Live AQHA racing returns to Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs
CLAREMORE, Okla. – The big rigs roll in packed with this year’s equine competitors, and the smell of shavings fills the barns as trainers, jockeys and horses alike return to Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs for the fall quarter horse meet.
Live AQHA racing begins for a ninth consecutive year on Sept. 8.
The 2018 Will Rogers Downs racing schedule features 28 days of American Quarter Horse Association, Appaloosa and paint stakes races through Nov. 10. The track will run 330-336 races during the meet, averaging 12 races per day. Overnight purses will equal $2.5 million total.
Races post at noon every Friday, Saturday and Sunday.
“We are looking forward to the upcoming quarter horse, paint and Appaloosa seasons with much anticipation,” said John Lies, racing secretary, announcer and oddsmaker at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs.
A total of 14 stakes races are included in the program.
“Most of these horsemen enjoyed a very successful season this spring in Oklahoma City, and the latter part of the Fair Meadows Tulsa meet was characterized by an uptick at the entry box,” Lies said. “We’re hopeful that is a good indication for a successful meet continuing into the fall.”
The Black Gold 350 Championship Futurity Trials on opening day features the top 2-year-old quarter horses in the country going 350 yards. The 10 fastest qualifiers will then compete in the futurity finals on Sept. 23, guaranteeing an added $150,375.
The Miss Ellen Stakes that Sunday offers a 350-yard race for fillies and mares 3 years old and up and guarantees $18,000 in the purse for the fourth year. The AQHA Distance Challenge Finals following the Black Gold 350 Championship on Sept. 23 has 3-year-olds and up competing at 870 yards for the $23,000 prize.
Of the horses returning to the track, Lies has his eyes on the 5-year-old brown horse by PYC Paint Your Wagon.
“Painted Turnpike was the star here last season, and we are thrilled he returns in sharp form. It will be interesting to see if he can top his three victories in as many starts here last fall to garner him Horse of the Meet honors,” Lies said. “He is a very special horse, and we are fortunate to watch him run here.”
The final day of racing on Nov. 10 highlights the Don Drake Memorial with $15,000 guaranteed, the Oklahoma Horsemen’s Association Mystery Derby Finals for $25,000, the Black Gold 440 Championship Futurity Finals worth $150,375, along with the $75,000 Oklahoma Horsemen’s Association Mystery Futurity Restricted Grade III.
Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For more information, visit www.cherokeecasino.com and click on the Will Rogers Downs tab, or call (918) 283-8800.