POPULAR KID MAKING OWNER GEORGE SHARP LOOK GENIUS WITH SURPRISING $20,000 CLAIM; WINNING $100,000 JEFFREY HAWK MEMORIAL
Popular Kid was racing at Santa Anita as a 7-year-old at the beginning of the year when his new owner George A. Sharp of Phoenix, Ariz., claimed him for $20,000.
The gelded son of Popular, out of the Lemon Drop Kid mare Lemon Supreme, has since won 4-of-10 starts, including the $102,000 Jeffrey Hawk Memorial Stakes on Friday night at Remington Park. It’s rare that a 7-year-old with no promise for breeding and no more conditions to run through in his races is bought out of a claiming race for $20,000.
“Everyone thought I was nuts,” Sharp said. “I sent him straight out to the cowboy (trainer Shawn Davis). Now he’s all pro. He just wins races and is going to win more. Jose (Alvarez, jockey) couldn’t have ridden him any better.”
Popular Kid earned $60,000 from the purse and improved his record to 62 starts, 15 wins, nine seconds and five thirds for $598,774. It kept the winner undefeated in three tries over the main track at Remington Park this season, with the other two victories coming in allowance company. His only loss here was on the grass in the $100,000 Remington Green Stakes.
It took Popular Kid five races before he won for Sharp after the Jan. 2 claim on the West Coast. He finally made it to the winner’s circle on a muddy track at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas, on June 7 against optional claiming $35,000 horses. Two races later, he found that Remington Park was turning into the land of milk and honey for him. Alvarez has been aboard for his wins on Sept. 11, Oct. 27 and tonight, the horse’s first stakes win in Oklahoma City.
Popular Kid was sent off at 3-1 odds, the second favorite in the race, and paid $8.80, $4.60 and $3.60 across the board to win, place and show. The oddest race of all came from runner-up Catdaddy, the longest shot in the six-horse field at 26-1. He broke like a rocket from the gate, ding-donging on the front end with Absaroka, who was stepping into open company after winning the $175,000 Oklahoma Classics Cup against Oklahoma-breds in October. Catdaddy soon backed out of the 1 mile-70 yards race after dueling early, dropping back to fourth. As they came into the stretch, however, Catdaddy found new life and began passing horses that had already passed him. When all was said and done, he had regained second-place, losing by only a length to Popular Kid.
According to Brisnet statistics, it was Popular Kid’s eighth win in 16 starts at or near the distance. He covered the distance in 1:43.35 over a fast track. Alvarez was never farther back than third in the early going and then gradually moved past the front-runners, who set early fractions of :24.75 for the quarter-mile, 48.58 for the half-mile and 1:13.19 for six furlongs. Popular Kid was in front after a mile in 1:39.04.
Trainer Davis couldn’t have been happier with his horse, bred in California by Rod and Lorraine Rodriguez. “We hoped he would run that way,” said Davis. “He’s 7 years old and just getting better.”
Absaroka (9-2) held on for third, three-quarters of a length behind Catdaddy, and 1-3/4 lengths ahead of fourth-place finisher Trident Hit, the beaten wagering favorite at 3-5 odds. The remaining order of finish was Favorable Outcome (5-1) and Drifting West (12-1).
The Jeffrey Hawk Memorial is named in honor of prominent Remington Park owner and breeder Bryan Hawk’s brother who passed away in 2017.
The score with Popular Kid was one of three on the night for Alvarez. He also triumphed with Young Skywalker ($4.80 to win) in the sixth race and Sierra Summer ($32) in the ninth race. Alvarez now has 29 wins on the season, tying him for fifth in the Remington Park standings with Leandro Goncalves. David Cabrera is well on his way to a fourth-consecutive leading rider title with 75 wins.
Remington Park racing continues Saturday, Nov. 20 with the first race at 7:07pm-Central.
Tracked by more than 167,000 fans on Facebook and 10,500 Twitter followers, Remington Park has provided more than $278 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 for the $400,000 Springboard Mile on Friday, Dec. 17. Simulcast horse racing featured daily, the casino is always open! Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.