Parlays are nothing new to Remington Park. In fact, it’s one of the most popular wagers when talking about the horse racing side of Oklahoma’s premier racetrack and casino.
This fall, however, Remington officials are betting on a different type of parlay they believe has the potential to help further promote their overall product on a national scale. Beginning in August ” the official start of the 2009 thoroughbred season is Aug. 21 ” the track officially will change its weekly racing schedule to Friday through Monday.
That’s right: Monday racing is coming to OKC, and will be simulcast to more than 600 different racetracks and offtrack betting parlors across the country.
General Manager Scott Wells and the Remington Park brain trust recently announced the decision to modify the usual Thursday through Sunday racing slate in hopes of seizing the opportunity to showcase their quality racing cards for a larger and relatively untapped audience.
“It’s kind of like where you display things on a grocery shelf: Optimum exposure is what it’s all about,” Wells said. “We just need to put ourselves out there and show off what we’ve got here at Remington Park. The quality of our racing has improved so much and we want racing fans everywhere to see it.”
So instead of going head-to-head against other venues such as New York’s Saratoga Racetrack on Thursdays, Remington Park will attempt to carve out its own little niche on a night historically reserved for “Monday Night Football” fanatics.
Wells and company certainly know what they are up against.
“Race fans and sports fans can come to Remington Park and have the best of both worlds. Besides the great horse racing, we’ll have TV sets showing the football game all over the place,” said Wells, who pointed out the Horseplayers Association of North America recently ranked Remington Park among the Top 3 North American racetracks. “We are eager to show off what we’ve got going on here as far as quality racing, and we feel moving to Mondays is going to be great for business.”
And business is already good.
In 2008, the venue set an all-time attendance record, as more than 1.5 million fans made their way to through the gates. So far this year, Remington is on pace to shatter last year’s mark.
Remington’s success comes despite financial issues suffered by its owner, the Canadian Magna Entertainment Corp., which filed last March for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection last spring, according to The Associated Press. The local track reportedly is on a list of potential properties that might be sold for debt relief.
With increasing attendance and racing purses continuing to increase thanks to casino revenue, Remington Park has already put itself back on the national map in a big way. That fact has not been lost on some of the nation’s top horse owners, trainers and jockeys, many of whom have expressed interest in racing there.
Even the owners of 2009 Kentucky Derby winner Mine That Bird are considering an invitation from Remington Park. But even if that does not happen, there will be plenty of other key contenders coming to town, including multiple horses expected to run in the Breeder’s Cup races later this year.
The real fun will get under way on Saturday of the opening weekend, when the $200,000 Remington Sprint Cup and the $100,000 Sprint for Fillies and Mares are expected to lure top horses from near and far. Less than 24 hours later, the $50,000 Clever Trevor Stakes will feature a quality field of 2-year-olds.
Training for the fall season actually began last week and a number of the horses are already onsite. That buzz has been heightened by the anticipated move to Monday night racing and the chance to earn more of the national spotlight.
“It’s always exciting to get the horses back in here for training, because that’s a sign a new racing season is almost here. Even more exciting is the level of talent we expect to have here over the next few months,” Wells said. “We’re taking it to a whole new level this fall.”
The track’s thoroughbred racing season continues through Dec. 14. “Jay C. Upchurch