Pletcher Operation to Send Crimson Comic, Sebastian County Is In

Monday, October 13th 2008, 6:18 pm
By: News 9

For Immediate Release

Sunday, October 12, 2008

OKLAHOMA CITY - The contender group of those planning to enter the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby, presented by NEWS 9, is beginning to take shape. Confirmations were received Sunday from many, including Crimson Comic and Sebastian County.

Owned by WinStar Farm and trained by Todd Pletcher, Crimson Comic is expected to ship by van from his Churchill Downs base in Louisville, Kentucky, by Saturday morning. Pletcher is optimistic about Crimson Comic's chances as he readies for his ninth career start.

"He's doing really well right now. His last race was really good so he deserves the race. It's probably a bit of an ambitious spot for him but he's good at the moment."

The last event for Crimson Comic was good for a second-place effort in allowance company at Belmont Park going 1-1/16 miles. He's won three of eight career races coming into the Oklahoma Derby with one second-place run as well for total earnings of $77,066.

Pletcher mentioned that more than likely a rider from outside the Remington Park colony would have the call on Crimson Comic.

Don Von Hemel, the patriarch of the training Von Hemel family, will saddle Sebastian County in the Oklahoma Derby. A third-place runner at age 2 in the Grade 3, $200,000 Arlington-Washington Futurity at Arlington Park in Chicago, Sebastian County won the $75,000 Northern Spur Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Ark. earlier this year.

Owned by Toby Keith's Dream Walkin Farms, Sebastian County worked Sunday morning at Remington Park and will give a nice account of himself according to Von Hemel.

"He had a lot of trouble in both of his races at Prairie Meadows (Iowa Derby and Prairie Meadows Derby) this summer and didn't really get a chance to run. He didn't like the artificial track too much at Arlington. He ran really well at Oaklawn this year and is training well."

Sebastian County worked five furlongs over a fast Remington Park surface Sunday morning in 1:03.03. The Hennessy colt is being handled this week by son Donnie Von Hemel until the veteran Von Hemel arrives for the race weekend. Son Kelly Von Hemel rounds out the conditioning Von Hemel family.

Von Hemel mentioned Cliff Berry, Remington Park's all-time leading jockey, would probably be named on Sebastian County.

Listed are those planning on entering Friday for the Oklahoma Derby as of Sunday, October 12, with their nominating trainer and the career earnings of each horse:

  • Acting Zippy - Don Bennett, $66,478
  • Atlantic Paws - James Chapman, $82,459
  • Crimson Comic - Todd Pletcher, $77,066
  • Euro Silver Jet - Joe Casey, $38,784
  • Face the Cat - Steve Asmussen, $66,040
  • Fire Brewed - Steve Asmussen, $58,165
  • Golden Yank - Gary Thomas, $383,516
  • King Darius - Andrew Ali, $37,277
  • Quiet Again - Jimmie Claridge, $69,504
  • Sebastian County - Don Von Hemel, $120,816
  • Snug - Jim Hudson, $146,950
  • Tiz Now Tiz Then - Eoin Harty, $299,450

Others are still considering the trip to Oklahoma City and Remington Park for the Oklahoma Derby. Among those, Real Appeal (222,482) trained by Tom Amoss who stated late Sunday he was "on the fence" in weighing his options in shipping the colt from his Churchill Downs base.

Trainer Steve Asmussen noted that Ablaze With Spirit ($236,820) is already on the grounds at Remington Park but was given a ‘maybe' status on Sunday morning.

California-based trainer Mike Puype told the Remington Park media office staff that he is still looking at the race for Muny ($71,160) and will ship by mid-week after speaking with the horses owners if they decide to enter.

Trainer Jason Orman said at the beginning of the weekend he was conferring with his owners, Fab Oak Stable, on whether or not to enter Nownownow ($685,599), last year's Breeders' Cup Juvenile Turf winner, in the Oklahoma Derby. Nownownow is stabled at Santa Anita Park in Arcadia, Calif.

Pyro the top horse by earnings nominated to the Oklahoma Derby with $1,469,883, will remain in southern California at this time according to Asmussen and will not enter the race.

Should the Oklahoma Derby overfill, a preference method will be used to determine the 12 starters based on high-weights respective of sex, then lifetime earnings.

The Oklahoma Derby is the headline event in a weekend that features six other stakes races with total purses at $850,000.

Saturday, October 18, the females have their night with three races: the $75,000 Remington Park Oaks, on the turf at one mile for 3-year-old fillies; the $50,000 Ada Stakes, at six furlongs for 3-year-olds and older; and the $50,000 E.L. Gaylord Memorial Stakes for 2-year-old fillies at 6-1/2 furlongs.

The undercard on Oklahoma Derby Day includes the top 2-year-old race of the season in the $125,000 Remington-MEC Mile; the $125,000 Remington Green for 3-year-olds and older over the turf at 1-1/16 miles; and the $75,000 Remington Park Sprint Championship at seven furlongs for 3-year-olds and older.

Post time on Saturday, October 18 is 6:30 p.m. The first race on Oklahoma Derby Day, Sunday, October 19 is at 1:30 p.m.