by Remington Park Press Room
September 29, 2019
Jim Rupp made a decision in the past few years that has led to owning his first near-millionaire horse, Owendale, winner of the Grade 3, $400,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sunday.
Rupp, a retired oilman from Bay City, Mich., met renowned bloodstock agent Mike Ryan at the Yearling Sale at Keeneland in 2017 and hit it off. The head of Rupp Racing eventually asked Ryan to pick out a horse for him and that keen eye came up with Owendale for $200,000. After winning the Oklahoma Derby, capturing the $240,000 first-place share of the purse, Owendale’s lifetime earnings are now $958,725. Nice profit from that decision to talk to Ryan, especially after only four years in the business as an owner.
Jockey Florent Geroux came from eighth in the early going and didn’t make the lead until the stretch when he passed 40-1 longshot Sleepy Eyes Todd, 35-1 longshot Chess Chief and 4-5 wagering favorite Mucho Gusto, out of hall of fame trainer Bob Baffert’s barn. Owendale, trained by Brad Cox, drew off to a 1-3/4 lengths victory at 2-1 odds. Owendale ran the 1-1/8 miles in 1:49.29 seconds over a fast track. It was the first win for both Geroux and Cox in the Oklahoma Derby.
“He’s a wonderful horse,” Geroux said. “I wanted to make sure he was not too wide down the backstretch, so I found a nice cozy spot to wait. I was keeping my eye on Mucho Gusto because I knew he was the horse to beat.”
Sleepy Eyes Todd held on for second and was a neck ahead of third-place Chess Chief, who was a head in front of Mucho Gusto, who could only manage fourth place in the three-horse photo for second. The remaining order of finish for the derby, with a field of 10, was Bankit, Funny Guy, Long Range Toddy, Cairo Cat, Drifting West and View Magic.
Owendale, was close to going to the Kentucky Derby this year, winning the Grade 3 Lexington Stakes at Keeneland on April 13, but the horse’s assistant trainer Ricky Giannini said he didn’t have enough points going into the Lexington to qualify for the Run for the Roses, and that turnaround after winning the Lexington would have been a little quick. So the colt was sent to the Preakness Stakes instead in Maryland and he came close to pulling off the upset. War of Will beat him by 1-1/4 lengths in the second leg of the Triple Crown. At that point the connections of Owendale knew they had something special.
“He just keeps getting better and better,” said Rupp. “All the thanks go to Brad Cox and (his brother), Blake Cox, Ricky and the whole crew.”
Owendale paid $6.20 to win, $3.80 to place and $2.80 to show. In winning the Oklahoma Derby from post-position 10, he becomes the second horse to win the race after leaving the gate, joining Golden Yank from 2008.
Owendale showed how talented he is by cutting into the slow fractions set by the pace-setting Sleepy Eyes Todd. He was able to make his winning move despite the 23.95 seconds for the first quarter-mile, 48.03 by the half mile and 1:12.32 for six furlongs. The mile time was 1:36.29.
Owendale, combined with the bomb of Sleepy Eyes Todd in second, the exacta paid $192 on a $2 exacta play. With Chess Chief in third at boxcar prices, the 50-cent trifecta paid $341.60. With the heavy favorite Mucho Gusto fourth, the 10-cent superfecta was worth $253.39.
Owendale was bred in Kentucky by Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, LLC. He is a 3-year-old colt by Into Mischief from the Bernardini mare Aspen Light. The score in the Oklahoma Derby is the fifth win from 12 starts for Owendale who also won the Grade 3, $500,000 Ohio Derby at Thistledown outside of Cleveland in June.