Trainer Teri Luneack's two favorite things are a horse named Welder and a highway sign that says, “Remington Park next exit.”
Welder, Oklahoma's Horse of the Year in 2018, made his summer debut at his favorite track and showed how much he missed his home footing, blasting away from a field of eight and stamping his warning to those who might want to take him on at Remington Park. He stopped the timer for six furlongs on a fast track in this $40,000 Highland Ice Sprint open allowance race Saturday night in a gray lightning time of 1 minute, 8.74 seconds. The track record is 1:08.10, set in 1991.
The 6-year-old gelded son of The Visualizer, out of the Tiznow mare Dance Softly, owned by Ra-Max Farm of Claremore (Clayton Rash), won for the sixth time in a row at Remington, five of those in stakes-company. His record lifetime in Oklahoma City is eight wins in 12 starts.
In July, he had lost his last race at Prairie Meadows in Iowa to D'Rapper, who was also in tonight's race. The tables were turned as Welder's home course magic continued.
“We're ready for the rematch,” Luneack said prior to the race.
“He's still got it,” she said.
D'Rapper, who went off at 6-5 odds to Welder's 4-5, faded in the upper stretch and finished sixth.
“I wanted this rematch,” Luneack said.
Jockey David Cabrera, who has ridden him in his last nine starts and has won seven of those, explained the difference in this night and losing in Iowa.
“I think this horse, he just loves Remington Park,” said Cabrera, who made every pole a winning one Saturday night, setting fractions of 22.28 for the first quarter-mile, 45.13 for the half-mile and 56.90 for five-eighths of a mile. “You know, you really don't make a game plan for this horse. He feels really confident here. You just let him do whatever he wants to do and he gets it done, every time.”
Welder added $29,347 to his bankroll and his record now stands at 28 starts, 18 wins, four seconds and four thirds for $751,998.
One of Welder's best races of the year may have been a third place finish in the $150,000 Hot Springs Stakes at Oaklawn Park in Arkansas, a prep for that track's top sprint of the year, the Count Fleet Handicap. In the Hot Springs, Welder ran third, beaten only two lengths by the 2018 Breeders' Cup Sprint runner-up, Whitmore. It does run through her head how Welder would fare in this year's version of the world's top sprint race.
“It does,” she said. “I wish maybe we would have done something even last year. We should have thought about it. But hindsight is 20-20. I think he's a good enough horse to run with the best of them. I really do.”
Welder was bred in Oklahoma by Center Hills Farm, the same farm that produced Kip Deville.
Welder paid $3.80 to win, $3.20 to place and $2.20 to show. He won by three lengths over runner-up King of the Court who was at 13-1 odds and another 2-3/4 lengths ahead of third-place finisher Glory Stars who went off at 11-1. The $2 exacta paid $32.60 and the 50-cent trifecta was worth $43.70.
Saturday's allowance event is named after Highland Ice, an Oklahoma Horse Racing Hall of Fame sprinter who shares the all-time record for Remington Park wins with 15, most of them in stakes appearances.
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