O Donovan Rossa has found a distance at which he is almost unbeatable, even when he is blocked coming into the stretch. It didn’t matter Saturday at Remington Park as he worked his way around a competitor to win the Grade 2, $55,680 Pauls Valley Stakes at 870 yards.

It was the eighth time in 12 races that the 6-year-old gelded son of Apollitical Jess, out of the Country Chicks Man mare Shanachee, had won around the hook and his second stakes win in a row at 870 yards. Jockey Roman Cruz was the perfect definition of patience aboard O Donovan Rossa as he had Im No Lawyer Butt bear out into his path in the turn for home.

“I knew the faster horses were to my outside and would be coming to me,” said Cruz, who broke from the 2-hole with the winner. “I had to wait my time. The turn was scary a little bit. I only saw one spot and I had to go for it.”

He steered O Donovan Rossa away from the blocker coming into him and once he avoided that horse, it was clear sailing and he found another gear, drawing away to win by 2-3/4 lengths like a true distance champion. In his previous race, the $30,000 Remington Park Distance Challenge on April 7, he was dominant also, winning by 1-1/2 lengths.

“I had a lot of horse left,” Cruz said. “I was just waiting for a small spot. He didn’t care (about being blocked). Little hole, big hole, it didn’t matter to him. He knew he got it.”

Trainer Dee Keener said once O Donovan Rossa learned to run around the hook, there was no doubt where this horse would be entered.

“He has really excelled at this distance and yes, you can expect him on closing night (Saturday, June 1 in the Grade 1 Remington Park Distance Championship),” Keener said. “He ran a great race today despite the troubled trip.”

O Donovan Rossa earned $34,692 for owner Kelly Yother Equine of Culver City, Calif., and improved lifetime to 36 starts, 12 wins, seven seconds and three thirds for $324,145 in earnings. His 870-yard record moved to 12 starts, eight wins, three seconds and a bankroll of $217,147. O Donovan Rossa was bred in Oklahoma by J. Garvan Kelly.

As the 6-5 post-time favorite, he paid $4.60 to win, $3.20 to place and $2.80 to show. Daycruiser (longest shot on the board at 24-1) checked in second, a head in front of third-place finisher Volcoms Favorite (7-1). The rest of the order of finish was Katch This Eagle (9-1) fourth, Dak (9-2) fifth, Im No Lawyer Butt (5-2) sixth and Bakers Big Ol Boy (8-1) seventh.

Running time for O Donovan Rossa was :45.015 for a speed index of 101 over the fast track. It was the second year in a row that this horse had won the Pauls Valley Stakes for Keener and Kelly Yother Equine. Jockey Roman Crus won the race for the first time with his ride Saturday.

Remington Park has provided more than $347 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 presents simulcast racing daily and non-stop casino gaming. The Remington Park 2024 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season continues through June 1 with the biggest racing program of the season. The Champions Night boasts total purses in excess of $2,000,000, led by the $1,000,000 Heritage Place Futurity. Parking and admission are always free. Must be 18 or older to wager on horse racing or enter the casino gaming floor. Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.