CHAMPION OF CHAMPIONS WINNER APOLLITICAL PENCE MADE FAVORITE IN STRONG FIELD FOR DEBBIE SCHAUF REMINGTON PARK CHAMPIONSHIP
The winner of arguably the top race in the country for older horses, Apollitical Pence in the $600,000 Champion of Champions, has been made the 5-2 morning-line favorite for the Grade 1, $320,000 Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship on Saturday.
Apollitical Pence, a 5-year-old gelding at 12-1 odds, was a longshot in the Champion of Champions last winter at Los Alamitos in California, upsetting a field of the strongest older American Quarter Horses in the country. That win was the 10th of his career and launched him over the $1 million mark in earnings. The Monty Arrossa trainee’s record is 24 starts, 10 wins, four seconds and five thirds for a bankroll of $1,055,191. He is a horse that loves Remington Park, having won five-of-eight here, including the $368,000 Heritage Place Derby in 2019.
Owned by Dunn Ranch of Wynnewood, Okla., Apollitical Pence will be ridden by Francisco Calderon who ran third with him last year in this race, behind Dexxter and Mi Amor Secreto. The latter has a return engagement in this race from the inside post-position No.1 at 6-1 odds. Apollitical Pence will race from the No. 6 post. He is a gelded son of Apollitical Jess, who has thrown two All American Futurity winners – Apocalyptical Jess and Mr Jess Jenkins.
Danjer (3-1) and Valiant Tiberias (3-1) were made co-second favorites by morning line maker Jerry Shottenkirk. Danjer was most recently beaten in the Grade 1, $100,000 Leo Stakes at Remington Park by another horse in this field, Jess My Hocks (6-1). Danjer, however, was the 2020 AQHA Champion Aged Horse and Champion Aged Gelding and may have needed a race last time, coming off of a six-month layoff. Last year, to earn champion honors, he won the $252,000 Challenge Championship at the Downs at Albuquerque, in New Mexico, the $300,000 Albuquerque Fall Championship and the $63,000 Championship Challenge at Canterbury Park in Minnesota.
Danjer, a 5-year-old gelded son of FDD Dynasty, out of the Take Off Jess mare Shez Jess Toxic, went off at 6-1 odds last year in this race and ran eighth. He is trained by Dean Frey and is owned by Frey, Downtime Enterprises and Billy G. Smith of Rancho Mirage, Calif. The horse’s record is 20-10-5-3 for $872,718. Danjer will break from post-position No. 2. Jockey Cody Smith has his normal assignment on Danjer.
Valiant Tiberias, a 5-year-old gelding by Valiant Hero, out of the Feature Mr Jess mare American Feature, is a horse on a three-stakes win streak, two at Remington Park and one at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. He retains the services of three-time defending riding champion at Remington Park, James Flores. This horse has only run twice in 2021, but he won both of those starts here, taking the Bank of America Oklahoma Challenge on March 27 and then the $100,000 Sooner State Stakes on April 17. The victory that started his three stakes win streak was the $200,000 Refrigerator Stakes at Lone Star Park on Oct. 25, 2020.
Valiant Tiberias ran fourth in this race last year, three-quarters of a length behind the winner, Dexxter, who does not return to defend his title. However, Mi Amor Secreto and Apollitical Pence, who finished a nose and head in front of Valiant Tiberias, in second and third, respectively, are back.
Here’s a look at the field from the rail out with post position, jockey, trainer and odds:
1) Mi Amor Secreto, Juan Pulido, Fidencio Jimenez, 6-1
2) Danjer, Cody Smith, Dean Frey, 3-1
3) JK Wildcat Red, Cristian Esqueda, Kenny Laymon, 30-1
4) Midday News, Raul Ramirez, Jr., Michael Joiner, 20-1
5) Valiant Tiberias, James Flores, Marco Chavez-Gutierrez, 3-1
6) Apollitical Pence, Francisco Calderon, Monty Arrossa, 5-2
7) Apollitical Papa, Jose Ortiz, Fred Danley, 30-1
8) Perrys Double Down, Raul Valenzuela, John Stinebaugh, 20-1
9) Hooked On Jordan, Bryan Ernst, Ollie Matthews, 20-1
10) Jess My Hocks, Agustin Silva, Michelle Hurdle, 6-1
The Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship and the other eight stakes races for Saturday, make up the “Night of Champions.” The evening features six Grade 1 events and total purses of more than $2.7 million, making it the richest night of racing ever conducted in Oklahoma. An invitational event, the race is the 11th of 12 on Saturday, with an approximate post time of 9:40pm.
Betty Jane Burlin is the only owner that has multiple wins in this series and she holds the record at three. She won this race three years in a row (1999-2001) with Tailor Fit, trained by Steve and Janet Van Bebber. Four trainers are tied with most wins at two – Rick Robinson, Steve Van Bebber, Don Mourning and Russell Harris. Jockey G.R. Carter has the record number of wins in the race with five – The Widgeon (1989), Higher Goals (1995), Country Chicks Man (2007), Louisiana Senator (2011) and Dashin Brown Streak (2015).
Remington Park racing continues Thursday-Saturday, May 27-29, for the final weekend of the season. The first race is at 6pm on Thursday and Friday, with a special early start time of 5pm on Saturday. All times are Central.
Tracked by more than 167,000 fans on Facebook and 10,400 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $261 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 is home to the $1.3 million Heritage Place Futurity on the “Night of Champions,” Saturday, May 29, the final evening of the American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season. The casino is always open. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.