CLAREMORE, Okla. – Spring racing returns to Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs for the 11th consecutive year on March 16. With the races comes the arrival of some of the top thoroughbred competitors contending for the lead position in 270 races featured throughout the meet.
Live racing runs March 16-May 23, with special celebrations on race days for both the Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes. Races begin at 1:15 p.m.
“The highlight of this season figures to be Welder,” said John Lies, racing secretary, announcer and oddsmaker at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. The three-time Horse of the Meet won his last HOM title last year as a 6-year-old and is approaching the $1 million mark in career earnings.
“The $50,000 Highland Ice Stakes on April 7 is likely to be the gelding’s next race, and a win would put him well over the million-dollar mark,” Lies said.
Stakes races begin the preceding day, April 6, with the running of the $50,000 guaranteed Wilma Mankiller Stakes. A purse of $55,000 is also guaranteed for the Cinema Stakes on April 20, Will Rogers Stakes on April 21, Miranda Diane Stakes on April 27 and fifth annual TRAO Classic Sprint on April 28.
Closing out the spring meet stakes races on May 18 and May 19 are the More Than Even Stakes and the Cherokee Nation Classic Cup. Both races carry a purse of $55,000 guaranteed.
"We are encouraged by more stall applications for this meet than any other since I've been here, and response to the condition book has been positive,” Lies said. “We hope to proceed in the direction we headed last spring by increasing our exposure and handle through nurturing our relationship with TVG. This looks to be an exciting meet."