Remington Park race has some Kentucky Derby hopefuls
BY RICHARD LINIHAN Horse Racing
Saturday, December 08, 2012
12/08/12 at 5:27 AM
THERE HAVE BEEN years when Remington Park's Springboard Mile race, the event that could thrust a 2-year-old onto the Kentucky Derby trail the following year, was lucky to have one horse listed in the winter book odds for Derby contenders.
This year, the $300,000 race at the Oklahoma City track boasts five runners currently listed in the future odds for 2013 Kentucky Derby horses at The Wynn resort in Las Vegas.
Of course, at this time of year, with as many possibilities for the starting gate as Louisville has bourbon distilleries, the five horses in Sunday's marquee race of the season at Remington are all listed anywhere from 250-1 to 350-1 to win the Run for the Roses.
Those may seem like long odds, but not as much when you consider I'll Have Another, the 2012 Kentucky Derby winner, was listed at The Wynn at 200-1 odds at this time last year.
The favorite for this year's edition is Tulsa owner John C. Oxley's Exploring, trained by one of the top trainers in North America, Mark Casse. He is the No. 1 conditioner in Canada on a regular basis, having won about 1,500 races in his career and multiple training titles at Canada's top track, Woodbine.
Casse, who was a leading trainer in Kentucky in the 1980s before taking some time off from the game, sends out the lightly-raced Exploring, a 2-year-old colt by Sky Mesa. Exploring ran fourth in his debut at Saratoga in upstate New York in July, then was shipped to Canada's Woodbine racetrack where he broke his maiden at 7 furlongs under the guidance of jockey Patrick Husbands. Glenn Murphy gets the call in the irons for the Springboard Mile.
After winning at Woodbine in a time of 1 minute, 22.95 seconds for seven-eighths of a mile, Casse tried stretching him out to a mile and a 1/16th at Churchill Downs on Oct. 28. Shaun Bridgmohan was up and led him to a third-place finish under allowance conditions.
Exploring is the lukewarm 7-2 favorite in a field of 12 horses and 11 betting interests, which probably doesn't set well with Casse. It's not because he feels his horse should be at lower odds, but because he is a self-professed rooter for the underdog.
"I remember betting on Onion when he beat Secretariat," Casse told Horse Racing Radio Network in a recent interview. "Onion was trained by Allen Jerkens (KJRH-2 sports director "Big" Al Jerkens' dad) and what can I say, I always pulled for the underdog. I was only 12 years old.
"When everyone else was reading comic books, I was reading the (Daily Racing Form)."
Exploring isn't the top 2-year-old in the Casse barn, however. He also trains the flavor of the week among the Derby contenders, another Oxley horse named Uncaptured, who recently won the Kentucky Jockey Club Stakes. The last horse to complete the Jockey Club/Kentucky Derby sweep was Super Saver.
"All I want is for people when they see that this horse is trained by Mark Casse, they say that and think he is the horse they are going to have to beat," he told HRRN.
If Casse's horse is not the one to beat in this spot, it might be either Will Take Charge (odds of 350-1 for next year's Kentucky Derby), Best of Birdstone (275-1), Channel Isle (300-1) or Hardrock Eleven (250-1). And if you like Best of Birdstone, how can you not like King Henny and Backstreet Hero, who both finished ahead of him in a three-way photo for the $100,000 Clever Trevor Stakes win earlier this fall.
This is closing weekend at Remington Park, with the Springboard Mile expected to go off at approximately 5:15 p.m. Sunday, which has a special afternoon first post of 1:30.
Original Print Headline: Derby hopefuls in OKC race
Richard Linihan is marketing director for Fair Meadows in Tulsa.