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Raising the Stakes

The initial stakes finals for 2015 at Remington Park always help determine the early frontrunners of the 2-year-old Paint group and if last year’s champions can maintain their winning ways. A pair of Grade 1 events took place March 21 at Remington Park in Oklahoma City.

$140,000 Oklahoma Paint & Appaloosa Futurity

This race continues to grow in popularity, thanks in large part to the solid purse and race structure at Remington Park. It took seven trials to determine the finalists and not in short fields, as every trial was put together with eight or nine contestants. Many impressive qualifiers earned a spot for the final led by the fastest of all, Painted Turnpike.

A 2-year-old bay solid colt owned and bred in Oklahoma by Nolan Pevehouse of Webbers Falls, Oklahoma, Painted Turnpike dominated his trial with ease, cruising to a 2-1/4 length win over PYC Shake It Off who also made the final.

Trained by Matt Whitekiller with Cody Smith getting the return assignment in the saddle, Painted Turnpike showed in his trial that he is ready to lay claim to a “next big thing” title for the 2-year-olds. If he gets away from the starting gate, even semi-cleanly, he should be able to handle this first futurity of the season. He won his trial in hand without jockey encouragement and appears to have more in store.

Painted Turnpike did not disappoint his backers in the G1 $140,600 Oklahoma Paint & Appaloosa Futurity, when the 3-5 favorite broke on top and never looked back. The 2-year-old colt covered the 300-yard distance over a fast track in a winning time of :15.430 seconds.

“It’s been a long dry spell, I’m glad it’s over with. I had good feelings about him from day one,” said an overwhelmed Nolan, who earned $56,428 for the win.

Trainer Matt Whitekiller said he knew he had a runner early on.

“This colt was nice, when Nolan first called me and told me that he was on the ground. We looked at him and he’s just one of those kind. He’s just business,” the trainer said.

Jockey Cody Smith rode the fastest qualifier with confidence.

“In the trials, he broke sharp but not as good as he did tonight,” Cody said. “He got away on his feet good, he was doing it on his own I just stayed out of his way. I didn’t whip him or anything tonight. He’s a hard-trying, honest little horse, you can’t knock him.”

Mt De Boss, a 2013 sorrel overo mare by Capo De Capi (QH) and out of Dash Olene, placed second in the futurity. She’s owned by Monty McNair of Kingfisher, Oklahoma, and bred by Max Thomas Jr., also of Kingfisher.

Imahotchicken, a 2-year-old sorrel solid filly by Royal Quick Flash and out of the super broodmare Game Chicken, the sport’s all-time leading producer, placed third. Basically, it seems every foal Game Chicken has becomes a high-quality runner and earner. Imahotchicken could be the next in her successful line of progeny after she won her trial by a half-length. Owned and bred in Oklahoma by Shirley Wheeler of Boynton, who has the mare with the golden ability, Imahotchicken was in a drive to win her trial. Given the way those out of Game Chicken fare, it is realistic to think Imahotchicken will improve over the season. The 2013 sorrel solid filly is a full sister to APHA World Champion Running Horses Flash The Chicks and Imflashinthechicks.

$47,000 Speedhorse Graham Derby

Texas Silk nearly triumphed in the three biggest futurities last year, winning the Speedhorse Graham race at Remington Park in May, the Speedhorse Fair Meadows event in July and then a failed attempt in the Speedhorse Lone Star Park race in November. The highest money-earner of 2014, the 2012 sorrel solid gelding by Texas Six and out of Judys Silk, was APHA’s World Champion Running Solid Paint-Bred for 2014. His return as a 3-year-old was expected to be as great as the bulk of his efforts in 2014.

In trials for the Speedhorse Graham Derby on March 6 at Remington Park, things did not go his way. Breaking from the outside post in a field of seven, Texas Silk broke slowly and outwardly, costing him his best chance to win the heat. With only a pair of trials needed and only a couple of runners to be culled from the short fields to come up with a 10-horse final, Texas Silk didn’t necessarily need to be the best to reach the derby. Regular jockey Berkley Packer managed to straighten him out and get enough run from the gelding to qualify as he made a late gain to finish third. Berkley was not asking Texas Silk with his whip, letting the veteran do his thing on his own terms.

The way Texas Silk finished the trial revealed he has plenty left in his tank for the derby final. However, Texas Silk needs to start well and not spot his rivals any early advantage. Despite his ability to show a great late kick and make up ground, this derby has too much talent to overcome in that regard.

Appaloosa nemesis Cant Be Caught won the trial over Texas Silk on March 7, doing so with ease by 1-3/4 lengths. He was also the one to defeat Texas Silk in the Lone Star race last fall, denying him status as the Speedhorse Triple Crown series winner. The best part of this budding rivalry on Saturday night, Texas Silk will break from post No. 4 with Cant Be Caught right outside at post No. 5, so they were easy to follow in their duel. The Appaloosa won the Derby, opening up for an easy score in :17.456.

While Texas Silk didn’t perform as expected in the finals, two of my other picks-to-watch did. Dashin JJ, a 2012 sorrel solid gelding by Jungle Jet and out of Dashin Di (QH) who always seems to be in the mix, finished second. Wagon On Turnpike who was a gaining second in his trial, won by Dashin JJ, placed third in the final.

Saturday night’s races are the first of many big-money stakes for the Paints at Remington Park this season, serving up the appetizer for great action that will continue monthly through the end of May.



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.

[Reprinting this article is permitted, so long as credit is given to Flash/APHA and a link provided to myflashyride.com.]

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