Will Rogers Downs Concludes 2019 Season With Fewer Races, Increased Handle

by | 06.28.2019 | 3:05pm
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs ends spring thoroughbred meet with more than $16.8 million wagered.

Another successful thoroughbred meet comes to a close at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs, confirming a strong handle and full field in its 13 year of operation.

The 2019 spring meet abandoned the traditional calendar for a later start date, allowing for more simulcast coverage across the country. The thoroughbred meet offered 10 races per scheduled day and featured stakes races guaranteeing no less than $50,000 per race.

The series offered nearly $500,000 in total for the Oklahoma-Bred Program, and more than $3.7 million total purses.

“We saw two outstanding performances from Welder, which garnered him Horse of the Meet honors at this track for the third time,” said John Lies, racing secretary and track announcer for Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs.

The 6-year-old gelding by The Visualizer bred in Oklahoma by Center Hills Farm was perfect in his two starts this season and became the only repeat stakes winner at the meet. He earned Horse of the Meet honors in 2016 and 2017 and has earned over $700,000 in his career.

Welder is owned by Ra-Max Farms Inc., who finished in a dead heat with End Zone Athletics for Leading Owner. Each ownership group recorded eight wins from 33 starts. End Zone stood alone as leading owner during the 2018 season.

“The trainer standings reflect a competitive meet with fair opportunity, as so many different trainers were able to succeed,” Lies said.

Ultimately, trainer Scott Young took top prize and his third consecutive buckle win as Trainer of the Meet. Young sent out 17 winners from 79 starts and saw over half his horses finish in the money. Young finished the meet with seven more wins than Karl Broberg, Ken Nolen and Tim Dixon, who tied for second place with 10 wins each. A total of 12 different trainers won between a remarkable eight and 10 races during the spring season.

Jockey Floyd Wethey Jr. was able to hold a tenuous lead and managed the Leading Jockey award with 24 wins from his 109 mounts. He and Curtis Kimes were in a seesaw battle for much of the season, and Kimes finished only one win behind Wethey with 23 wins at the end.

More than $16.8 million was wagered on live racing for the spring thoroughbred meet. This number is a significant increase from $15 million during the spring 2018 meet with a full season and 271 races, versus 239 for 2019.

“Bettors responded to our more relaxed post time schedule, which improved our handle despite cancelling four race days,” Lies said. “While we were all disappointed severe weather kept us from completing our meet, it did not wash away the impressive highlights of the season.”

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