World Champion Danjer took a delay at the gate in stride and showed his true colors once he broke, finishing a full length ahead of a powerful field to win the Grade 1, $111,000 Leo Stakes for the first time.

It hasn’t been an easy road for the 2021 World Champion in the Leo Stakes. He pulled back on his flipping halter at the gate in the 2022 edition of the race and got left at the gate, breaking 11th in a field of 11. He did make up some ground to finish eighth as the 2-1 second favorite, but it was a disappointment after being named the top Quarter Horse in the country the year before.

This year would be different with a big win.

“Yeah, we got that monkey off our back,” said trainer-owner-breeder Dean Frey.

On Saturday, after the field was backed out of the gates due to some problems with the two-time defending Leo Stakes champion, Jess My Hocks, in gate No. 2, Danjer was showing obvious distress as he came backwards out of his gate, No. 6. Then after all the horses were returned to the gate, the 7-year-old gelded son of FDD Dynasty, out of the Take Off Jess mare Shez Jess Toxic, was headed by a couple of horses on the break, but soon took over and finished a full length in front. Jess My Hocks wound up running last in this race at 21-1 odds.

Running time for the 400 yards was :19.512 for a speed index of 98. Nothin Like You, a horse that was a $2,000 supplemental entry to the Leo, ran second at 16-1 odds and Head Patron (5-1 second favorite) checked in third, a nose behind the runner-up.

Frey owns Danjer with partners Downtime Enterprises (Patrick Guthrie) and Billy G. Smith of Rancho Mirage, Calif. Their champion was the heavy 3-5 post-time favorite and paid $3.40 to win, $2.80 to place and $2.20 to show. Jockey Francisco Calderon rode this champion for the first time and did a fantastic job.

“He was a little bothered by the delay, but he’s just all class and was all about his business,” Calderon said. “There’s really not much more I can say about him.”

“He’s just a true professional,” Frey said of the winner.

James Flores and Cody Smith were previous riders that had major success with Danjer.

Danjer earned $66,330 for winning the Leo and improved his record to 34 starts, 21 wins, seven seconds and three thirds and increasing his already gaudy lifetime bankroll to $2,335,398.

Danjer was bred in Oklahoma by Frey.

It was the gelding’s sixth win in his last seven races. The only race he lost was to the 2022 World Champion Empressum in the $750,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos in California last Dec. 10.

Remington Park racing continues Sunday with the first race at 4pm-Central.

Tracked by more than 175,000 fans on Facebook and 10,700 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $320 Million to the State of Oklahoma general education fund since the opening of the casino in 2005. Located at the junction of Interstates 35 & 44, in the heart of the Oklahoma City Adventure District, Remington Park features the 2023 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa season through June 3. Remington Park presents simulcast racing daily and non-stop casino gaming. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.