Saturday, Aug. 22, Remington Park
The Low-Down: Opening weekend in Oklahoma City features a bolstered $200,000 showcase, the Remington Park Sprint Cup, which has lured horses based in Kentucky, Illinois, Maryland, Louisiana and Oklahoma. The field of eight has earned $2.8 million-plus, and features the return of 2009 Grade 1 Breeders' Cup Sprint sixth-place finisher Sing Baby Sing, hero of Keeneland's G3 Phoenix. The competition also includes G3 Maryland Sprint Handicap winner Ravalo and last year's Grade 1 Forego Handicap runner-up Greeley's Conquest. The nation's leading trainer, Steve Asmussen, counters with Sok Sok, who beat star sprinter Kodiak Kowboy at Fair Grounds earlier this year.
Our Eyes: For a six-furlong sprint worth $200,000, there's not quite as much early gas in here as you would expect. Most of the line-up employs a pounce-and-finish approach, which could leave the few early speed-types in a very advantageous position. Ez Dreamer has shown plenty of early heat since trainer Kory Owens switched the G2 Cinema Handicap runner-up from turf routes back to dirt sprints. Ez Dreamer wired the $125,000 Iowa Sprint at Prairie Meadows in 1:08-1/5 after scorching the opening half-mile in :44 flat. Owens and owner AAA Ranch certainly know their way around top sprinters at Remington, having campaigned the sensationally fast Peaked, who was voted champion local sprinter three times.
Ravalo typically shows more speed than he did in winning on the West Virginia Derby Day undercard last time out at Mountaineer. Jockey Mike Smith was aboard that day for the first time, and the veteran took him farther back than usual, perhaps to get a feel for the track's closing ability for his mount later that day on Mine That Bird. Expect local leading jockey Quincy Hamilton to have Ravalo in the one-two spot shadowing Ez Dreamer on Saturday night.
Sing Baby Sing and Greeley's Conquest both have national reputations, but also deeper local roots. They ran one-two in the 2007 Remington Park Sprint Championship at 7 furlongs on a day when Sing Baby Sing was clearly much the best. Both have improved considerably since then and are training bullets over a track that has played slower in a.m. workouts in recent weeks than typical. Don't expect the 1:08 track record, which has stood since 1991, to be in any sort of jeopardy, even with this quality field.
Justin Shepherd, regular rider for Sing Baby Sing (who is a full-brother to Value Plus), will remain at Delaware Park on Saturday, where several stakes are scheduled and Shepherd is enjoying a career summer tied for fourth in that jockey colony. Chris Landeros takes the call from trainer Jack Bruner. The 21-year-old pilot recently dethroned Cliff Berry as leading jockey at Lone Star in his first summer riding the circuit, many of which came riding for Bruner.
The Bottom Line: Ez Dreamer ran Bold Start and Silver Edition off their feet in the Iowa Sprint, so he can handle this class rise. I'm expecting the speed to hold well with Ravalo the logical exacta pairing. I'll also part-wheel Sing Baby Sing second below the two speedballs in the exactas.
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