CLAREMORE, Okla. – Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs has concluded another successful thoroughbred meet with a significantly increased handle and new racing fans from around the globe.
"Our racing shifted steadily toward center stage this spring. I am very proud that we were able to complete our season safely,” said John Lies, racing secretary and track announcer for Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. “With tremendous teamwork and diligent protocols, we were able to provide a bright light to horsemen and horseplayers during a difficult time."
Will Rogers Downs was one of the few racehorse tracks globally to continue racing without spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic, with a meticulous focus on the health and safety of the many horsemen who rely on the track for their livelihood. With limited tracks open, this created a move to an international audience for the otherwise nationally broadcast facility.
More than $131 million was handled both on and off the track, an increase of 687% over the $16.8 million the previous year. Will Rogers Downs also defeated their goal of 270 races and last year’s total: running 287 for the thoroughbred meet, with an average field size of 8.8 horses per race.
The series offered $304,422 in total for the Oklahoma-Bred Program and more than $4 million total purses.
As anticipated, Welder, the striking gray Oklahoma-bred gelding, earned the Horse of the Meet title for a fourth time at Will Rogers Downs. The 7-year-old, sired by The Visualizer, was victorious for his fifth straight win in the TRAO Classic Sprint, the winnings locking him in as one of the elite racehorses to surpass the $1 million mark in career earnings.
His jockey, David Cabrera, took home Jockey of the Meet honors, with 36 wins and a 25% win clip over last year’s leading rider Floyd Wethey Jr.’s 35 wins. Ty Kennedy finished third with 32 victories.
Trainer Robertino Diodoro earned the Trainer of the Meet title in a similar upheaval over Scott Young, 28-27. Diodoro also managed a 25% win rate. Trainer Karl Broberg closed out the meet in third place and trains exclusively for End Zone Athletics Inc., easily the leader Owner of the Meet. Horses from End Zone Athletics Inc. won 13 races and finished in the money with 70% of their total starters.
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.