CLAREMORE, Okla. – The 2024 spring thoroughbred racing season has officially concluded at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs with 238 races run over 28 days and nearly $19 million in wagers.

"We continue to card races of a more competitive nature and somewhat higher caliber than in the years prior to the pandemic,” said John Lies, racing secretary, announcer and oddsmaker at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. “We attracted a variety of horsemen from numerous states to compete with our state-breds, and the stakes program has never been stronger. Some of the best races of the season were stakes; again, a departure from the earliest years in the track's history.”

Take Me Serious, a 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred mare bred by Bryan Hawk, was named the 2024 Horse of the Meet. Following an impressive return to the races following a 15-month layoff, Take Me Serious won the Miranda Diane Stakes on March 25 and finished an honest second against Open Company in the Wilma Mankiller Stakes April 15. She then returned to state-bred company and stretched out over a distance, winning the More Than Even Stakes on May 7. She earned $75,680 from three starts this season.    

Jockey Elvin Gonzalez was the leading jockey with 35 wins at a 25 percent clip, six more than veteran campaigner Curtis Kimes and seven ahead of third-leading rider Alfredo Triana Jr.

Trainer of the Meet honors were awarded to Federico Villafranco with 20 wins, 21 seconds and 16 thirds from 96 total starters. He outfinished second-leading trainer Joe Offolter, who conditions Horse of the Meet Take Me Serious, by three wins with a 21 percent win clip.

Both Gonzalez and Villafranco achieved these local honors for the first time. 

Owner Bryan Hawk, who was recognized for his excellence in numerous categories at the 2023 TRAO banquet last week, was the leading owner at Will Rogers Downs this spring. His horses, including Take Me Serious, earned $258,434 and registered 13 wins, seven seconds and nine thirds from 53 total starts.

The horse racing facility also saw bigger crowds to celebrate national races.

"One of the highlights this season was live racing on Kentucky Derby Day,” said Lies. “Local fans who maybe can't make it on a weekday came out to enjoy the pageantry, and it was nice to have some on-track buzz." 

Located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20, Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is northeast Oklahoma’s home to on and off track betting, Quarter Horse and Thoroughbred races, live entertainment, and more. For more information, visit and click on the Will Rogers Downs tab or call (918) 283-8800.