OKLAHOMA DERBY | PURSE: $400,000 | 3-YEAR-OLDS | GRADE 3 | 1 1/8-MILES
Broadway Empire, a Turf Paradise-based gelding who shipped to Oklahoma after back-to-back wins in Alberta, Canada, grabbed the early lead and never looked back en route to victory in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park Sept. 29.
Those left in his wake included 3-10 favorite Departing, who made his usual move entering the far turn but came under a ride and flattened out late to finish fourth. Departing had won the Super Derby and West Virginia Derby (both gr. II) this summer.
Broadway Empire, a 3-year-old owned by Randy Howg, Bob Butz, Fouad El Kardy, and Rick Running Rabbit, had won the Canadian Derby in his previous start, and the Ky Alta Stakes before that. Both races were at Northlands Park in Alberta.
A Kentucky foal by Empire Maker out of the Belong to Me mare Broadway Hoofer, Broadway Empire was bred by Mercedes Stables. He is trained by Robertino Diodoro and was ridden by Rico Walcott, who is now 3-for-3 aboard the gelding.
Walcott sent Broadway Empire to the lead in the 1 1/8-mile event, and the gelding set solid fractions of :23.29, :46.71, and 1:11.15 while under no pressure. Cameo Appearance raced in second and Carve in third with Departing picking up his interest rounding the far turn.
Broadway Empire, however, opened up by five lengths after Departing ranged up outside of Cameo Appearance. The leader, completing the mile in 1:35.97, ended up winning by four lengths, with Cameo Appearance a half-length ahead of Carve, who edged past Departing near the wire.
The final time was 1:49.44 on a fast track.
Heavy show wagering on Departing, who missed the top three, created huges show prices. Broadway Empire, only 3-1, paid $8.80, $4.20, and $30 across the board. Cameo Appearance (9-1) returned $9 and $43.60, while Carve (22-1) paid $76.40 to show. The exacta returned $52 and the trifecta $346.80.
"You want to take it one step at a time, but we did have this race picked out for him," said Diodoro, a regular at Turf Paradise who also races in California and the upper midwest.
"He was training good," Walcott said. "I just wanted to get him out of the gate and get him to relax."
Broadway Empire, who made his career debut at Turf Paradise in March this year and romped home a 16-length winner in sizzling time, has won four of six starts. In May he finished second in the Came Home Stakes at Betfair Hollywood Park.
Broadway Empire, a three-length winner in the Canadian Derby Aug. 17, is 4-for-4 on dirt. The $240,000 first-place check in the Oklahoma Derby pushed his earnings to $405,745.
In the $200,000 Remington Park Oaks for 3-year-old fillies, Ghostzapper Racing's Montana Native led wire-to-wire while under constant hounding from Gold Medal Dancer, who re-rallied in the stretch to lose by a nose. Sister Ginger was third, with favored Marathon Lady fourth.
Trained by Ken McPeek, Montana Native finished fifth and last in the grade I Alabama Stakes at Saratoga Race Course in her last start Aug. 17. She won the restricted Broom Dance Stakes at Saratoga before the Alabama.
Bred in Kentucky by Westana Ranches Inc., Montana Native is by Yes It's True out of the Quiet American mare Special American. She now has four wins in 12 starts.
Terry Thompson rode the winner, who paid $7 as the second choice in a field of seven.