TRAINER EDDIE WILLIS WINS 12TH TRAINING TITLE, JOCKEY JUAN PULIDO, OWNER DUNN RANCH ALSO TAKE HOME REMINGTON CHAMPIONSHIPS
Trainer Eddie Willis won the Remington Park training title for an unprecedented 12th time this American Quarter Horse/Paint and Appaloosa meet that ended Sunday and his recipe for winning is a simple one.
“I find you do better if you work harder,” Willis said, who has now won three in a row. “To win a title you have to have a lot of help and my kids have helped me my whole life. It’s a family business.”
In the jockeys’ race for a title, Juan Pulido won his first trophy, ending a streak of three championships in a row for James Flores. Among owners, Dunn Ranch of Wynnewood, Okla., finished on top.
The late Rodney Reed had the second most training titles in his Remington Park career with 10.
Willis, of Caney, Okla., and living in Ada now, knew when he was a little boy that something like this was what he wanted to do all his life. His dad trained a few horses and that is when it got into his blood.
“You love to win races,” Willis said. “But you get in it to make a living and make money. That will happen when you do things right. My horses have won more than $1 million at Remington Park several times.”
They did it again this meet, earning more than $1.2 million.
Willis had starters 253 times and won with 45 of them, ran second 35 times, and third 33 more. He won with 18 percent of his starters, while his athletes ran first, second or third 45 percent of the time. They earned $1,234,045 on the track. He finished $218,858 ahead of Clint Crawford’s barn who earned $1,015,187. Willis and Crawford were the only two trainers to finish with total earning of $1 million or more.
Willis’ horses won three races on the final day Sunday, with Apollitical J Streak in the second, Witten 82 in the fourth and Teller Ill Return in the ninth.
Willis’ two biggest wins came on March 20 when JS Dashin Capi won the $50,000 Oklahoma Juvenile Stakes with Jimmy Brooks in the saddle for owners James Sills and Able Flores. On April 17, he saddled for the win in the Grade 3 Mr Master Bug Stakes with Jose Alvarez riding Bran Nu Dae for owner Alona James.
Willis’ first training title at Remington Park came in 2004. From 2010-2014, he had a five-year string of titles here. He had a drought from 2015-2018 here, and now has won the past three. He received the Jack Brooks Award for being the top trainer at Remington Park, named after the legendary conditioner and AQHA Hall of Famer who won the All American Futurity a record eight times in his career. Brooks and his wife Wynona present the award every spring season.
Juan Pulido – Leading Jockey, Jacky Martin Award
Pulido cruised to the jockey championship with 47 wins, 12 ahead of runner-up Francisco Calderon’s 35 victories. Jorge Torres finished third with 31, followed by Brooks, who moved into fourth with three wins Sunday, giving him 29. Flores, who had a three-year win streak going into this meet, finished fifth with 27 wins.
“It is a dream come true,” said Pulido as he accepted his trophy. “This whole thing, I’ve been working things out and to finish winning the (Heritage Place) Futurity last night. That was the biggest win of my career.”
Pulido won the Grade 1, $1,314,980 Heritage Place Futurity aboard Jet Black Grace for owners Zitro Racing Corp and trainer Fidencio Jimenez on Saturday. He also won the $128,000 Heritage Place Juvenile Stakes on Saturday with Rockin Red Rhythm, the $25,000 Victoria Ennis Memorial Stakes with Shez Wired Up on April 24, the same night he won the Grade 1, $164,200 American Paint Classic with RF Livies Livewire. He started the five stakes wins with Card One Starter on March 20 in the Grade 3, $251,600 Oklahoma Derby.
Pulido led all jockeys in earnings with $1,669,822. Calderon, riding the bulk of the Remington Park season for the first time in his career, finished second in mount earnings with $1,085,580, joining Pulido as the only pair of riders topping $1 million for the season.
The leading jockey award is named in honor of the late Jacky Martin, a riding legend in Quarter Horse racing, who passed away in 2015.
Dunn Ranch – Leading Owner
Dunn Ranch, using Monty Arrossa as its primary trainer, easily won the owners’ championship with 14 victories. Regina Laymon and Bella Vista Farms were tied for second with eight wins each going into the final day. Laymon had a horse in the 10th race while Bella Vista had two entered, in the ninth and the 12th. None of those horses won Sunday. Whiting Ranch and Zitro Racing were tied for fourth and fifth with six wins each.
“We had a great year,” said Bendi Dunn, owner of Dunn Ranch with husband Matt. “We are very appreciative of Monty Arrossa and his assistant Drew Hall and all the office workers at Dunn Ranch. We love Oklahoma. We bought this ranch three years ago and moved the operations here.”
Dunn Ranch relocated their business from Missouri.
Dunn Ranch’s biggest wins this meet came March 9 with Apollitical Pence in the Grade 2, $68,000 Mighty Deck Three Stakes and the Grade 3, $57,000 Easy Jet Stakes on Saturday with Whizkey Glasses. Calderon rode Apollitical Pence and Flores was up on Whizkey Glasses.
Zitro Racing Corp., by virtue of their win in the Heritage Place Futurity with Jet Black Grace, led all owners with total season earnings of $664,810. Dunn Ranch was second with $602,493.
It was also a record year for Remington Park at the claim box. Every racing season, horsemen claim (buy) horses out of claiming races when a horse is entered for a tag. Claiming prices for the Quarter Horse/Paints/Appaloosa meet ranged from $5,000 to $100,000 in optional races this meet. When all was said and done on the final day on Sunday, horsemen finished by dishing out a record for any season, regardless of breed, at Remington Park with $2,490,000 in claims. Going into the final day, these horsemen trailed the thoroughbred record – $2,395,000 to $2,320,00, but there were eight claims on Sunday for a total of $170,000 to give the Quarter Horses/Paints/Appaloosa season the record. The $2.49 million nearly doubled the previous record for this meet of $1.25 million spent in 2020.
It was the first time over $2 million for this season and was accumulated with a record number of 228 claims. If you go back to 2017, the horsemen didn’t even reach $1 million with $950,000 in claims.
The thoroughbred horsemen still hold the record with 236 claims in 2018, but their record $2,395,000 in money accumulated in claims was passed. The thoroughbred horsemen have gone past $2.3 million in claims three times, in 2018, 2017 ($2,377,000) and 2014 ($2,388,750).
Remington Park live racing is now on hiatus until the beginning of the 2021 Thoroughbred Season on Aug. 20.
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