Golden Yank made a big move to get the lead at the quarter pole, then held favored Tiz Now Tiz Then safe through the homestretch to win the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park Oct. 19, ending an eight-race losing streak.
Ridden by Jamie Theriot, Golden Yank earned his first graded stakes victory for trainer Gary Thomas by 1 3/4 lengths. The Yankee Gentleman gelding has four lifetime wins in 12 starts, but three have come at Oklahoma City's Remington Park, where he is undefeated.
Both Tiz Now and Tiz Then and Golden Yank, the 3-1 second choice, raced from the back of the pack in the 1 1/8-mile main track event as early pacesetter Snug and Acting Zippy set off on a fast clip. Fractions were :22.99, :46.61 and 1:10.91 as Acting Zippy took control. Golden Yank made ground off the rail as they rounded their way around the turn, where he angled four paths wide to challenge for the lead.
Tiz Now Tiz Then, ridden by Miguel Mena, worked his way into contention on the outside as well as they straightened for home. But he could make little impact in the lane on Golden Yank, who led by two lengths at the eighth pole and held sway under steady encouragement from Theriot. The final time was 1:50.47.
It was 2 3/4 lengths back to third-place Acting Zippy, ridden by Jonathan Shepherd.
Golden Yank, a homebred owned by the Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust, won the MEC Mile for 2-year-olds on last year's Oklahoma Derby program by 4 3/4 lengths. He followed that win with a 5 3/4-length triumph in the Jean Lafitte Stakes at Delta Downs Nov. 9. But he had been winless since, and often unfortunately so, finishing in the money four times during the eight-race skid. The bay was coming off a fourth-place finish in the Super Derby (gr. II) at Louisiana Downs, where he finished nearly nine lengths behind the victorious My Pal Charlie.
“I did expect a big race," said Theriot, who also won the Remington Green Stakes on Steve's Double." I rode him for the first time at Louisiana Downs in the Super Derby. That race was a different race from today, it didn’t have much pace in it like there was today. The track is a little different surface wise, Louisiana Downs is a little cuppier. I think the horse struggled over the surface there, he gave me a kick but not like he did today.
“He got over the (Remington) surface really well. He had the solid quarter of a mile run today. I told the owner and trainer in the paddock that if he was going to win any Derby it was going to be today. This race just set up for his running style.”
The $210,000 winner's share boosted Golden Yank's career earnings to $493,516.
Golden Yank, who is out of the Strike the Gold mare Golden Charm, paid $8.40, $3.80 and $3.20.
Iowa Derby winner Tiz Now Tiz Then, who had a three-race winning streak earlier this year for trainer Eoin Harty but has lost three in a row since, returned $3.20 and $2.40.
Acting Zippy, jumping into the Oklahoma Derby off an optional claiming allowance win over the Remington track Sept. 20, was $6.60 to show.
Real Appeal finished fourth, followed by Atlantic Paws, Crimson Comic, Quiet Again, Fire Brewed, Face the Cat, Sebastian County, Ablaze With Spirit and Snug.