more about what possible “moral disasters” might occur because of three non-tribal facilities. Adding to their laughable warnings is their willingness to forego tens of millions of dollars in revenue that either one of these bills could generate for our state’s education system.

The “anti forces” are a formidable network of activists and extremists who were successful in keeping Oklahoma a “dry” state for decades. They have now shifted their apparatus to the opposition of laws that could enrich Oklahoma’s education system and save approximately 50,000 jobs dependent on the horse industry. This narrow-minded group has placed Oklahoma’s racing industry in its crosshairs. Their end goal is to eliminate the horse racing industry in Oklahoma. They obviously have no consideration for our state’s horsemen that have already been forced to leave home for increased purses enriched by alternative forms of gaming in other states such as Arkansas, Louisiana, Iowa, and New Mexico.

Fortunately, an unprecedented coalition comprised of horsemen, educators, racetrack operators, and tribal leaders have worked closely for the past two years to combat these naysayers.

Since adjournment of the legislative session in May, they have rallied their considerable manpower and resources in an effort to defeat the opposition and ensure victory on the November ballot.

The Oklahoma HBPA, in particular, has hosted rallies at the State Capitol and is currently assisting in voter registration drives and coalition sign-up efforts. We have established a Thoroughbred Political Action Committee (T.P.A.C.), as well as trying to keep our membership informed of new developments. Horsemen worthy of notice include Oklahoma HBPA President Joe Lucas and prominent breeder/owner John Smicklas of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association. Of course, none of these efforts could have made it this far without the help and leadership of Governor Brad Henry, Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson, and House Speaker Larry Adair.

An important rally for support of a “YES for SQ 712” vote by all Oklahomans will be held on Saturday, September 4 at 4:00 p.m. on the grandstand level at Remington Park. All those involved in or affected by the racing and breeding industries in Oklahoma are urged to attend this event. First post time on that day is scheduled for 6:25 p.m. There will be a general meeting of the Oklahoma HBPA at this rally also. Horsemen, mark your calendars.

Passage, Signing of SB 553
6/4/2004 3:58:59 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2004 

The past few months have been eventful ones. Chief among events in Oklahoma was the passage and signing into law of SB 553, the landmark measure that will provide for government oversight of tribal casinos and their games, substantial support for the education system in Oklahoma and, most importantly to horsemen, the opportunity for alternative gaming to be offered at three of the state’s four racetracks to help support purses.

Not unexpectedly, a petition drive funded and directed by forces opposed to the bill are circulating and gathering signatures in an effort to place the issue on the ballot as a state question on November 2. The coalition of horsemen’s groups, racetrack operators and tribal representatives knew that this approach would probably be used and is devising its own strategy to deal with the opposition.

It is the feeling of the coalition that should Oklahomans be offered the opportunity to vote on SB 553 and the many benefits that come with it, they will offer their resounding support and defeat the petition. Ultimately, forces pushing the petition are calling the issue a “moral question for their churches” and ignore the existence of 82 casinos in Oklahoma currently operated by tribal entities. It is this “head in the sand” approach that has become so frustrating and so costly for horsemen attempting to keep farms, homes, and racing operations together in Oklahoma for the last decade in the face of so much unrestrained competition.

The coming months will tell the tale on racing’s future in the Sooner State.

Political Action Committee Formed
6/4/2004 3:58:09 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2004 

The leadership of the Oklahoma HBPA has successfully set up a political action committee (PAC) to further assist horsemen and their interests at the legislative level. Those wishing to make contributions to the Thoroughbred P.A.C. may contact the Oklahoma HBPA office for details or send support directly to: T.P.A.C., P. O. Box 57656, Oklahoma City, OK 73157-7656.

Horsemen and members are urged to become a part of the political process in supporting this organization that will function solely to safeguard interests of Oklahoma’s Thoroughbred horsemen and the Thoroughbred industry.

Will Rogers Downs Finds New Ownership
6/4/2004 3:57:18 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2004 

The Cherokee Nation followed Backstretch, LLC (a wholly owned subsidiary of the Choctaw Nation) into the racetrack business in late March with its purchase of Will Rogers Downs near Claremore. Cherokee Nation Enterprises announced the sale and with it, its intention to immediately renovate the track, which has not hosted a live race meet since 2001.

Choctaw Chief Greg Pyle estimated at the time that his tribe had already spent several hundred thousand dollars on needed improvements at Blue Ribbon Downs, and Will Rogers Downs is facing many of the same needs. Cherokee officials estimated the improvements required at Will Rogers Downs are in the neighborhood of $2 million.

It is the hope that with the advent of gaming at Oklahoma’s tracks, a profitable circuit of year-round competition can be structured and sustained for those local horsemen wishing to stay and compete close to home. Submission of applications for 2005 racing licenses is to be made by tracks to the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission by June 1, 2004.

Oklahoma Slots Issue Headed For Statewide Vote
5/21/2004 11:20:45 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Date Posted: 5/20/2004 2:19:13 PM Last Updated: 5/20/2004 2:35:27 PM

Gov. Brad Henry signed a bill Wednesday to authorize a statewide vote Nov. 2 on whether to allow pari-mutuel horse racing tracks to operate electronic gambling machines now played only at Indian casinos. Senate Bill 1252 also repeals an earlier gaming bill that had been the target of a referendum petition drive by anti-gambling activists.

The measure also sets up a model gaming compact with Indian tribes and allows the state to regulate and share in the profit from tribal casinos. New language was added to the bill that would appropriate $250,000 annually for the treatment of gambling addiction and increase by 100 the number of machines that could be installed at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

If approved by the voters, the law is expected to generate $71 million annually, most of which would fund public schools and college scholarships.

The proposal, which was a key part of Henry's platform this year, has been touted as critical to saving the state's horse industry.

"I'm glad that the bill passed and Governor Henry signed it. I'm ready to go forward into the next part of this endeavor, which is getting it into law on Nov. 2," said Joe Lucas, president of the Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma.

"The quicker this gets on the ballot, the sooner the state of Oklahoma's education and our horsemen start benefiting from the money that can be derived from it."

Opponents of the bill say they will continue to gather signatures in an effort to overturn Senate Bill 553, the original gaming bill.

Ray Sanders, a spokesman for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma, said an attorney general's opinion has been requested on the legality of including a referendum and a repealer in the same bill.

"This is an unprecedented approach, and until we hear from the attorney general, we will continue to circulate the petitions," Sanders said.

Sanders said churches around the state are planning a "petition-signing Sunday" on June 27 to get their members to express their opposition to the expansion of gambling in Oklahoma.

"We think gambling violates numerous biblical principles," Sanders said. "We know of no financial planner who would recommend anyone invest a dollar in the lottery or a quarter on a slot machine. It's just not wise.

"We've used the analogy of a mousetrap to explain gambling. One or two might get the cheese, but the rest are going to end up with broken necks."

Copyright © 2004 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

New President, Board Complete Eventful First Year in Oklahoma
3/13/2004 12:30:53 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2004 

Faced with daunting tasks, new president Joe Lucas completes his first full year in office, along with the new Board of Directors, in the next couple of months. Had he known the full extent to which his energies and resources would be taxed, Lucas well might have had second thoughts prior to running for president in Oklahoma. He has undertaken the most urgent projects as not just goals but as personal causes, chief among them the passing of legislation to permit alternative gaming at the racetracks in Oklahoma, to better the tracks’ chances of survival in the midst of stiffening tribal casino competition.

Lucas’ direct involvement has elevated the legislative measure to unprecedented heights of support, even incorporating a state-tribal compact aimed at achieving Native American support of the “gaming bill” rather than its opposition. This has been made possible through forming alliances with other breeds racing in Oklahoma, and utilizing the very valuable assistance of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association.

Awareness has been heightened to the plight of the horse racing industry among tribal representatives, legislative leaders and other decision makers. What once was an industry “taken for granted” in Oklahoma is again being listened to and given serious consideration.

The bill under review in the legislature not only will help a struggling racing industry in Oklahoma, but will make tribal casinos part of the revenue stream in a state facing a mammoth shortfall in its budget, generating $70-million from tribal operations according to estimates.

Lucas has juggled dozens of legislative meetings with training a stable split between four states and, at the same time, maintained and operated a full-time training center in south central Oklahoma. How he is able to accomplish all this might have made Houdini proud, but he has not missed a beat and, in fact, has notched a pair of impressive stakes wins with the John Smicklas-owned Zee Oh Six in the Autumn Classic at Remington Park and in the Sam Houston Sprint Handicap at Sam Houston Race Park. Under Joe’s tutelage, the versatile runner has found a rebirth as a top sprinter and has now earned $161,925 at the time of this printing. Smicklas, incidentally already had a memorable 2003 as a mare he bred, Belle’s Good Cide, was the dam of Eclipse Award champion and dual classic winner Funny Cide.

Ahead are additional efforts to gain passage of the bill, as well as forging agreements with more of the tribes whose casinos wager on simulcasted Thoroughbred races into their Oklahoma outlets. Oklahoma horsemen are seeking a fair and equitable share of that handle for local horsemen, who have been plagued by the competition during the last several years and have seen attendance, purse levels, and racing days decline steadily.

With that decline, the overall health of the Oklahoma breeding and sales business has suffered as horsemen who used to invest, build and race in the Sooner State have sought greener pastures in Louisiana, Iowa and New Mexico – where racetracks are buoyed by gaming revenue and have sustained not just survival, but growth – at the economic expense of non-gaming states like Oklahoma.

Having established Red Earth Training Center and realizing a significant investment in the horse racing business, Joe is moving heaven and earth to see to it that Oklahoma racing can continue into the future. He knows, as many have realized, that the changing landscape racing faces is one it must adapt to quickly or face bleak prospects of survival. Lucas is not ready to give up, and he inspires confidence in those working alongside him in his efforts.

Lucas’ leadership during his first year has been nothing if not amazing. Working cooperatively with other horsemen’s groups, he has taken the organization out of the realm of the unrecognized and even has established a trade name of “Thoroughbred Racing Association of Oklahoma” for the corporation. He has seen to it that who and what we represent as the Oklahoma HBPA is made clearer and more fully evident to those whose support is vital to our continued existence.

Leading by example is a worn out adage, but the dedication and fervor that President Lucas has brought to the first year of his term have been remarkable. The times and the circumstances no doubt have to some degree dictated the frenetic pace at which Joe has been working, but his perseverance and willingness to go the extra mile for Oklahoma’s Thoroughbred industry is a model for leadership. We can all be extremely proud of the job he has turned in during a very full first year as president, and we look forward to bigger and better things ahead for all horsemen in Oklahoma.

2004 Racing Calendar Finalized by OHRC
3/13/2004 12:29:15 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2004 

The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) completed conditional approval of the final applicant for a racing license in Oklahoma for 2004 when it granted a total of 61 days in segmented mixed meetings to Backstretch, LLC. to operate Choctaw Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw. The full complement of race days for the state’s three tracks is listed below:

Choctaw Blue Ribbon Downs (Mixed breed):
February 21 – May 1 (30 days)
August 6 – October 30 (31 days)

Fair Meadows at Tulsa (Mixed breed):
County Fair - May 27, June 10-19 (8 days)
State Fair - June 20 – July 24 (22 days)

Remington Park:
Mixed Meeting - March 20, April 2 – May 31 (28 days)
Thoroughbred - July 30 – November 30 (65 days)

Oklahoma governor signs expanded gaming bill
3/9/2004 11:36:51 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Oklahoma Governor Brad Henry on Monday signed into law legislation that authorizes expanded gaming at Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Remington Park in Oklahoma City, and Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.

The bill also regulates the American Indian casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino industry within the state. Overall, the new law could raise $71-million per month for Oklahoma education as well as revitalize the state’s struggling racing industry.

Tracks could begin operating casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino-style gaming machines as early as September 1. Corey Johnsen, president of Magna Entertainment Corp.’s Oklahoma and Texas operations, which include Remington, has said the opening might realistically be sometime in the fall.


Oklahoma House Narrowly OKs Gaming Bill
2/27/2004 7:03:22 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

The Oklahoma House narrowly approved a measure Feb. 26 that gives racetracks such as Remington Park the right to operate the same type of electronic games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games that Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos do, and sent the bill to Gov. Brad Henry for his signature.

Henry lobbied in support of the measure, Senate Bill 553. A portion of the projected $71 million it is expected to raise for the state in the first year goes to education.

According to The Oklahoman, hundreds of people packed inside the House gallery cheered as lawmakers approved the gaming bill by a 52-47 vote. It followed a debate of more than two hours.

Education leaders, horsemen and tribal leaders all lobbied for the bill's approval.

"Never before have we had so many groups in agreement on an issue so important to our state," said House Speaker Larry Adair, (D-Stilwell).

Horsemen in Oklahoma contended they needed gaming approved because of pressure from New Mexico and Louisiana tracks, where slot machines are allowed. They believe purses will increase by more than $30 million at Remington, Will Rogers Downs and Blue Ribbons Downs.

Besides authorizing class II electronic games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games at those racetracks, the gaming compact allows some non-house bank games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: card games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">card games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: card games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">card games.

Opponents said gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling-related social problems, including increased bankruptcies and expenses for social services, will be caused.

"This bill has the potential for more devastating effects to our state, our economy and our family than any bill I've seen in my time," said House Minority Leader Rep. Todd Hiett (R-Kellyville).

The bill passed the Oklahoma Senate by a 30-18 vote last week.


Track gaming deal reached (Oklahoma)
2/11/2004 11:07:58 AM  -  Tulsa World 

OKLAHOMA CITY -- A compromise gaming bill being circulated at the state Capitol would allow electronic games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games similar to slot machines at Oklahoma's private race tracks and sweeten the pot for Tulsa County's Fair Meadows race track to stay out of the market.

Fair Meadows Racing Director Ron Shotts, who had objected to previous versions of the bill, said Monday that he was satisfied with the latest version.

The bill is the state's gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling master plan, which would permit new forms of electronic gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling at struggling race tracks, bring some Indian casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino revenues to the state treasury, and provide a legal framework for continuing electronic games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games at Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos.

Fair Meadows' objections had thrown a wrench into an earlier version of the bill, which is essential to Gov. Brad Henry's budget.

The compromise, hammered out Monday, would give Fair Meadows 5 percent of the revenues from 450 games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games at Tulsa-area Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos with a guarantee of at least $2 million in revenue each year, Shotts said.

The earlier version had put the track's take at 5 percent without the $2 million guarantee.

Shotts said he believed there was also an agreement to exempt Fair Meadows from paying a pari-mutuel tax on simulcast revenues, which would save the track about $600,000, based on last year's figures.

The deal would allow electronic gaming at the state's other race tracks: Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, Remington Park in Oklahoma City and Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.

The electronic games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games involved resemble slot machines, which remain illegal in Oklahoma. The games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games differ in technical ways that allow for their classification within federal categories for games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games like bingo, which is legal in the state.

Horsemen and track officials have said electronic gaming -- already available at Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos in the state -- are essential to the survival of the tracks.

Accompanying the bill would be agreements with some tribes outlining what forms of gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling tribes will offer in their casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos and giving the state a substantial cut.

Henry has estimated the state will get $70 million from the agreements with the tribes.

In initial talks, officials had discussed allowing Fair Meadows, the state's largest and busiest simulcast racing center, to have electronic games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">games also.

But some officials saw a public policy problem with having gambling" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: gambling';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">gambling machines at a track owned by a county trust, and Fair Meadows' competition would further splinter the Tulsa gaming market, where three tribes are carrying out major casino" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casino';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casino expansions.

Shotts said that as he understood it, the deal reached Monday would resolve his concerns.

"If it says what we agreed to, we should be on board," Shotts said.


Oklahoma tracks, casinos agree on proposed slots bill
2/11/2004 10:55:20 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

All parties involved in the latest version of an Indian compact appear to agree on the new terms to allow electronic gaming at racetracks in the state, according to the Tulsa World.

The previous compact agreement allowed machines at Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw, and Will Rogers Downs in Claremore, but none at Tulsa's Fair Meadows. Fair Meadows is paid for not installing the electronic machines.

In the new agreement, Fair Meadows will be paid 5% of the revenues from 450 machines at Tulsa-area Indian casinos with a guarantee of at least $2-million each year, said Ron Shotts, the track’s racing director.

The compact will be re-introduced as Senate Bill 553 and must be approved by both the Oklahoma House and Senate before it becomes law.—John D. Ferguson

Ohio HBPA Won't Allow Signals at Some Oklahoma Casinos
1/27/2004 10:07:30 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

The Ohio Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association has refused to permit signals from Ohio racetracks to go to Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos in Oklahoma pending agreements between tribal authorities and Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen.

"It is our understanding that Oklahoma Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos and outlets contribute little or nothing to horsemen's purses in that state," Ohio HBPA executive director Dan Theno said in a release. "Apparently continued efforts by Oklahoma horsemen to receive a fair share from wagering" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: wagering';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">wagering at Indian casinos" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: casinos';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">casinos has fallen on deaf ears."

Theno said the Ohio HBPA is taking a tougher stance on allowing the export of signals from Ohio's three Thoroughbred tracks--Beulah Park, River Downs, and Thistledown--to out-of-state outlets that don't directly support horsemen's purses in those states. He said requests to allow exports to such outlets would not be well received by Ohio horsemen.

Horsemen's groups in general are taking a closer look at where signals go, and how much revenue is being returned to horsemen for purses. Outlets that don't support live racing programs are particular targets.

The National HBPA, though it takes a position not to interfere in affiliate business, has tackled the issue on a broader scale and will continue discussions during its winter convention Jan. 31-Feb. 4 in New Orleans, La. National HBPA president John Roark said representatives of horsemen's associations from overseas are expected to attend to discuss similar problems.

Beulah Park and River Downs, the majority owners of the AmericaTab account wagering" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: wagering';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">wagering service, had requested to send the Ohio signal to The Stables, Fire Lake Entertainment Center, Tonkawa Bingo, and Comanche Nation games" onmouseover="window.status = 'goto: games';return 1" onmouseout="window.status=''">Games, all of which operate in Oklahoma. The Ohio HBPA denied the request under the Interstate Horseracing Act, which gives horsemen power over where signals are sent.

Currently, only Beulah Park is open for live racing in Ohio. Thistledown and River Downs open in April.

Copyright © 2004 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Oklahoma Governor Backs Track Gaming Bill
1/26/2004 12:25:58 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

Seven years ago, New Mexico's horse racing and breeding industry was choking under competition from American Indian casinos. Track purses were down, and many ranches had even ceased stocking breeding mares.

"We were probably on our last gasp," said Lonnie Barber, executive director of the New Mexico Horsemen's Association. "We were either going to have to get out of the business or go to another state."

So, the New Mexico Legislature passed a law allowing tracks to install up to 750 slot machines, and now purses at Sunland Park across the state line from El Paso, Texas, are up tenfold. Ranches are booming.

"There's more people coming to the track," Barber said. "Our pari-mutuel went up since we got the machines. Sunland Park is up 22 percent on track pari-mutuel handle last year."

It's a success story Gov. Brad Henry and the horse industry would like to emulate in Oklahoma, where competition with Indian casinos and race tracks in New Mexico and Louisiana have crippled tracks and breeders.

They're calling on lawmakers this spring to allow three of the state's four race tracks to have electronic gaming machines similar to those found in the state's more than 80 Indian casinos. This year's session of the Oklahoma Legislature begins on Feb. 2.

Under the bill, the state would get a share of Indian gambling proceeds and increased regulation, while tracks and tribes would get access to more enticing games that are now in legal limbo, said State Finance Director Scott Meacham, who was Henry's point man on the issue.

Henry announced the deal Tuesday. The parties to the agreement are the Choctaw and Chickasaw nations, the horse industry and Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and Will Rogers Downs in Claremore.

"This legislation will help save jobs and produce new funding for education," the governor said.

Similar legislation passed the state Senate in 2003, but failed in the House amid opponents' claims that it would lead to Las Vegas-style gambling in the state.

This year's proposal makes a few changes, and the increasingly dire condition of the state's race tracks make it more likely to pass, officials said.

"With every year that passes you probably have more opportunities," said Rep. Forrest Claunch, a Midwest City Republican who opposes gambling. "The one thing about gambling and greed, they never go away. Good people sometimes grow thin."

But the measure still has many critics, who say expanding gambling will lead to more societal ills like divorce, bankruptcy and suicide.

"The gambling industry made big financial promises to Oklahoma just a few years ago when horse racing was legalized," said Ray Sanders, spokesman for the Baptist General Convention of Oklahoma. "Race tracks are closing because many Oklahomans recognize gambling is not good for our state."

Race track attendance soared shortly after pari-mutuel betting began at Blue Ribbon Downs in 1984, but has declined since Indian gambling took off in the 1990s. Race purses have fallen, making horse breeding and training less profitable.

But the biggest blow has come in the last few years as Louisiana and New Mexico allowed their tracks to enhance live racing and simulcasting with slot machines, sending daily racing payoffs there rocketing to as much as six times greater than those in Oklahoma.

It has meant that more and more racers are ignoring Oklahoma, pressing purses even farther down here and further reducing attendance in a plummeting spiral.

"We have fewer horses," said Dale Day, spokesman for Remington Park, the state's largest track. "When you have fewer horses, you're not getting that handle money to keep the purse structure going."

Remington's richest race, the Oklahoma Derby, saw its purse drop to just $150,000 this year down from $300,000 a few years ago, Day said. Attendance at last fall's Remington races fell by 28 percent, according to a state audit.

All this also hurts breeders, whose clients are increasingly choosing rivals in New Mexico and Louisiana because races there offer premium awards to winners that were bred in-state.

"We've had clients that have bred here for 15 to 20 years, but they have started to send some mares to New Mexico or Louisiana," said Butch Wise, manager of the Lazy E Ranch in Guthrie. "As breeders, if their horse wins the race in those inflated purses, they stand to gain monetarily."

Wise, Henry and others warn that if the horse industry downfall continues, then ranches, tracks, feed stores, trailer companies and fence builders are all in jeopardy.

"It sounds like you all need something," said New Mexico's Barber. "I don't know how you got it set up, and I don't know what the proposals are, but definitely, it kept our industry alive. I'll put it that way."

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

State Audit Shows Oklahoma Racing in Trouble
1/9/2004 1:22:37 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

In the latest sign of trouble for horse racing in Oklahoma, the state's largest track, Remington Park, posted a nearly $8 million decrease in wagering and decreased attendance in 2003.

Attendance at Remington Park's Aug. 22-Nov. 30 meet dropped 28%, meaning about 37,000 fewer people attended races, according to an audit released Wednesday.

"They are hurting," said Jeff McMahan, state auditor and inspector. "There's no question they're in trouble."

Oklahoma has four pari-mutuel race tracks. Fair Meadows in Tulsa is also facing similar decreases in attendance and wagering. Will Rogers Downs in Claremore didn't apply for pari-mutuel racing in 2003 and Sallisaw's Blue Ribbon Downs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in September.

Gordon Hare, executive director of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission, said competition in neighboring states and Internet betting is taking a toll on tracks in Oklahoma.

"Figures have been moving downward for several years," Hare said. "We need to stem the tide of decrease for sure."

Horse racing tracks want the Oklahoma Legislature to allow them to offer gaming in hopes of boosting revenue.

Scott Meacham, state Finance Director, has been negotiating since May with officials from the state's tribes, racetracks and horsemen's groups to form a compact to allow such gaming, but talks have stalled since a rift formed between the Choctaws, who recently bought Blue Ribbon Downs, and the Cherokees.

"We think the only hope for Remington Park to survive is if the gaming bill is adopted," Meacham said.

Horse breeding and racing is the state's third largest industry, behind agriculture and oil and gas, employing 57,000 people and accounting for an estimated $3 billion in economic activity each year.

"Some way we need to find our way as a state to support this industry," Hare said. "We've got an important industry here at stake."

Copyright © 2004 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

Choctaw tribe granted license, racing dates for Blue Ribbon
1/9/2004 1:12:48 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

The Oklahoma Racing Commission on Thursday granted a pari-mutuel license and racing dates to the Choctaw Indian tribe for operation of Blue Ribbon Downs in 2004.

The tribe bought Blue Ribbon in November. The Sallisaw, Oklahoma, track will run two mixed meets for Quarter Horses and Thoroughbreds, the first extending from February 21 to May 1 and the second from August 6 to October 30. The tribe plans to make repairs to the track surface and some barns before the first meet begins, Daily Racing Form reports.

Obituary: Normie Thomas Jr.
11/30/2003 4:35:44 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2003 

The backstretch recently lost one of Oklahoma’s finest horsemen when Normie Thomas Jr. passed away after a brief battle with inoperable brain cancer. In more than 40 years of training, “Junior” raced throughout the Southwest and Midwest. He consistently had a high win percentage, and his best-known runner was probably Darrell Darrell. “Junior” will certainly be missed.

Push for Expanded Gaming at Racetracks Continues
11/30/2003 4:34:48 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2003 

A coalition of horsemen representing all breeds that race in Oklahoma and the racetracks are continuing efforts to be allowed the same types of gaming that are offered by Native American Indian tribes in the state. While tribal facilities are permitted to offer wagering on simulcast races, in addition to Class II games, racetracks are not allowed to offer any type of wagering other than pari-mutuel on horse races.

Not unexpectedly, due to the competition, purses at the state’s three racetracks that continue to operate have declined to an all-time low. For example, in the 1990s, Remington Park had as many as 120 days of racing for Thoroughbreds, with as much as $100,000 a day in purses. Now, less than $60,000 a day is offered for a Thoroughbred meet of half that number of days.

Information gathering continues to determine how much is wagered on simulcast races at tribal simulcast facilities and, more importantly, why horsemen do not receive their share of the handle. The State Auditor’s annual report verifies that 7.3% of handle at simulcast facilities licensed by the state (OHRC) goes to purses for horsemen. There is no requirement or agreement for any percentage of handle at Native American Indian tribal simulcast facilities to go to horsemen.

2004 Racing Dates
11/30/2003 4:33:41 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2003 

A total of 172 days of racing among the state’s three racetracks were approved for 2004 at the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission’s September meeting.

Remington Park in Oklahoma City was approved for 28 days of Quarter Horse, Paint, and Appaloosa racing from March 20 to May 30. The OHRC approved 65 days of Thoroughbred racing at Remington Park, from July 30 to November 28.

A total of 30 days for two fair meets at Fair Meadows of Tulsa were approved for June 7 to July 24, 2004. The Fair Meadows meets will have races for all breeds.

Blue Ribbon Downs was originally approved for a total of 49 race days for 2004. However, the recent sale of Blue Ribbon Downs to Backstretch, LLC, will have to be approved for new race dates for 2004.

Blue Ribbon Downs Purchased by Choctaw Nation
11/30/2003 4:32:52 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Winter 2003 

Blue Ribbon Downs, Oklahoma’s oldest pari-mutuel racetrack, has been purchased by Backstretch, LLC, a company owned by the Choctaw Nation (a Native American Indian tribe in southeastern Oklahoma). The sale was finalized less than a day before a court-ordered bankruptcy foreclosure sale scheduled for November 4.

Blue Ribbon Downs has traditionally conducted race meets that included Thoroughbreds, Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas. Usually, approximately 35% of races have been for Thoroughbreds. In recent years, racing has been on weekends for approximately 84 days per year, and bottom purses have declined to $1,600. Frank Deal, former general manager of Remington Park, and Blaine Story, past president of the Oklahoma HBPA, were named as part of the management team for Backstretch, LLC.

Blue Ribbon to end season as dates sought for 2004
11/7/2003 12:43:39 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Backstretch LLC, the Texas company formed by the Choctaw Nation last month as a vehicle for the Native American tribe to purchase Blue Ribbon Downs, is seeking pari-mutuel dates for next year. In the meantime, this weekend will signal the end of the current season at the Sallisaw, Oklahoma, racetrack.

Backstretch purchased Blue Ribbon for $4.25-million on Monday, the day before the property was set to be auctioned. Blue Ribbon’s season was scheduled to end on November 23 with the Black Gold Futurity.

Instead, the track will run nonpari-mutuel trials for those races this weekend with the finals to be held at Magna Entertainment’s Remington Park in Oklahoma City, the Associated Press reports.

Choctaw Nation Buys Blue Ribbon Downs
11/5/2003 9:16:21 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

Backstretch LLC, a private company wholly-owned by the Choctaw Nation of Oklahoma, closed a deal Monday to purchase Blue Ribbon Downs, one day before the Sallisaw, Okla. track was to be auctioned. Blue Ribbon Downs was slated to be put up for bid to pay a $2.9-million debt owed the city of Sallisaw by the track's previous owners, Race Horses Inc. The Choctaw Nation owns 14 gaming facilities in Oklahoma with class II licenses. This will be the Choctaw's first racetrack.

"We want to be part of improving horse racing and the gaming industry in general in Oklahoma," said Choctaw chief Greg Pyle. "We feel our acquisition of Blue Ribbon Downs will have a positive effect on the horse racing industry in Oklahoma."

Beginning Saturday, Blue Ribbon Downs has three weekends of live racing remaining on the schedule this year. A spokesperson for the tribe said if the Oklahoma Racing Commission does not grant temporary authority this week to conduct the races then they would be held at Remington Park or would be conducted as non-wagering contests at Blue Ribbon Downs.

Frank Deal, the former general manager of Remington Park, and Blaine Story, former president of the Oklahoma Hosemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, will make up the new management of Blue Ribbon Downs. Backstretch LLC and Blue Ribbon Downs will be subject to the rules of racing commission.

The Choctaw Nation plans to refurbish the track and barn area at Blue Ribbon Downs prior to the opening of its next live meet, which begins in March. Judy Allen, public relations director for the Choctaw Nation, said money earned at the tribe's other gaming enterprises will be used for the initial upgrades to the track.

"We've been in gaming for several years and I think we have the means to improve the track initially and to improve things for the horseman," Allen said. "We think by doing this we can gain greater interest from the public. By the time the spring meet rolls around you're going to see a huge difference."

Copyright © 2003 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Uncertain Times in Oklahoma
10/8/2003 2:22:56 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Fall 2003 

Oklahoma’s Thoroughbred industry currently faces an uncertain future. A chief factor contributing to our plight comes from 70-plus Native American casinos located throughout the state. In 25 to 30 of these locations, pari-mutuel wagering is offered on “out-of-state” simulcast signals (almost three times the number of racetracks and OHRC approved OTBs). Local horsemen no longer receive a percentage of revenue being derived from these interstate simulcast signals. Some tribes have, in the past, made such payments to local horsemen; that currently is not the case. Yet the tribes continue to receive their percentage of revenue from these signals. Research shows that the majority of horsemen who approve the sending of their signals “into Oklahoma” for off-track wagering purposes think that local horsemen are being compensated for wagers on that signal (wherever it is sent into our state).

Leadership of the Oklahoma HBPA is undertaking the task of gathering and evaluating information regarding tribal simulcasts and its effect on Oklahoma’s horse racing industry. Preliminary estimates indicate that millions of dollars are wagered at tribal casinos, with little or no benefit returning to the Oklahoma horse industry. Tribal handle can only be estimated, as they are not required to provide this information to the public. “Getting the pot right” regarding this issue is crucial if live racing is expected to continue in Oklahoma.

Several of these casinos operate only a few miles from our state’s (three) racetracks and their OTB locations. This was a contributing factor in one of our tracks (Will Rogers Downs) not racing in 2002-2003 and another (Blue Ribbon Downs) filing for bankruptcy protection. The remaining two tracks’ (Remington Park and Fair Meadows) futures are also in question, as they too have seen their business rapidly erode and purse structures reduced to all-time lows.

In addition to the simulcast issue, there is the issue of the competition our racetracks and horsemen face regarding electronic and other types of gaming offered at tribal casinos. Our industry is currently limited to only one form of gaming (pari-mutuel wagering), while the tribes offer simulcast wagering along with other forms of gaming. It is not hard to imagine where the public’s entertainment dollar is being spent.

An attempt to “level the playing field” was addressed during our last legislative session. A bill designed, in part, to help horsemen, passed the Senate but did not make it out of committee for a vote in the House. With alternative gaming, the horse industry could contribute millions of dollars in taxes from wagers made at the tracks into the state’s depleted budget (the tribes provide none), while at the same time help save our state’s third largest industry from extinction. Governor Brad Henry, along with Senator Cal Hobson, have vowed to continue their search for means in which parity can be achieved between Oklahoma’s horse industry and the Native American gaming operations in our state.

It will be tragic if lawmakers and fellow horsemen alike do not realize until it is too late just how important the horse industry was in Oklahoma.

Changes abound as Magna tries to revitalize track (Remington Park)
8/21/2003 10:21:24 AM  -  Daily Racing Form 

Remington Park management is attempting to regroup this year. The Oklahoma City track is owned by Magna Entertainment, which last year considered closing the facility because of declining business. Instead it has made a number of operational changes, which include shortening its Thoroughbred meet, which opens Friday night. The 57-day season will run through Nov. 30.

Remington also has moved the date of its premier race, the Oklahoma Derby, to Nov. 16; brought in new staff; developed an aggressive promotional calendar; and is working closer with its sister track Lone Star Park, which is also owned by Magna.

The Oklahoma Derby, a Grade 3 race worth $150,000, is usually one of the first stakes of the meet, but this year it has been moved back on the calendar

"We've positioned ourselves as the last dirt, graded 3-year-old spot [at two turns] in the country," said Fred Hutton, director of racing at Remington.

As for new staff, R.D. Logan took over as general manager of Remington in January. He came to the track from Lone Star, where he was director of security. Logan is a past president of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association.

He said one of the biggest changes this meet is the decision to race nights on Saturdays.

"We started doing that during the Quarter Horse meet and it seemed to improve our attendance," he said.

Logan added that over the past few months he has seen renewed patron interest. Remington has worked hard to improve customer services, he said, and earlier this year hired a new chef to boost food quality.

The meet's promotional calendar has been expanded. There will be live music between races every Friday night on the track apron - something Lone Star Park also does.

A concert featuring Cross Canadian Ragweed is set for Aug. 29, and will kick off the track's 15th anniversary celebration, which is on Sept. 1.

In other changes, Remington's signal is expected to go into several new sites, including Las Vegas, Chicago, West Virginia, and Indiana.

In addition to its Thoroughbred season, Remington this year held a shortened Quarter Horse meet and for the first time ran a mixed meet. For 2004, Remington has filed an amended dates request with the Oklahoma Racing Commission, requesting 28 days of Quarter Horse racing from April 2 through May 31 and 65 days of Thoroughbred racing from July 30 through Nov. 28.

The proposal was to be considered by the commission Thursday.

In recent years, Remington has faced increased competition from Native American casinos and OTB's in Oklahoma, as well as slots-rich tracks in Louisiana and New Mexico.

Track officials have worked in conjunction with other Oklahoma racing groups this year in an attempt to pass a bill that would allow the state's tracks to have the same type of gaming as the Indian casinos. The bill was passed by the Senate, but was not called up for a vote in the House before the session ended.

"It can still be brought up in the same vehicle or possibly something else," said Logan.

On the racing front, the Oklahoma Derby tops a 20-race stakes schedule worth about $1 million. Trainer Donnie Von Hemel will shoot for his 12th title at Remington this meet, while jockey Cliff Berry is looking for his ninth.

Purses will average about $75,000 a program. The feature on the eight-race opener is a starter allowance on turf that drew the consistent 9-year-old Bid the Zeal.

At a glance: Remington Park

RACING SCHEDULE: 57 days; Friday through Nov. 30. Racing on a Friday through Sunday schedule until Sept. 11, when the track will add Thursdays. A special Monday card will be run Sept. 1.

POST TIME: 6:45 p.m. Central nightly except Sundays, when first post is 1:15 p.m. There is also a special 1:15 p.m. post Sept. 1.

ADMISSIONS: General, $3.50; Clubhouse upgrade, $1 additional. Active duty military and children age 17 and under are admitted free, while retired military and patrons 62 and older receive a reduced general admission of $1.50.

PARKING: Free; Valet, $5.

HIGHLIGHTS: Grade 3, $150,000-added Oklahoma Derby on Nov. 16; $125,000 DeBartolo Memorial Breeders' Cup Turf Handicap on Sept. 1; $285,000 Oklahoma Classics Day program featuring seven restricted stakes Sept. 27; $75,000 MEC Mile for 2-year-olds Nov. 30.


New Board of Directors is Seated in Oklahoma
6/11/2003 10:38:22 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2003 

A new president and a new Board of Directors were seated in April of 2003 following the conclusion of the spring election. Achieving re-election as incumbents were owners Brenda Royse (vice president) and L. Keith Farris. Newcomers Sharon Henthorn, Marianne Miller, and former director Marion Davidson round out the owner side. Alternate is Ann Ethridge-Pratt.

On the trainer/owner-trainer side, incumbents Donnie K. Von Hemel, Cliff Darnell, Lynn Chleborad, and Bill Anderson are joined by former director Clinton Stuart. Alternate is Michael A. Gass II.

Joe Lucas of Goldsby is the new 2003-2006 president of the Oklahoma HBPA.

Gaming Bill at the Forefront of Oklahoma HBPA
6/11/2003 10:37:32 PM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Summer 2003 

Horsemen’s groups representing all breeds, as well as representatives from all of Oklahoma’s racetracks, have been in meetings for the past six months focused on passage of a measure to achieve Class II parity for the tracks with the 70 tribal casinos located statewide. Senate Bill 553 was co-authored by Senate President Pro Tempore Cal Hobson (D-Lexington) and by House Speaker Larry Adair (D-Stillwell). At the time of this writing, it had passed both the House and Senate and was in Conference Committee. How successful that conference committee report is, and ultimately whether the passed report is signed into law by newly-elected Governor Brad Henry, could well tell the tale on whether horse racing of any significance continues in Oklahoma, or whether live racing goes by the wayside, as it has in so many other states where alternative gaming has been voted down.

The impact of the tribal locations in offering gaming, in addition to simulcast wagering on horse racing, has been profound on the business fortunes, and thus horsemen’s lives, for the past five to six years. At Remington Park, where average daily live attendance for the first five years of operation was typically 6,000 to 7,000, that number has slipped to just over 2,500 in the past decade. Even the addition of a state-of-the-art lighting system a year and a half ago has failed to attract new patrons to a night racing format. Without the assistance of equal footing with the tribes operating and competing for patrons in Oklahoma, prospects look bleak indeed.

The Oklahoma HBPA, led by its Board of Directors and new 2003-2006 President Joe Lucas, has rallied support for the bill and has attempted to solicit contact with Oklahoma Senators and Representatives from the entire membership roster in Oklahoma. A direct-mail plea outlining the importance of the bill and its role in the future of racing in Oklahoma was sent out during the last two weeks of the session. It was done in cooperation with the other major representative organization in Oklahoma, the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association. Additionally, response cards for horsemen and those dependent upon the horse industry in Oklahoma were distributed at the racetracks running live during May, Fair Meadows at Tulsa and Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw.

The future of racing in Oklahoma has never been at a more critical stage.

Oklahoma Industry: Racetrack Gaming Key to Survival
5/31/2003 6:27:59 PM  -  Blood-Horse 

The future of Remington Park and perhaps the future of the entire Thoroughbred industry in Oklahoma could depend on a vote by House of Representatives to legalize electronic gaming at the state's racetracks. The bill passed the Senate by 25-19 vote May 29 and is awaiting approval by the House. The Oklahoma legislative session ends at 5 p.m. CDT May 30.

"The bill was not brought up in the House (after it passed the Senate) because the leadership believed there were not enough votes to support it," said Corey Johnsen, group vice president of southern operations for Magna Entertainment Corp., which owns Remington. "And as of right now, it's unlikely that it would heard (May 30)."

Johnsen said Remington plans to hold its 2003 meet, which runs from Aug. 22-Nov. 30, and apply for 2004 racing dates.

"We just plan to take things one step at a time," Johnsen said. "We'll apply for 2004 dates and will run the 2003 meeting and see where the legislative efforts take us in Oklahoma. A decision concerning the long-term status of the track will be decided in the future."

Donna Picou, executive director of the 500-plus membership of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association, said it is critical the legislature understands horsemen need a level playing field with Indian casinos.

"This is very critical to the entire state," Picou said. "If this doesn't pass and if we aren't placed on a level playing field, the horsemen can just pack up and leave. It's the nature of the business. They can just find another place to race, breed, and buy farms in which to live on. This will be the state's loss."

Copyright © 2003 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Remington Park Field Size Among Leaders in U. S.
4/25/2003 9:09:24 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2003 

Boasting an average field size of 9.26 starters per contest, Remington Park continued to be among the elite in the United States. The only racetracks ranking above Remington Park, of the nearly 100 recognized tracks active in the U. S. were: Kentucky Downs (10.39), Atlantic City (10.14), Atokad (9.88), Sunland (9.80), Lone Star Park (9.54), Mountaineer (9.39), and Fair Meadows (9.37).

It is worth noting that the top three in that list raced a combined six race days and really cannot be compared fairly with extended meets.

With current negotiations underway to pass legislation that would permit Class II gaming at the racetracks, this trend should be bolstered with the larger purses that gaming would mean to the racing industry in Oklahoma.

Election of Directors and President for a 2003-2006 Term for Oklahoma HBPA
4/25/2003 9:08:20 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2003 

Election of a new Board of Directors and Affiliate President will be on the minds of Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen this spring. Late in February or early in March, ballots will be mailed to each owner, trainer, and owner-trainer that started a horse during the Thoroughbred meeting at Remington Park in 2002. Ballots must be signed and returned to the C.P.A. counting the ballots in the postage paid envelope enclosed. Please be advised that the bylaws prohibit write-in voting.

Candidates for President are: owner Ann Ethridge-Pratt, owner-trainer Joe Lucas, and owner-trainer Michael A. Gass II.

Competing for owner director are: L. Keith Farris, Sharon Henthorn, Carol Williams, Ann Ethridge-Pratt, Nelda Kettles, Brenda Royse, Marianne Miller, and Marion Davidson.

Vying for owner-trainer director positions are: Joe Lucas, Cliff Darnell, Clinton Stuart, Leo Deutsch, Sherri Shepherd, Donnie Von Hemel, Lynn Chleborad, Michael A. Gass II, John Lowder, Joe Wilkins, Shane Castor, and Bill Anderson.

The ballots should be counted and a new Board and president named in March of this year. The new Board will be seated seven days following completion of the election.

Thoroughbreds to Compete at Fair Meadows Again in 2003
4/25/2003 9:07:00 AM  -  The Horsemen''s Journal - Spring 2003 

The ruling at a special meeting of the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission (OHRC) on February 12, 2003, paved the way for Thoroughbreds to again be included in the live racing program at Fair Meadows in Tulsa in 2003. Earlier, the OHRC had approved a license for Fair Meadows including only Paint, Appaloosa and Quarter Horse racing, with Thoroughbreds denied participation in 2003.

Despite strenuous objection to this license by the Oklahoma HBPA and by numerous Oklahoma Thoroughbred horsemen, the order was not appealed by Fair Meadows, and only in January of this year did Director of Racing Operations Ron Shotts undersign a document (submitted by the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Association) to add Thoroughbred racing to the state fair and county fair meets in 2003.

Under the orders issued by the OHRC, Thoroughbreds will be accorded 25% of the simulcast revenue, based on participation in three of each day/night’s 12 live events. The three races per card is comparable to the reduced ratio that Thoroughbreds saw in 2002, down from the 165 races for Thoroughbreds at Fair Meadows in Tulsa in 2001, which was typical of previous years in which a 45/45/10 ratio (Thoroughbred/Quarter Horse/Paint and Appaloosa) was the norm.

Tracks, tribes at odds
4/20/2003 7:49:02 PM  -  The Oklahoman 

Oklahoma could lose its $3.2 billion horse- racing industry without legislation allowing pari- mutuel tracks to compete with Indian casinos, an industry official said.

Senate Bill 553 would authorize pari-mutuel tracks to offer the same gaming devices used in Indian casinos.

"If we don't get this, the horse industry is leaving Oklahoma," said Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association.

The horse industry wants the law so Oklahoma's four racetracks can offer the games already played at tribal gaming centers, Schauf said.

The four tracks are Remington Park in Oklahoma City, Fair Meadows in Tulsa, Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and Will Rogers Downs in Claremore. Will Rogers Downs didn't apply for pari-mutuel racing this year. Blue Ribbon Downs filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy last September.

Tribes have about 60 casinos, Senate leader Cal Hobson said.

Representatives of the Choctaw, Creek and Cherokee tribes said they oppose the bill because allowing the devices at racetracks would cut into their casino businesses. Tommy Thomas, a former legislator and now a lobbyist for the Choctaw Nation, said he could see no benefit to the tribe from the legislation offered by House Speaker Larry Adair and Hobson.

"We're not in support of that," Thomas said. "I think the leadership of the House and Senate intend to visit with the tribes to see if there's a possibility of some agreement."

The legislation would take a share of the gaming market from the tribes, Thomas said.

Tribes have proven they provide services for tribal members with some of the money earned from the gaming facilities, he said.

Those services include medical care and scholarships, he said.

A similar law enabled New Mexico to save its racetracks, a New Mexico official said.

The types of games offered in Oklahoma tribal casinos are Class II gaming such as bingo and pull tabs.

Class III casino games such as slot machines, roulette, lotteries and blackjack would not be allowed at the tracks under the proposed law.

The legislation is designed to keep the pari- mutuel horse racing operations financially healthy but would require support from Oklahoma's tribes, legislative leaders said.

The legislation would provide additional revenue to the state from the tracks and the tribal operations, Hobson said.

The bill so far is a "shell bill," meaning it has no substantive language in it. The measure is in the House of Representatives and scheduled to go to a House-Senate conference committee.

Hobson said he's always cared about the horse racing tracks, but the real issue for him is protecting the horse breeders, the farms and the ranches that buy hay, feed and seed and invest in acreage with their horse operations.

"That's what we should not lose," Hobson said.

The $3.2 billion horse industry is directly responsible for 20,000 jobs and indirectly responsible for 50,000 jobs, Schauf said.

A task force of the horse industry has been working on proposals for the legislation, Schauf said. Tribal gaming is in direct competition with Oklahoma's racetracks, she said.

Dollars from pari-mutuel operations have dwindled because the tracks can't compete with the games the tribes are offering, she said.

Texas is trying to get a similar law passed, and Louisiana, New Mexico and Iowa have such a law, she said.

"We don't want to step on their toes or restrict what they are doing," she said of the tribes. Hobson said the horse industry wants the proposed law to create a level playing field with the tribes.

However, nothing will happen without an agreement of the tribes and the horse industry, said Hobson, D-Lexington.

Adair, D-Stilwell, said, "Tribal leaders that are engaged in gaming activities are going to have to be at the table with us to be able to pass this legislation."

Gov. Brad Henry, who is interested in the legislation, said, "Oklahoma's horse industry is an important player in the state economy, and I want to do what I can to help it. Its viability is linked to the viability of Oklahoma's pari-mutuel horse racing industry and unfortunately, the racetracks have fallen on difficult times in recent years."

The governor said representatives of the horse industry have suggested they would be more successful if the state allowed the tracks to offer the same type of games found in tribal gaming facilities.

"Because of my desire to help Oklahoma horsemen and the overall state economy, I have told them that I will keep an open mind on the issue," Henry said.

Hobson said the horse industry and the tribes must be satisfied with the legislation before it can be enacted.

An aim of the legislation would be to have gaming compacts between the state and the tribes, he said.

Indian gaming is regulated by the federal government.

For tribes, an advantage of a gaming compact with the state is it would verify that the games at tribal facilities are considered legal by the state, Hobson said. "What has transpired in other states is a statement from the state that the activities appearing at the facilities are recognized by the state as appropriate activities," he said.

Howard Barnett, chief of staff for former Gov. Frank Keating, was involved in working with tribes on a compact. Although tribal gaming is regulated by the federal government, a state compact would help the tribes and reduce the uncertainty tribes have in operations, he said.

Tribes continuously have conflict with federal regulatory authorities over what is legal gambling for the tribal operations, he said. "Under federal law, they can only play games that are legal in Oklahoma," Barnett, a Tulsa businessman, explained.

From the tribes' viewpoint, Oklahoma law is gray in that area, he said. A compact would remove the gray areas, he said. If the state said what the tribes do is OK, the federal government probably would leave the tribes alone, Barnett said.

"The question is: What games are you going to give tribes and what are you going to ask for in return (in a compact)?" Barnett said. In New Mexico, legislation similar to the kind proposed in Oklahoma legitimized the games and kept pari-mutuel tracks in existence, said Paul Gordon, administration manager of the New Mexico Racing Commission.

"There wouldn't be a racetrack open in New Mexico if they didn't have gaming devices," he said. Margaret Erling, a lobbyist for the Cherokee Nation, said the proposal could have a large financial impact on the gaming facilities of the Cherokee and Creek tribes in the Tulsa area, since Fair Meadows is in Tulsa.

Steve Kelley, who represents the Muscogee (Creek) Nation , said "We're concerned about the expansion of Class II gaming. We understand what the legislation is trying do to. We'd hate to see them rob Peter to pay Paul."

Hobson remains optimistic that something can be worked out. "I've seen miracles occur the last night of the session, and we have six weeks," Hobson said. "It will be very hard, but talented people on both sides of this issue are trying to find answers and solutions for us."

Oklahoma alternative gaming measures move forward
4/20/2003 5:26:44 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Legislation to aid Oklahoma's three financially strapped racetracks to install Class II gaming machines received approval from the House Rules Committee on April 3.

The bill, authored by Senate Pro Tempore Cal Hobson (D-Lexington) is a way for Remington Park, Fair Meadows, and Blue Ribbon Downs to compete with the more than 60 Indian casinos throughout the state. The tracks have struggled since various Native American tribes have been allowed to offer Class II gaming and racing simulcasts.

"We've invested so much money up to this point, and we've been in operation for close to 20 years, it just seems that it really would be a shame not to see if there's something we could do to help get them out of the problems they're having right now," said House Speaker Larry Adair (D-Stilwell).

Class II gaming includes bingo and electronic games called pull tabs. The three racetracks are interested in electronic pull tabs only.

R. D. Logan, Remington Park's general manager, was pleased at the progress of legislators.

"It is an encouraging sign," Logan said. "Members of the Legislature are realizing the need to equal the playing field with the Indians as far as gaming is concerned."—John Ferguson


Oklahoma legislators introduce gaming bills for racetracks
1/29/2003 3:56:22 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

A trio of Oklahoma lawmakers have introduced bills in the state Legislature that would allow state racetracks to operate gaming devices such as bingo, pull tabs, punch boards, and tip jars.

State Representative Clay Pope (D-Loyal), Representative Wayne Pettigrew (R-Edmond), and Senator Cal Hobson (D-Lexington) have introduced separate bills that could help the racing industry. Pope’s and Pettigrew’s bills specifically are aimed at assisting the state’s struggling tracks, while Hobson’s bill is a shell bill that could be used for the same purpose.

"If we don’t pass a bill this year, we won’t have a track in 18 months in the state of Oklahoma," Pettigrew told the Oklahoman newspaper.

Racetracks contend that they need the gaming devices to help them compete with the state’s Indian casinos. Blue Ribbon Downs in Sallisaw and Remington Park in Oklahoma City have lobbied particularly hard for gambling machines.

"I don’t know what the horse industry can do," Hobson told the Oklahoman. "I’ve met with them. I’ll fill [the shell bill] out when they come back to me with an agreement. If they don’t come back to me with an agreement, I’ve learned that if the horse people are not all on the same page, there’s nothing you can do."

Hobson is alluding to infighting in Oklahoma between tracks and horsemen, particularly between the Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse breeds. His bill does not say how profits from gambling machines would be split among the entities.

Pope’s bill is more specific, calling for 2% of adjusted gross revenue for the state, 10% to tracks in Oklahoma and Tulsa Counties, 5% to the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission to support breeding programs, including half of that amount for Thoroughbred programs. Tracks would keep 21.5% for purses, and the additional leftover amount to track operators.

"My big issue is I don’t see this as an expansion of gaming," Pettigrew said, referring to the fact that Indian casinos already have electronic bingo machines that the racetracks would also like to operate.

Average daily handle, attendance decline at Remington Park
12/19/2002 1:22:00 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Remington Park concluded its 71-day Thoroughbred meet on December 15 and posted decreases in daily averages for attendance and handle. Since Remington had run just a 59-day meet last year, the park’s 2002 numbers were higher overall, but averages at the Oklahoma City track dropped by double digits. Daily attendance averaged 1,851, a 20% decrease from 2001, and handle dipped to $407,964 per day, a 17% decline.

In addition to those disappointing numbers, Remington horsemen also felt a pinch as daily average purses fell 14% to $80,830. However, fields averaged 9.26 horses per race.

Remington Park, Oklahoma commission agree on 2003 dates
11/15/2002 9:26:03 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Remington Park and the Oklahoma Racing Commission on Thursday agreed upon a 2003 racing schedule granting the Oklahoma City track a 57-day Thoroughbred meeting and two mixed meets totaling 25 days. The first mixed meet of 13 dates from June 27 through July 20 will be made up of Quarter Horses, Paints and Appaloosas, with no Thoroughbreds. The second mixed meet from July 25 through August 17 will also include Thoroughbreds. The Thoroughbred-only meet will follow from August 22 through November 30.

Remington, which is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., had appealed two previous date assignments from the commission over the last two months involving mixed breed racing. At one point, Magna threatened to shut the track down.

"The cooperation shown by the Oklahoma Horsemen's Benevolent and Protection Association and Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association was very encouraging and is a positive sign that our horse racing industry is coming together, " said Corey Johnsen, group vice president of Magna’s Florida, Oklahoma, and Texas operations. "Now that we have 2003 race date situation solidified, our next step is to work together toward a common legislative platform, which will take Oklahoma horse racing to another level."

Oklahoma Dates Compromise is No Solution, Say Horsemen
10/20/2002 10:39:05 AM  -  Blood-Horse 

The Oklahoma Racing Commission approved a compromise racing schedule that tried to preserve a Quarter Horse meet at Remington Park, while allowing the financially trouble track to stay open. The trouble is that no one likes the compromise and some horsemen feel it was railroaded through by commissioners.

Since August, Remington Park has been struggling with a way to cut losses that have escalated to about $4.7 million annually. The Oklahoma City track had reached a deal with Fair Meadows in Tulsa and Blue Ribbon Downs near Sallisaw to run only a Thoroughbred meet and transfer all its Quarter Horse dates to Fair Meadows.

The racing commission ruled in September that Remington Park, which is owned by Magna Entertainment, had to run Quarter Horse dates in 2003. The track came back with an alternative proposal Oct. 17; it would run a 20-day mixed that would include Thoroughbreds and a 50-day meet for only Thoroughbreds. After extensive testimony and debate, the commission went into a closed door executive session for two hours and came out with a solution that was quite different than Remington and the other tracks proposed. Remington is required to run a 20-day mixed meet for Quarter Horses, Appaloosas, and Paints only from Aug. 7 to Sept. 1 and a 50-day Thoroughbred meet from Sept. 5 to Nov. 30. The commission also awarded a 36-day Quarter Horse meet to Fair Meadows and ordered it not run any Thoroughbred races. Next year will be the first time since Fair Meadows opened in 1989 that it won't run Thoroughbreds.

"This solution is unacceptable," said Chuck Clugston, vice president of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Association. "For the first time I know of the three racetracks came up with a compromise proposal and they spent a considerable amount of time working it out. The commission does have the authority to change a proposal, but the mistake they made, in my opinion, is...they went into executive session and immediately passed something that was completely different than what was discussed without getting any further input from the parties involved."

Besides being forced to run a Quarter Horse meet during which it claims to be losing money, Remington is now faced with starting a Thoroughbred meet three days after the Quarter Horse meet ends, which could be a logistical nightmare, according to Clugston and others.

Ron Kennedy, executive director of the Oklahoma Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association, said he was disappointed with the commission's solution that statewide provides 56 days of Quarter Horse racing and 50 days for Thoroughbreds in 2003.

"We enjoyed 1,200 races in 1988 and we are now below 600 races," Kennedy said, referring to the year Remington Park opened. "It is not right and it's not fair. It still is the simulcasting of Thoroughbreds that continues to build the purses at Fair Meadows and Blue Ribbon Downs."

Magna has 10 days to accept or reject the proposed schedule. Corey Johnsen, who is president of Lone Star Park, represented Magna at the commission meeting (Magna is expected within a week to close on the purchase of Lone Star). Johnsen said he hopes the schedule can be modified.

"We need to take the time and visit with the horsemen's groups before we consider a course of action," he said. "We can make another proposal."

Debbie Schauf, executive director of the Oklahoma Quarter Horse Racing Association could not be reached for comment after the meeting. Published reports, however, have said Quarter Horse industry leaders don't like the proposal because it doesn't provide enough days of live racing and the dates are in August rather than in the spring. Remington ran a 34-day Quarter Horse meet from April to June.

Before the meeting, Schauf said the question to be answered was whether 60 or 70 days of live racing at the state's only Class I racetrack is enough.

"The Thoroughbred industry can't live on that either," she said. "It would be different if they would offer $250,000 a day in purses, but look at what they are doing now?" Last year, Remington average $97,000 a day for both Thoroughbreds and Quarter Horse meets.

"The only way for people to stay alive and run their homebreds is to run more than 60 days a year," Schauf said. "Magna's numbers show they lose the most money when they don't run live racing and lose the least during Quarter Horse racing."

Copyright © 2002 The Blood-Horse, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Indian gaming compromises racing revenue in Oklahoma
10/8/2002 11:03:14 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Separate studies by Harvard University and University of Oklahoma Economics Professor Alexander Holmes have found that the success of Indian gaming in Oklahoma comes at the expense of the state’s racetracks. Track attendance dropped 70% from 1989 to ’98, while betting on Oklahoma races dropped 76.8% from 1995 to ’99.

"Although it is impossible to measure how much of the [horse racing] decline is due to expanded Indian gaming and simulcasting in Oklahoma, there can be no doubt that the impact is significant," Holmes told The Oklahoman. Holmes prepared his study for Oklahoma’s three horsemen groups.

Currently, 55 Indian facilities offer high-stakes bingo, pull tabs, and slot machines while 15 facilities offer simulcast wagering. Those facilities give Oklahoma’s tracks their biggest competition.

The Harvard study, financed by the Oklahoma Indian Gaming Association, concluded that Indian gaming has been a watershed development in Oklahoma economics, employing 3,857 people—27% of which are non-Native Americans.

Gaming revenues have added about $329-million to the gross state product, and tribes have used profits to fund scholarships, health care services, and Head Start programs.

The Holmes study found that Indian gaming has a negative impact on the state because of its effect on the racing industry. Holmes said that as many as 19,700 Oklahoma jobs are related to horse racing, which has more than a $1.1-billion influence the economy.

Wagering figures were not the only factors in the studies, which showed the number of horses registered in the Oklahoma-bred program has dropped 48.4% from 4,998 in 1991 to 2,576 in 2000.

"From a public policy perspective, the racehorse breeding industry provides significantly greater economic development opportunities than do most forms of the entertainment industry and certainly greater economic benefits than any alternative form of the gambling industry," Holmes said. "The racehorse breeding and training industry in Oklahoma cannot sustain a period of economic decline without complete collapse because of the significant investment capital needed to maintain the critical threshold for economic vitality."

Oklahoma racetracks are lobbying for new gaming legislation that would allow tracks to offer some forms of alternative gaming—such as slot or pull-tab machines.

"Expansion of Indian gaming activities will continue to erode the economic health of Oklahoma’s licensed racetracks and have a negative effect on the horse breeding and training industries in Oklahoma with a detrimental effect on the overall health of the Oklahoma economy, particularly that of rural Oklahoma," Holmes said.


Oklahoma horsemen say alternative gambling needed to save industry
10/2/2002 10:38:38 AM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

Oklahoma Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse horsemen, recently at odds over next year’s race dates at Remington Park, owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., have united in a request to legalize alternative gaming in the state as a way to save Oklahoma’s $2-billion horse racing industry.

The division between Thoroughbred and Quarter Horse horsemen came about on Thursday when the Oklahoma Racing Commission approved 34 Quarter Horse dates for next year at Remington. Magna officials have warned that running Quarter Horse programs at the track is a money-losing proposition, which could lead to the track’s closure.

Magna reported it lost more than $4.7-million with Remington Park last year and claims that removing the Quarter Horse programs could trim its losses by $2-million.

After the commission’s approval to keep the Quarter Horse dates at Remington, Gordon Hare, executive director of the commission, agreed that alternative gambling could be the only salvation to the industry in Oklahoma.

Oklahoma horsemen and track officials have been lobbying the state Legislature for about three years for a measure allowing Class 2 gaming, which includes pull-tabs and some bingo-related games.

"Ultimately, if the state Legislature can’t bring itself to do it and doesn’t recognize horse racing as the third most important industry in the state, we’re going to lose it; it will be toast," Hare told The Oklahoman. "A decision needs to be made next spring. The legislators and public need to decide how important horse racing is."


Oklahoma horsemen worried about track cutbacks in days
8/19/2002 1:12:27 PM  -  Thoroughbred Times 

The Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission’s decision to consider allowing Remington Park in Oklahoma City to discontinue Quarter Horse racing and Fair Meadows in Tulsa to stop Thoroughbreds racing has raised the eyebrows of horsemen who are worried that such a change would hurt the sport in Oklahoma.

The commission will not make a final decision on the proposed changes until its September 26 meeting, but it has given preliminary approval to Remington’s and Fair Meadows’s proposals.

Under the plans, which Remington Director of Media Relations Dale Day said all three Oklahoma tracks endorse, Remington would shave its racing season down to a four-month, 65-day, Thoroughbred-only meet. Previously, in addition to the four-month meet from August through December, Remington had run a 2 ½-month meet that featured some Quarter Horse racing.

Fair Meadows would pick up some of the Remington Quarter Horse slack during its two fair meets beginning April 9, but the Tulsa track would no longer offer Thoroughbred racing.

"It will be a disaster for racing in Oklahoma," Quarter Horse owner Fred Stanley told the Associated Press.

"We’re worried sick," echoed trainer Rodney Reed. "If you only have a time frame of 44 race dates, it won’t give us enough time to run them in futurities and derbies."

Management at the two Oklahoma tracks say that the restructuring is a necessary evil if they are to stay in business.

"I understand the disappointment of horsemen," Fair Meadows General Manager Ron Shotts said. "But the numbers don’t lie. Sometimes you compromise out of necessity not desire."

Remington General Manager Frank Deal said that track, which is owned by Magna Entertainment Corp., could save $2-million a year without Quarter Horse racing.


 




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