Two Kentucky Derby ex-pats won’t answer the bell, but the Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby brings its share of recognizable names and decorated 3-year-olds to Remington Park for Sunday’s 32nd edition of the state’s biggest race.
You won’t find Major Fed and Necker Island in the field. The two Derby runners were nominated, but weren’t entered in the nine-horse field when Wednesday’s posts were drawn.
That took some needed intrigue out of the $200,000 race that does, however, offer a trio of I-know-that-horse contenders. You’ll find Indiana Derby winner Shared Sense, Ohio Derby winner Dean Martini, and Oklahoma native son Rowdy Yates. Those three – each sporting career earnings north of $300,000 – headline the marquee race on Remington Park’s eight-stakes, 11-race card.
Your winner will likely come from that trio who danced on the fringes of the Derby Trail in varying degrees this year. The heaviest stepper in the field, if not by earnings, is Shared Sense. He opens as the 5/2 morning line favorite off his fifth-place finish to Art Collector in the Ellis Park Derby in early August. Shared Sense finished in the exacta in five of nine starts, winning three.
Indiana Derby Stands Out on Shared Sense’s Resume
The biggest of those three came in July’s Indiana Derby, which produced not only a career-best Equibase Speed Figure of 96, but a healthy chunk of Shared Sense’s $327,545 in career earnings. Shared Sense has two wins and a second in six 2020 starts.
A win here gives trainer Brad Cox his second consecutive Oklahoma Derby title – he won with Owendale last year – and helps him close the 2020 trainer earnings gap on Steve Asmussen.
Cox’s contingent earned more than $11 million this year, second to Asmussen’s $14-plus million.
As for Asmussen, he counters with Rowdy Yates (4/1) at a track where he is the all-time winningest trainer. The Oklahoma-bred Rowdy Yates owns two stakes victories at Remington Park, the Oklahoma Classics Juvenile and the Don McNeill Stakes. Both came against other Oklahoma-breds, but Rowdy Yates did win the Ellis Park Juvenile and the Riley Allison Derby at Sunland Park.
Oklahoma Derby Would be a Rowdy Win for Rowdy Yates
Those are four of Rowdy Yates’ five victories and built the foundation of his $346,556 in earnings. Stewart Elliott, one of the Southwest’s top jockeys, gets the assignment of making Rowdy Yates only the third Oklahoma-bred to win the Oklahoma Derby, Clever Trevor (1989) and Shotgun Kowboy (2015) being the others.
While Shared Sense and Rowdy Yates have earned impressive paydays, neither of them leads the field in career earnings. That honor goes to Dean Martini, the 7/2 second favorite. The Cairo Prince gelding banked $393,202 in his career, hitting the board nine times in 11 races. None of those races hit the board harder than Dean Martini’s gutsy win in June’s Ohio Derby. There, the 14/1 shot beat not only Breeders’ Cup Juvenile winner Storm the Court, but also Rowdy Yates and Derby runner South Bend.
Dean Martini earned a career-best 99 Equibase Speed Figure for that effort. He bounced off that somewhat in the Ellis Park Derby, finishing sixth with an 85 Equibase that was his worst in five races.
These Two Could Make Matters More Interesting
Two others worth mild attention are Avant Garde (6/1) and Mo Mosa (8/1). Avant Garde owns four victories against lesser company than what awaits him here. But when Avant Garde wins, he wins big. His four victories came by a combined 17 lengths, none shorter than 3 ¼ lengths.
Mo Mosa, meanwhile, opened 2020 on the Derby Trail. But after finishing 12th (with a 40 Equibase Speed Figure) in the Tampa Bay Derby and sixth in the Arkansas Derby, Mo Mosa departed the trail posthaste. He won his last race, an allowance, by 4 ¼ lengths at Ellis Park last month. He’s owned by Perry and Denise Martin, who co-owned 2014 Kentucky Derby and Preakness champion California Chrome.
The pick: Dean Martini. The most consistent runner in a field lacking consistency. He has speed figures that, at his best, should be the best here.