Horse Racing: Will Rogers Downs to open Monday
BY RICHARD LINIHAN Horse Racing
Saturday, March 02, 2013
3/02/13 at 6:20 AM
IT WILL BE a different sound coming at the spectators when Will Rogers Downs opens its spring thoroughbred 32-day race meet Monday.
No longer will the voice of Jesse Ullery be blaring from the loudspeakers as the horses come spinning out of the turn down the homestretch.
Ullery has taken the position vacated by the departure of Kelly Cathey as racing secretary at Will Rogers Downs, leaving the announcer's booth open for John Lies, the voice of Lone Star Park near Dallas since 2005. Prior to that, Lies was a publicist for Santa Anita and Hollywood Park, major tracks in California. Lies worked as a backup announcer for the late Luke Kruytbosch at Ellis Park and for Vic Stauffer at Hollywood Park while doing publicity work for the West Coast tracks.
Will Rogers Downs opens with a Monday-Tuesday first week and then moves to a Monday through Wednesday schedule until May. When May hits, the Claremore track will go to a Saturday, Monday, Tuesday race schedule.
The stakes events are eight races worth $420,000, with each race worth $50,000 or $55,000.
There are 10 races scheduled for opening day Monday.
Trainer Roger Engel returns to defend his championship, and jockey Curtis Kimes will be trying for his sixth riding title in a row at WRD. He will get a challenge from one strong newcomer in Bryan McNeil from the Oklahoma City area.
Will Rogers Downs is located about 25 minutes east of Tulsa on Highway 20.
Vian native to be honored: Multiple Hall of Fame jockey Bobby Ussery, a native of Vian, will be honored by friends and horsemen during a dinner in Florida on Tuesday. Ussery, 77, is a member of the National Horse Racing Hall of Fame, the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame and is one of only a handful of jockeys to win back-to-back Kentucky Derbies. He will be toasted for his riding career.
He won the Kentucky Derby in 1967 aboard Proud Clarion and then in 1968 in the irons of Dancer's Image. Technically he only won the 1967 Derby because Dancer's Image was disqualified after a bad test from the race, but Ussery still has the Derby trophy given to the jockey for the 1968 ride.
"It's mine," he told the Tulsa World in a 2010 story. "Eddie (Delahoussaye, a Hall of Famer who also won two Derbies in a row) told me, 'As far as I'm concerned, you're the fifth to do it.'"
In a racing career that spanned from 1951 through 1974, Ussery won 3,611 races, including 42 major wins. In Triple Crown events, he won the two Derbies and the Preakness aboard Bally Ache.
Remington meet in March: In Oklahoma City, Remington Park opens its annual quarter horse race meet March 8. The crowning event is the $1 million-plus Heritage Place Futurity.
Original Print Headline: Track opening Monday