Unseasonably warm weather, meaning no ice or snow storms, have greeted horsemen as they prepare for their 2016 campaigns at Remington Park. This natural good fortune of no weather delays has made training full speed ahead for the season’s opening night on March 11. The first card of the year features a majority of events for Paints, specifically six trials for the G1 Oklahoma Paint & Appaloosa Futurity.
Painted Turnpike emerged from the Oklahoma Paint & Appaloosa trials a year ago on his way to an historic year. He became the first horse to achieve the Speedhorse Triple Crown by winning the G1 Speedhorse Graham Futurity at Remington Park, the G1 Speedhorse Paint & Appaloosa Futurity at Fair Meadows and then the G1 Speedhorse Paint & Appaloosa Futurity at Lone Star Park.
Painted Turnpike started that journey by winning his trial and then the final for the Oklahoma Paint & Appaloosa Futurity in convincing fashion. This year’s trials boast a talented set, but it is too early to predict a repeat of such domination.
How great was Painted Turnpike’s 2-year-old season? After winning his trial by 2-¼ lengths and then the final of the Oklahoma by 1-½ lengths, the Nolan Pevehouse homebred won all but one of his races the rest of the year. He captured the Triple Crown series and accumulated $231,473 while gaining eight wins from nine attempts, with just one second.
Painted Turnpike’s 2-year-old resume and a stellar first workout of 2016—coming in at :11.20 seconds over 220 yards breezing at Remington Park on March 3—was evidently enough to keep early challengers away; the 2016 Speedhorse Graham Paint & Appaloosa Derby will only feature a final, as its 10 entries was not enough to force trial heats. Painted Turnpike will face his few challengers on March 26. There, he will begin his 3-year-old run and attempt to make a bid at the all-time Paint earnings record.
The great Got Country Grip holds the money mark at $361,881 While the biggest purse money is in 2-year-old racing, “Grip” poured it on at age 3 and 4, winning his first 16 career races. The big streak kept the paychecks rolling in for Grip, constantly growing his career earnings. While Painted Turnpike has an edge—purses have grown in the years since Grip last raced in 2010; Painted Turnpike earned more in going a perfect 5-for-5 at Remington Park in his 2-year-old year ($159,417) than Grip made in his entire 14-race career in Oklahoma City ($156,354)—his main challenge is his own physical stature. As a colt, another big year at 3 might be his final on the track as the lure of breeding opportunities await.
The new year brings fresh optimism for many 2-year-old Paints as they get set for their debut. One to look for is Ivoriona who was absolutely spectacular in her training race on March 2 at Remington Park. After breaking out slightly, Ivoriona straightened then dominated to win her 250-yard event by 4-¼ lengths, all while under a complete hand ride and into a strong 24mph headwind. Her time of :13.72 seconds over a fast track was the second fastest of the day’s 10 all-breed training races.
Ivoriona has not yet entered, so we anxiously await the first outing for this impressive training-race victor.
Good luck to all of our Paint racing competitors and their connections as the 2016 racing season begins at Remington Park and continues through June 4.
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.
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