OWNER-TRAINER DEAN FREY BRINGS HIS AQHA WORLD CHAMPION, DANJER, TO REMINGTON PARK FOR RETURN ENGAGEMENT
Dean Frey had been training for 30 years before he had a horse named American Quarter Horse World Champion with Danjer in 2021. Frey bred this monster of a quarter horse, trains him, and owns him in partnership with Downtime Enterprises and Billy G. Smith.
Frey once again has his star horse at Remington Park, ready for the 2022 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa meet scheduled for March 3-May 28.
“If it took me 30 years to get a World Champion, it was worth the wait,” Frey said from his newly purchased horse farm in Edmond, Okla. Previously, he ran his outfit out of California. “The only thing I have left in California are three daughters and a house, and the daughters are all grown now. When I was in California, I would leave in February and return home in December. This was definitely a good move.”
Frey said he got to Oklahoma just in time for two winter storms.
“Luckily we got the horses here just before any of it hit,” he said. “We have 21 or 22 horses here… mares, yearlings to race or sell, and racehorses. No stallions.”
Danjer, ridden by jockey Cody Smith, once again will be the star of the barn. Last year as World Champion, Danjer, a 6-year-old Oklahoma-bred gelded son of FDD Dynasty, out of the Take Off Jess mare Shez Jess Toxic, won five races and finished second in photo finishes in two other others. He is quite the versatile horse, winning stakes races at five different tracks. Danjer started the year with a runner-up finish to Jess My Hocks, trained by Michelle Hurdle, in the Grade 1 Leo Stakes at Remington Park on May 1.
“That little girl gets her horses ready,” Frey said of Hurdle. “I don’t like to make excuses, but it was Danjer’s first out since October and he only lost by a nose. He might have won at a quarter-mile.”
After that loss, Danjer won the $320,000 Debbie Schauf Remington Park Championship on May 29 here, then went to Canterbury in Minnesota and won the $52,000 Championship Challenge on July 6, the $200,000 All American Gold Cup at Ruidoso Downs in New Mexico, the $266,000 Championship Challenge at the Downs at Albuquerque and finished his campaign with a victory in the $248,000 Refrigerator Stakes at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas. Smith has ridden him to wins ever since jockey Cody Jensen retired after the 2019 season.
“A lot of jockeys wanted to ride him after that,” said Frey, “but Cody Smith was a perfect match for him. He has a good work ethic and he has always been very accommodating for us.”
And Smith gets Danjer to the winner’s circle, nine times in the 13 times he’s ridden him. His lifetime record is 26 starts, 15 wins, six seconds and three thirds for $1,503,885 earned.
“I hope he has another 10 stakes wins in him,” Frey said with a laugh. “We’ll probably run him next, back in the Leo. We won’t run him if he’s not ready, though. I care more about my horses than the wins. The Debbie Schauf is the main goal for Remington. We’d like to follow the same path as last year. Why not World Champion two years in a row?”
Only seven horses in the history of the AQHA World Champions list have ever won that title two years in a row – Shue Fly (three times, 1941-43); Woven Web (TB, three times, 1946-48); Go Man Go (three times, 1955-57); Dash for Cash (1976-77); Refrigerator (1992-93); SLM Big Daddy (1997-98), and Jessies First Down (2016-2017). There also were two other World Champions that won multiple times but not in successive years – Maddon’s Bright Eyes (1949 and 1951) and Tailor Fit (1999 and 2001).
Frey started training quarter horses as a kid with his trainer dad, Darrell, in Oregon.
“I think I was 14 years old when we moved some horses to race in California,” he said. “I remember my dad saying, ‘We finally made it to the Big Apple.’ That’s what horsemen called Los Alamitos back then. We had made it.”
Now Frey has reached another milestone, a bucket list checkmark, with Danjer winning the World Champion accolades. Ironically enough, the title was reaped despite Los Alamitos. That California’s track hosts, arguably, the biggest race for older Quarter Horses annually in the Champion of Champions. It is by invitation only, however, and Danjer was not invited last year.
“The owner of the track and I had a fallout,” said Frey. “I don’t think he really cares if he had my World Champion in his race or not. I just appreciate all the tracks where he has run and their hospitality.”
Racing at Remington Park this meet is scheduled to run a Thursday-Saturday schedule at 6 p.m. nightly and Sunday at 4 p.m. Special start times include Kentucky Derby Day (May 7) and Preakness Stakes Day (May 21) when Remington Park action begins at Noon. The Champions’ Night program on May 28 will begin at 5pm. All times are Central.
Tracked by more than 167,000 fans on Facebook and 10,600 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $285 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 begins the 2022 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa racing season on March 3. Simulcast horse racing featured daily, the casino is always open! Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.