GREAT FACES FIRST WORKER AS REMINGTON PARK OPENS FOR 2021 FALL SEASON
The more things change, the more they stay the same. For the second year in a row, trainer Donnie Von Hemel was the first on the Remington Park track Thursday for an official workout, preparing for the fall thoroughbred meet.
When the track opened at 6 a.m., the 4-year-old chestnut gelding Great Faces stepped onto the track and breezed 5 furlongs in 1:05.50 seconds. He was one of six horses to take advantage of the work session, about a month away from first race at Remington Park. The fall season begins Friday, Aug. 20, with the first stakes race of 34 being the $175,000 Governor’s Cup for 3-year-olds-and-older going 1-1/8th miles. The meet ends on Sunday, Dec. 19.
After being the first horse of the meet on the track last year for a workout, Great Faces, a son of Tapiture, out of the Successful Appeal mare Successful Show, ran third in his first try of the meet on Sept. 10, 2020 with jockey Luis Quinonez aboard. The gelding broke his maiden in his third try of the fall last year on Nov. 1.
Great Faces has now started 12 times in his career for the South Dakota partnership of owners Jack Schuyler and Kevin Keiser, winning twice, finishing second four times and third once for $93,994 in earnings.
Von Hemel is an Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Famer, inducted in 2011, with 12,033 starts lifetime, according to Equibase stats, has 2,233 career wins and his starters have earned $61,520,351. He began training in 1984. Von Hemel, in his 37th year of training, has sent out 85 starters this year, winning three, running second 11 times and third another seven times for earnings of $242,048. Some of Von Hemel’s top horses all-time include Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse and winner of the first Oklahoma Derby (then called the Remington Park Derby), Oklahoma-bred millionaire Clever Trevor in 1989.
Quinonez, inducted into the Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2017, has had 26,788 mounts in his 32-year career, winning 3,898 times and his horses have earned $76,763,511. This year, he has had 263 starts, 27 firsts, 36 seconds, 49 thirds and his mounts have raked in $1,322,483. Quinonez, a multiple graded stakes-winning rider, was a top 10 jock here last year and is in Remington Park’s top 10 all-time. Some of his best mounts all-time include Suddenbreakingnews, his only Kentucky Derby mount, after winning the 2016 Southwest Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark., and Oklahoma-bred millionaire Shotgun Kowboy.
Remington Park’s fall schedule of thoroughbred stakes races this year totals about $4 million in purses, punctuated by the Grade 3 $400,000 Oklahoma Derby on Sunday, Sept. 26, and the $400,000 Springboard Mile on Sunday, Dec. 19, Closing Day of the meet, the richest 2-year-old race in the country in the winter.
It is also likely that fans will get to see three-time Champion Horse of the Meet this meet, Welder, a millionaire Oklahoma-bred who will be trying to become the all-time winningest thoroughbred in the track’s history. Welder, an 8-year-old gray gelding, owned by Ra-Max Farms (Clayton and Toni Rash of Claremore, Okla.) and trained by Teri Luneack, is one of three horses since the track opened in 1988 to have won as many as 15 races here. He is tied with Highland Ice and Elegant Exxactsy, who also did it. Welder tied them on his last win here Dec. 19, 2020.
Tracked by more than 167,000 fans on Facebook and 10,400 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $266 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 live and simulcast horse racing, and the casino is always open. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.