By Jerry Shottenkirk
A daily purse structure of more than $200,000 and a 35-race stakes program worth $3.5 million have horsemen arriving from all over the country to Oklahoma City for the Remington Park fall Thoroughbred season that begins Aug. 15.
The meet will stretch 67 dates through Dec. 14 with the Sept. 28 Oklahoma Derby (gr. III) the headliner.
The usual powerhouse stables such as those run by trainers Steve Asmussen, Donnie Von Hemel, and Bret Calhoun will be joined by Robertino Diodoro, who has been a fixture in Canada, Arizona, and Southern California. Diodoro won the 2013 Oklahoma Derby with Broadway Empire.
Other strong stables on hand are those of Roger Engel, J.R. Caldwell, Chris Hartman, Randy Morse, and Federico Villafranco. Karl Broberg is back after a short absence from local racing, while Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg, who had horses at Remington for its inaugural season in 1988 and had some success recently at Lone Star Park, has moved his stable 200 miles up Interstate 35.
Asmussen in 2013 won his seventh consecutive local title. Von Hemel is the track's all-time leader; he has 946 wins with Asmussen a distant second with 633.
The $400,000 Oklahoma Derby is the meet's lone graded stakes. It will top a program including the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks, $150,000 Remington Park Sprint Cup, $100,000 Remington Green Stakes, $75,000 Kip Deville Stakes, $50,000 Flashy Lady Stakes, and $50,000 Ladies on the Lawn Stakes.
Oct. 17 is another important date on the local calendar as Oklahoma-breds will be front and center for Oklahoma Classics Night. The card will include eight stakes worth a total of $940,000.
All-time local leading jockey Cliff Berry is back and is only one win away from 2,000 at Remington. Luis Quinonez brings his tack to Oklahoma City again and has won 1,161 races here. Ramon Vazquez is the defending champion jockey.
Danny Caldwell, who won 29 races at Remington in 2013, seeks his fifth consecutive owner title. Caldwell horses, trained by Villafranco, have been strong all year at Oaklawn Park and Prairie Meadows Racetrack & Casino.
Remington generally will race Wednesdays through Saturdays with first post time of 7 p.m. Central time. First post on Oklahoma Derby day is set for 1:30 p.m.