While we can’t anticipate whether the final Saturday in March will go out like a lamb or a lion weather-wise, we can guarantee the nation’s top Paint racers will be featured on March 26 at Remington Park.
The night is robust as the first futurity of the year awaits in the Grade 1 $122,900 Oklahoma Paint & Appaloosa Futurity, with a 10-horse fieldof all Paints who qualified on March 11. The Grade 1 $44,200 Speedhorse Graham Derby has the 2015 World Champions in the field of 10, including Speedhorse Triple Crown Winner Painted Turnpike.
The 2015 World Champion Running Solid Paint-Bred, Painted Turnpike’s inclusion helped keep the 3-year-old entries so limited that trials weren’t needed. The 350-yard final will be the opening 2016 act for Painted Turnpike, who has posted one official workout to ready for the derby, an easy 220-yard breeze at Remington Park on March 3 in :11.20 seconds on a fast track. The Oklahoma-bred homebred colt of Nolan Pevehouse from Webbers Falls was near perfect as a 2-year-old, winning eight of his nine attempts, finishing second in a trial for the Fair Meadows Speedhorse Futurity last summer after a stumbling start to deny perfection.
While Painted Turnpike is the expected favorite to win his ninth career race, Bull has to be in the thoughts of horseplayers as well. The 2015 World Champion Running Horse, Bull never finished out of the money in eight starts at age 2 with three wins and a pair of seconds and thirds to his credit. The colt, owned by Buddy Albin of Denton, Texas, could never get by Painted Turnpike in their encounters last year, but the tobiano colt has a resilient quality when he competes that might eventually help him catch his rival.
With no trials for the derby, four in the field of 10 used an allowance event on the opening night of the Remington Park season to ready. Barracuda, Imahotchicken, Wagonette and Paleface Cartel all competed on March 11 at 300 yards. Imahotchicken finished second that night, beaten as the 3-2 betting favorite, while Wagonette was third, Paleface Cartel fourth and Barracuda fifth.
Sturgis has entered the derby for the Paint Horse Queens of Coweta, Oklahoma, but will need a career best, having just finished seventh in a maiden special event on March 19 at Remington Park.
My Speedhorse Graham Derby selections: Painted Turnpike, Bull, Imahotchicken, Wagonette.
The Oklahoma Paint Futurity appears to have plenty of potentially talented Paints, even though none stood out after the trials quite like Painted Turnpike did a year ago after he posted a 2-1/4 length score in his initial heat.
If you like the consistent production of 2-year-olds from the barn of trainer Dee Keener, then the Oklahoma Paint Futurity is your kind of race. Dee will saddle six of the 10 on March 26 in the 300-yard event, including top qualifier CL Trap Queen. Owned by Wade and Charles Leggett of Muskogee, Oklahoma, CL Trap Queen won her trial by a half-length under Ivan Carnero in :15.828 seconds on a fast track, with light asking from her rider.
The Leggett-Keener combo will also send KC Texas Lady, who was the tenth and final qualifier but with a solid excuse. The 2-year-old filly went to her nose at the start in a severe stumble. Ivan managed to stay on and KC Texas Lady righted her situation and powered to the finish with a rally for third in her trial and a time just good enough to make the final. KC Texas Lady obviously has great ability to overcome such an error and will factor among the top finishers with a clean start. Ricky Ramirez will ride KC Texas Lady while Ivan stays with CL Trap Queen.
Trainer Matt Whitekiller will send two in the futurity, trying to follow his win a year ago with Painted Turnpike. He will saddle Paint Me Turnpike—the best qualifier—for Nolan Pevehouse and CRM Radio Flyer—fifth best qualifier—for Dan and Kaye Jones of Kemp, Texas. Both will contend, but CRM Radio Flyer was a bit slow from the gate and still managed to make up ground to win his trial and make the final.
Oklahoma Paint Futurity selections: KC Texas Lady, CL Trap Queen, CRM Radio Flyer and DTL Josie Wales.
Ivoriona was touted in my season preview on Flash and she dropped jaws in her career debut at Remington Park on March 20. The filly owned by the Lexington, Oklahoma, partnership of Mickey Johnson and Randy Hill left no doubt who might be the best 2-year-old Paint this year. She crushed her maiden competition by 3-1/4 lengths in a 250-yard race over a fast track. If the margin wasn’t enough in that short event, her time certainly was as she established a new Remington Park track record for Paints at the measure, crossing the finish in :13.036 seconds. Jockey Jorge Torres was a passenger as the daughter of Ivory James (QH) from the Texas Hero mare Friona was well within herself, never touched by the rider’s whip.
Trained by Stacy Charette-Hill, Ivoriona is not expected to compete again until late May in the trials for the G1 $200,000 (estimated) Speedhorse Graham Futurity.
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Dale Day is the track handicapper at Remington Park in Oklahoma City; follow him on Twitter @thedaleday. His “Pick a Winner” column is regularly featured during the Remington Park meet season at myflashyride.com.\