Kinsman Stable's Military Major rallied past rivals in the stretch to win the $150,000 Oklahoma Derby on Friday night at Remington Park.
George Steinbrenner, the owner of the New York Yankees, also owns Kinsman Stable. Military Major is trained by Michael Caraman and was ridden by Jeffery Burningham, who enjoyed the biggest wins of their careers. This was the trio's first win at Remington Park, and it came in the state's premier race.
Military Major won by three-quarters of a length over the late-rallying Real Dandy with Golden Rainbow another half-length back in third. A Kentucky-bred 3-year-old chestnut gelding by Rahy
from the Woodman mare Ms. Teak Wood, Military Major covered the 1 1/8 miles over a fast track in 1:49.49.
Breaking eighth in the 10-horse field, Military Major had to settle in mid-pack moving through the clubhouse turn and on the backstretch as Lumbre, breaking alertly from the outside post, settled into a steady pace.
"He had fallen back early and I was worried that he'd have too much work to do," Caraman said of his charge's first half-mile of racing.
As the field moved to the half-mile pole, it was time for horse and rider to make a decision as to what path to take to victory.
"He (Military Major) didn't really understand if he wanted to go to the inside or the outside on the final turn," Caraman noted. "He was five or six wide throughout most of the turn."
Burningham chose the wide trip, hoping to stay clear of the others in the race.
"I opted to go outside because I didn't know what the horses on the rail were going to do and I didn't want to get into a situation.
"We were gobbling up ground but the ones at the front weren't stopping. For a moment I thought we were going to settle for third when the others kept going."
At the top of the stretch, Military Major had plenty of momentum despite covering some extra ground. Lumbre, who continued to lead into the stretch, tired in the final furlong and finished fourth.
"Once he switched to the right lead in the stretch I knew he was home," Caraman said.
"We came home strong," Burningham said, echoing his trainer on his horse's finish. "Even galloping out he was strong. Mike said he was bred to run all day and I agree with him."
Military Major left the starting gate at 7-1 odds and paid $16.20 to win, $4.20 to place and $2.80 to show. Real Dandy, the even-money favorite, paid $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show. Golden Rainbow paid $2.40 to show.
Real Dandy was coupled in the wagering as an entry with his stablemate Jazzy Gallop.
The win was the second from seven career starts for Military Major and his first stakes score. The first-place check of $90,000 pushes his overall earnings to $150,400. For the horse's connections, the Oklahoma Derby was also big.
"This was the biggest win of my career," Burningham said.
"It was my second stakes win," Caraman said. "I won the $50,000 John Franks Memorial at Louisiana Downs last year. This one's bigger."