RELENTLESSLY PULLS OFF BIGGEST UPSET ON NIGHT OF CHAMPIONS, TAKING DOWN INSTYGATOR IN THE HERITAGE PLACE DERBY
The Grade 2, $361,010 Heritage Place Derby got off to a slow start when two horses that acted up in the gate had to be scratched from the race, but when it was time for the house lights to come up, Relentlessly put on quite a show.
The 3-year-old colt, trained by Jose Huerta for owners Aguila Negra Racing of Fairview Heights, Ill., pulled off the biggest upset of the night, beating the 3-5 wagering favorite Instygator by three-quarters of a length.
Things got a little antsy before the race when the horses in gates 4 and 5, Vocalize and Apollitical Bird, had to be scratched after acting up in the gate. That dropped the field to eight horses and Instygator was right next door in the post-position three when all this action happened in the gate. Whether or not that bothered the favorite is debatable, but he did run a bit fractiously, zigging and zagging his way to the finish line to get second, three-quarters of a length behind Relentlessly (5-1), who couldn’t have had a better race.
Jockey Raul Valenzuela used the geometric theory of the fastest journey from one point to another is a straight line with Relentlessly, and the son of Hes Relentless, out of the Carters Cartel mare Runaway Renata, performed like a pro. His running time for the 400 yards was :19.682 over the fast track, good for a 90 speed index. As soon as the gate opened for the race, trainer Jose Huerta had a good feeling.
“I knew from the beginning when he broke good, we had a great chance,” said Huerta. “I felt really good. He saw the opportunity and showed up for this race.”
He should feel ecstatic. His trainee had just beaten a horse that ran second by a neck to Whistle Stop Café, the AQHA World Champion of 2020, in last year’s All American Futurity. Instygator tried to close the gap late, but it was too late.
“Relentlessly has always been a good little horse,” said Valenzuela. “I just had to keep him going.”
Relentlessly and Instygator ran 1-2 from gate to wire. Fallout (7-2) was third, a full length behind Instygator.
Relentlessly paid $12.60 to win, $4.80 to place and $3.60 to show. He earned $151,624 in the race, which had the second-largest purse in its history. The only time $361,010 was passed was in 2019 when it was $367,750. Relentlessly started the night with only $97,727 in earnings while Instygator was trying to approach millionaire status at $811,691. Relentlessly moved to eight starts with five wins and two seconds for $249,351 in career money. Instygator improved to nine starts, five wins, three seconds and one third for $873,063 in earnings, receiving $61,372 for second place.
Relentlessly was bred in Texas by Randy and Sandy Coleman. It was the first win for all the winning connections in the Derby. He had run second in the Oklahoma Futurity last March at Remington Park to Aint She Tempting, losing by one length and then ran fifth earlier this spring in the Oklahoma Derby in March. May is proving to be a much more lucrative month for the winner. His four wins previous to Saturday night all came in trials. This was the first stakes win for Relentlessly.
The final running order for the Derby was Relentlessly, Instygator, Fallout, Dreamland Express, CR Appollitical Joe, Woodys Gold, A Pollitical Gal and Spotty Politics.
The final racing program of the 2021 American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season at Remington Park takes place on Sunday, May 30. The first race is at 1:30pm-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 features live and simulcast horse racing, and the casino is always open! Visit remingtonpark.com for more information.