TRAINER DEE KEENER FIRST TO BRING HORSES THROUGH GATES FOR SECOND YEAR IN ROW AT REMINGTON PARK
Trainer Dee Keener, the winner of the most Paint races in history, was the first through the Remington Park gates on Monday morning, the first day horses were brought into the backside for the 2024 Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa race season that starts March 7.
It was the second year in a row Keener has been first. Last year, he broke trainer Tammy Johnson’s six-year streak that she had held through 2022 of being the first to arrive. She would show up at midnight the night before in anticipation of the opening of the gates. Oh, how things have changed. Keener pulled up at 9:30 a.m. this morning and still was the first through.
“Yeah, I was kind of surprised that I was first when they told me that,” Keener said. “I had gotten a late start, galloping horses at home.”
Keener ships in from Inola, Okla., located about 30 minutes east of Tulsa. He brought six horses with him this morning to the stable area where he has been assigned 40 stalls this meet. He was helped by the daughter of his former hauling partner Ronnie Spurlock.
“Kelsey helped today because Ronnie had to go in for open-heart surgery,” said Keener. “She has been a real help when I really needed it. By the time the day is over, we will have 30 horses here (at Remington Park). We will haul about five trailers over here and still be home by 6 p.m.”
It takes Keener about four hours round-trip from Inola to Oklahoma City each time.
Even though he is known for passing the all-time legendary late, great Paint trainer Lewis Wartchow, to gain his nickname of King of the Paints, Keener’s biggest moment of his racing career came in 2022 when he won the $1 million Heritage Place Futurity with a Quarter Horse named Tres Crystals for now-97-year-old owner Elizabeth Logan of Haskell, Okla.
“She’s still going strong,” said Keener of young-at-heart owner. “I’m training more of her horses this year. With her, I have a couple of 3-year-olds, a 4-year-old and four 2-year-olds.”
One of the horses Logan owns that will be back for Keener this meet is the 3-year-old Deck Stack, a gelding who won his Heritage Place Futurity trial at Remington Park, but did not qualify fast enough to make the finals. He did run second in the $100,000 Heritage Place Juvenile Stakes, winning $18,987 in the process. He hasn’t won since that trial race, but did make an effort to qualify for the $3 million All American Futurity at Ruidoso Downs in the mountains in New Mexico. He ran fourth in that trial against some of the best 2-year-old Quarter Horses in the world.
If you look at breeding alone, Keener could have some nice ones in his barn this year.
“I have some by Apollitical Jess, four Quarter Horses by Flying Cowboy 123, two Paints by him, and two Apps by him,” said Keener. “I have a couple of FDD Dynasty’s also.”
He hasn’t forgotten his Paint legacy either. He has several Paints in his barn by the most prolific Paint sire in recent history, CRM Livewire. He also has some by stallion Painted Turnpike, who won 26 of 31 races in his career for earnings of $465,442.
“I’m not sure what we have this year,” said Keener. “We will have a better idea after training races (which start Feb. 14). I’ve worked some from the gate at my ranch a couple of times and we have some that can run. I have a four-horse gate at the ranch, which has a one-mile oval. I can work them comfortably about 200-250 yards.”
Keener said he would probably gallop a few on Tuesday, the first day the Remington Park track opens for workouts. He said he would step it up to breezing on Thursday and Friday this week.
Remington Park has provided more than $344 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 2024 racing schedule begins Thursday, March 7, as the American Quarter Horse, Paint and Appaloosa Season starts its 50-date season. 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.