by J. Keeler Johnson
A wide trip from an outside post might be challenging for some horses to overcome, but these factors were of no concern to Owendale in Sunday’s $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3) at Remington Park.
Under a confident ride from regular rider Florent Geroux, Owendale looked like a winner from start to finish. Reserved in eighth place as 40-1 shot Sleepy Eyes Todd carved out an opening quarter-mile in :23.95, Owendale unleashed a bold early move to reach fifth place through a half-mile in :48.03. Continuing his progress, Owendale casually advanced alongside the leaders while racing four-wide around the far turn and was poised to strike at the top of the stretch.
From there, the race was over. When Geroux asked Owendale to challenge, the colt responded with a finishing kick that carried him to a decisive 1 3/4-length victory in the solid time of 1:49.29 for 1 1/8 miles. Sleepy Eyes Todd held for second by a neck over Chess Chief, while Mucho Gusto – favored at 9-10 off a third-place finish in the Travers Stakes (G1) at Saratoga – flattened out after tracking the pace and settled for fourth. Tax was a notable scratch.
Owned by Rupp Racing and trained by Brad Cox, Owendale had previously won the Lexington Stakes (G3) and Ohio Derby (G3) during a productive spring/summer campaign. The son of Into Mischief entered the Oklahoma Derby off a fifth-place finish in the Travers, where he was compromised by racing along a dead rail for most of the race.
With a trio of Grade 3 victories under his belt this season, Owendale has emerged as a tough player in the three-year-old division while accumulating career earnings of $958,725.
Earlier in the evening, Lady Apple secured a third graded stakes victory of her own in the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks (G3). Facing just three rivals, including the Cox-trained 7-10 favorite Gold Standard, Lady Apple raced widest of all as the quartet traveled down the backstretch four in a line with barely a length separating them.
But despite taking a scenic route around the track, Lady Apple reached even terms with Gold Standard at the top of the stretch and out-battled her rival to win by half a length. With Ricardo Santana Jr. in the saddle for trainer Steve Asmussen, Lady Apple stopped the clock for 1 1/16 miles in 1:43.65.
Owned by Phoenix Thoroughbred III and KatieRich Stables, Lady Apple has compiled an admirable season with victories in the Fantasy Stakes (G3) and Iowa Oaks (G3) plus a third-place finish in the Kentucky Oaks (G1) on her record. The daughter of Curlin now boasts career earnings of $811,950.
Lady Apple was the biggest score on a record night for Asmussen, whose seven wins set a new mark for a trainer on a single card at Remington. Santana was aboard all seven, according to Daily Racing Form equaling the Remington single-card record for a jockey.