The richest Thoroughbred meet in track history begins Aug. 21 at Remington Park Racing and Casino, with daily purses averaging $250,000 at the Oklahoma City track.
A total of 90 horses were entered for the nine-race opening night program, establishing a pre-scratch field-size average of 10 runners per event.
Highlighting the Remington meet will be the return of jockey Dale Cordova, who will step away from a retirement that lasted more than 10 years. His first mount in this millennium is aboard Costa de Oro for trainer Randy Morse.
Well-known as the jockey for Silver Goblin during that millionaire’s career, Cordova was a prominent rider through the early years at Remington Park. Declining times in Oklahoma racing led Cordova away from his Jones, Okla. home for most of the calendar year. The sacrifice of being away from his family, which included two young children, became too much to bear so Cordova made a life-changing decision.
“Staying away from home began to take too much of a toll on me and my family,” Cordova recalled. “I finally realized that my priorities needed to change and my family needed to be first. I needed to see them and they needed to see me. It was worth the 10 years. I was around my kids, watching them grow, getting to take them to their practices and events. I was able to be part of their lives and I wouldn’t trade that.”
To help stick to his retirement decision, Cordova and his wife Lisa, stayed away from the racetrack all together. Early this year, the couple decided to take a vacation in Hot Springs, Ark., home of Oaklawn Park. While there, they went to the races and visited a lot of old acquaintances. Upon returning, Cordova decided to change his life once again.
“I needed to lose some weight, so I started to eat healthier and began working out,” he said. “Surprisingly, the weight began to just drop off of me and after about 15 pounds, I thought that I could continue, trying to get closer to a riding weight. When the pounds kept peeling off and I wasn’t struggling to drop them, riding again became a realistic thought.”
The new regimen and time away from the sport he had grown up with has refreshed Cordova.
“I’m 45 now and I feel like I’m 20,” Cordova said. “I didn’t feel this good when I decided to retire. I’m stronger than I was then and I feel great both mentally and physically. My attitude is fresh. It’s unbelievable.”