GREELEY AND BEN NAMED REMINGTON PARK CHAMPION HORSE OF THE MEET, ENDING WELDER’S STREAK OF THREE IN ROW
Greeley and Ben has been named Remington Park’s Champion Horse of the Meeting for the 2021 fall thoroughbred meeting, ending a three-year reign for the all-time winningest horse here, Welder.
Greeley and Ben, owned by End Zone Athletics of Mansfield, Texas, and trained by Karl Broberg, not only was Champion Horse of the Meet, but has to be considered for claim of the year in the country. Broberg picked him up for a mere $10,000 at Oaklawn Park in a waiver claiming race on March 7 this year and all he did was win 10-of-12 after that for Broberg and his conglomerate of End Zone Athletics. Greeley and Ben has earned $296,277 with 11 wins from 15 starts in 2021.
The 7-year-old gelded son of Greeley’s Conquest, out of the Langfuhr mare Traci’s Wild, extended his winning streak to nine in a row, taking the $150,000 David M. Vance Stakes at Remington Park on Sept. 26, a race in which Welder ran fifth. It was arguably the toughest David Vance Stakes in history at Remington Park as multiple stakes winner Mr. Money Bags ran second, beaten 2-1/2 lengths. The third-place finisher, Long Range Toddy, had won the $400,000 Springboard Mile in 2018 and followed that up with a victory in the Grade 2, $750,000 Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., in 2019, beating a Kentucky Derby favorite, Improbable, in the process. Long Range Toddy then ran in the Kentucky Derby and was interfered with by the disqualified winner Maximum Security in the turn for home.
The 2021 Vance Stakes also included Share the Upside, who beat Breeders’ Cup Sprint winner Whitmore, at Oaklawn two years ago in a stakes there, and, of course, Welder, who finished his career with 16 wins over this racing surface. Welder, owned by Ra-Max Farms (Clayton Rash) of Claremore, Okla., and trained by Teri Luneack, is the only horse to ever win Horse of the Meeting more than once.
The Vance Stakes was the first black-type win for Greeley and Ben. He won his championship at Remington winning both of his starts this season. Nationally acclaimed jockey Joe Talamo came in to ride this champion sprinter in the Vance and Remington’s leading rider for the fourth year in a row, David Cabrera, was aboard in an open allowance win here on Sept. 4. The allowance was won by a full length over Empire of Gold, the fourth-place finisher in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint, behind Whitmore in 2020.
“When did I know I had a stakes horse on my hands during the streak?” Broberg said on the night of the Vance Stakes. “Tonight, when he hit the finish line. I have worked very hard to keep this horse out of spots like this.”
Talamo was thrilled to get the call to ride Greeley and Ben for the first time in the horse’s 26 starts and made a little joke in the winner’s circle after the huge victory.
“I’ll give you $10,000 for the horse right now,” Talamo said to Broberg. “Maybe more!”
Greeley and Ben earned nine times the price Broberg paid for him in the initial claim – $90,000 for the victory in the Vance.
“I just thought he was a horse that looked like he was worth $10,000,” Broberg said. “If I said there was anything genius to it, I’d be making up a story. I’ll still be looking for a $10,000 starter allowance for him.”
The winner covered the six furlongs in 1:09.79 on the fast track and lit the track on fire in his allowance win, going 1:08.88.
Greeley and Ben was also voted the season’s Champion Sprinter and Champion Older Male. He was bred in Kentucky by the Millard R. Seldin Revocable Trust.
The Remington Park seasonal divisional champions are selected by ballots submitted by media covering the season and track racing-affiliated personnel.
Here’s a look at the Parade of Stars, the champions from Remington Park in 2021:
Make It Big – Champion 2-Year-Old Male
Make It Big earned 10 points in the 2022 Kentucky Derby standings by winning the $401,200 Springboard Mile for 2-year-olds at Remington Park on Dec. 17, the final night of the season. It was his only start at Remington, but it was his third win in a row to start his career and he could end up in the Kentucky Derby field next year.
Rick Sacco, racing manager for Make it Big’s owner, Red Oak Stable in Ocala, Fla., was non-committal on where Make It Big’s first start as a 3-year-old will be in 2022. His first two wins came at Gulfstream Park in Hallandale, Fla., home of the Florida Derby. The $120,000 purchase at the Ocala Breeders Spring Sale of 2-year-olds in training has quickly earned his keep. He won $240,000 from the Springboard purse and is a perfect three-for-three, earning $303,828 to start his young career.
Make It Big is trained by Saffie Joseph, Jr., and was ridden to victory by the nation’s No. 4 jockey Jose Ortiz. A Florida-bred, Make It Big is by Neolithic from the Congrats mare Ruby On My Mind.
Optionality – Champion 2-Year-Old Female
Optionality won her third race in a row, all by more than six lengths, when she took down the $101,100 Trapeze Stakes, the top race for 2-year-old fillies at Remington Park.
A daughter of the most prolific freshman sire, Gun Runner, from the Pulpit mare Simplify, Optionality drew off to an impressive 8-1/4 lengths victory in the Trapeze with Ortiz up. It was her only race of the meet, but she was so dominant, this championship could go to no one else. She broke her maiden at Indiana Grand on Oct. 26, a victor by 6-3/4 lengths. Her subsequent start was on Oct. 26 at Zia Park in New Mexico and she won the $50,000 Zia Princess Stakes by daylight 6-1/2 lengths.
She is trained by the country’s all-time winningest trainer Steve Asmussen. It took Optionality four tries to win for the first time, but she hasn’t lost since. Her record improved to six starts, three wins, one second and two thirds for $124,000 earned.
Warrant – Champion 3-Year-Old Male
The leading trainer in the country, Brad Cox, won his third Oklahoma Derby in a row at Remington Park with Warrant, tying Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Famer Donnie Von Hemel for the most derby wins here. Cox is the first trainer to win three consecutive Oklahoma Derbies.
Cox’s win in this year’s edition of the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby followed victories in 2020 with Shared Sense and in 2019 with Owendale. The nation’s leading jockey and front-runner for the Eclipse Award this year, Joel Rosario, was the winner aboard Warrant.
Warrant, a 3-year-old son of Constitution, out of the First Samurai mare Whisper Number, prevailed by 1-3/4 lengths, beating Flash of Mischief, winner of the St. Louis Derby at Fairmount Park in southern Illinois. The 2-1 betting favorite, Super Stock, who had won the Arkansas Derby in April at Oaklawn in Hot Springs, Ark., finished third.
Warrant is owned and was bred in Kentucky by Twin Creeks Racing Stables of Versailles, Ky.
Lady Mystify – Champion 3-Year-Old Female
Lady Mystify had lost her previous race by 17 lengths at Del Mar in late August, but she bounced back like a pro to win the Grade 3, $200,000 Remington Park Oaks on Sept. 26.
Despite the big loss earlier, trainer Peter Eurton meant business with Lady Mystify. She was the only horse he shipped in for a nationally talent-laden day of racing on Oklahoma Derby Day. The top two trainers in the country, Brad Cox and Steve Asmussen, had shipped in several horses for the day filled with stakes. It was simply Lady Mystify, or bust, for Eurton.
Jockey Flavien Prat flew in from the West Coast with only one mount on the card – Lady Mystify.
Lady Mystify had won two of her first four attempts prior to the big loss at Del Mar, including a maiden special weight race at Santa Anita Park by 18 lengths. This daughter of Bernardini, out of the Unbridled’s Song mare J. Quirk, earned $120,000 for owners ExLine-Border Racing, SAF Racing and Richard Hausman of Pasa Robles, Calif., in her only start at Remington. She improved her record to six starts, three wins, one second and one third for $217,520 in her bankroll. It was the first stakes victory of her young career.
Casula – Champion Older Female
Casual was virtually in another county when she hit the finish line 5-1/4 lengths in front of the rest of the field in the $100,600 She’s All In on the final night of the season, Dec. 17. The effort was enough to earn her a divisional title from her two Remington Park attempts this season, as she was second in the Flashy Lady Stakes during the undercard on Oklahoma Derby Day, Sept. 26.
Jose Ortiz booted home this 4-year-old daughter of Curlin, out of the Mutakddim mare Lady Tak. Steve Asmussen, who trained multiple Horse of the Year Curlin, also conditions Casual.
Casual had run fourth in the She’s All In last year and had never won a stakes race until she took down this year’s edition. Casual earned $60,000 for the score and improved her lifetime record to 15 starts, four wins, four seconds and three thirds for $346,225 in her bankroll.
Casual is owned by Hill ‘n’ Dale Equine Holdings, Stretch Run Ventures and Windsor Boys Racing and was bred in Kentucky by the first two owners.
Run Slewpy Run – Champion Turf Performer
This daughter of Den’s Legacy, out of the Evansville Slew mare Imadancingslew, was unbeaten in three races over the turf course here, winning an entry-allowance race and the $70,000 Bob Barry Memorial Stakes, both at 7-1/2 furlongs. She then showed her versatility by stretching out to 1-1/16th miles greensward to win the $130,000 Oklahoma Classics Distaff Turf, beating the defending champion and her stablemate for trainer Jesse Oberlander, Alternative Slew. Run Slewpy Run won both stakes by three lengths. All of her starts this season came against Oklahoma-breds.
Run Slewpy Run started six times with three wins and three seconds. She is owned and bred in Oklahoma by Mike Jones of Bristow, Okla. All of her wins came with veteran rider and Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Famer Luis Quinonez in the irons.
Rowdy Rascal – Champion Oklahoma-bred
Rowdy Rascal won three straight starts, against Oklahoma-breds, before testing tough open-company waters and running fifth in the Springboard Mile on Dec. 17. Prior to the Springboard attempt, the 2-year-old owned JT Stables of Springdale, Ark. broke his maiden on Sept. 18, then won the $100,000 Oklahoma Classics Juvenile on Oct. 15 before scoring again in the $75,000 Don McNeill Stakes on Nov. 12.
Rowdy Rascal is trained by Boyd Caster and was ridden in all of his Remington Park races by Freddy Manrrique. The gelding is by Den’s Legacy from the Affirmatif mare Dancing Diva and was bred by Harmony Stable.
Rowdy Rascal finished his 2-year-old season at Remington Park with five starts, three wins and one second in Oklahoma City.
Absaroka – Champion Claimer
Trainer C.R. Trout won the $175,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup, powered by TVG, with Absaroka on Oct. 15. It was Absaroka’s third win in a row at Remington Park as he broke like a rocket with his early speed on the rail under jockey David Cabrera, who won his fourth riding title this year at Remington Park.
The gelding’s initial win of his three straight came at the $30,000 claiming level, in open company, when he won by 3-1/2 lengths under Richard Eramia at 1 mile and 70 yards on Sept. 8. Absaroka finished the Remington Park season with five starts, three wins, one second and a third-place effort in the $100,000 Jeffrey Hawk Memorial.
Absaroka, a 5-year-old gelding by Flat Out, from the Brahms mare Wanton Song, was bred by owner Cowboy Stables of Clinton, Okla. Absaroka earned $105,000 with his trip to the winner’s circle in the Classics Cup.
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