MEET FULL OF FIRSTS AT REMINGTON PARK CONTINUES AS CLAIM BOX SETS RECORDS, 18-YO JOCKEY, RANDY VEGA, WINS FOR FIRST TIME
It has been a season of firsts at Remington Park and that continued Friday, as an 18-year-old jockey won for the first time in his career and the claims box money surpassed $2 million for the first time in an American Quarter Horse meet here.
Jockey Randy Vega, 18, of Tulsa, Okla., won the second race of the night in the 23rd start of his career, booting home Strawberry Mangarita for the victory in a 400-yard maiden claiming race for a $7,500 tag. His fellow riders, a couple old enough to be his grandfather, made sure it would be a memorable night for the young jockey who went to Union High School in his hometown.
“Yeah, I have a fresh cut,” Vega said of his return to the jockeys’ quarters. “They shaved the back of my head.”
It is traditional for jockeys to welcome first-time winners with such things as shaving cream and eggs when they return to the room. Vega got to the wire aboard the 3-year-old gray gelding, Strawberry Mangarita, three-quarters of a length ahead of the 6-5 wagering favorite Game Gone West. He hit the wire in :20.684 over the fast track, good for a 65 speed index.
“It felt good,” said Vega, who is no relation to Jose Vega, another rider at Remington Park. “It was about time I won one.”
Randy Vega began his riding career last year, getting aboard horses nine times last fall at the Will Rogers Downs meet in Claremore, Okla. His best finish in his first year was a couple of fourth-place runners, Prized Radio Flyer on Nov. 6, 2020 and La Plumita on Halloween. His riding career had only begun the day before on Oct. 30 when he finished sixth in his first ever race. He had started aboard horses 14 times before winning at Remington Park this spring. Prior to that, Vega had run second twice, once aboard this same horse, Strawberry Mangarita, on April 29, and also on Laynis Catching Zees on April 23.
Every racing season, horsemen claim (buy) horses out of claiming races when a horse is entered for a tag. Claiming prices for the Quarter Horse meet range from $5,000 to $50,000 in optional races. During this meet, with five racing days remaining, horsemen have dished out $2,062,500 to buy horses out of races. It is the first time the total has vaulted $2 million for this meet. That total was accumulated with 195 claims.
In comparison to past years, the highest number of claims for Quarter Horses was $1.25 million in 2020. That was a record then. If you go back to 2017, the horsemen didn’t even reach $1 million that year with $950,000 in claims.
The Thoroughbred horsemen have had more claims in numbers and in dollars. The high Thoroughbred numbers were 236 claims in 2018 for $2,395,000 in total amount, both records. The Thoroughbred horsemen have gone past $2.3 million in claims three times, in 2018, 2017 ($2,377,000) and 2014 ($2,388,750).
There were eight claims Friday night by the Quarter Horse connections for a total of $115,000 paid for those horses to come to new barns. One of those claimed was Vega’s winner Strawberry Mangarita. It is now up to new owner Javier Alvarez and new trainer Harvey Baeza as to whether Vega retains that mount next time the horse races.
Remington Park racing continues on Saturday and Sunday, May 22 & 23. Stakes action is set for Saturday night with two divisions of the FL Lady Bug Stakes, the Jack Brooks Stakes and the Boyd Morris Memorial. The first race nightly is 6pm-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.