OKLAHOMA CITY - Golden Yank ended an 8-race losing streak by pulling away in the stretch to win the $350,000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sunday.
Ridden by Jamie Theriot, the Kentucky-bred son of Yankee Gentleman, won by 1¾ lengths over favorite Tiz Now Tiz Then. Golden Yank won the 1 1-8 mile race on a fast track in 1:50.47.
The gelding, trained by Gary Thomas and owned by Millard R. Seldin of Omaha, Neb., became the second horse in two years to win the Oklahoma Derby a year after winning Remington Park's top race for 2-year-olds, the Remington MEC Mile. Going Ballistic completed that double last year.
Snug and Acting Zippy led the 12-horse field for the first three-quarters of a mile as Theriot bided his time aboard Golden Yank in the middle of the pack. Once Theriot made his move, he passed the tiring leaders and was not challenged.
Tiz Now Tiz Then, trained by Eoin Harty, closed for second under jockey Miguel Mena, while Acting Zippy held on for third.
Golden Yank paid $8.40, $3.80 and $3.20. Tiz Now Tiz Then returned $3.20 and $2.40, while Acting Zippy paid $6.60.
Two of the nation's top trainers, Steve Asmussen and Todd Pletcher, fared poorly in the race. Pletcher's Crimson Comic finished sixth, while Asmussen's trio of Fire Brewed, Face the Cat and Ablaze With Spirit ended up eighth, ninth and 11th, respectively.
Golden Yank had a strong 2-year-old season, winning his first three races. But in his finale as a 2-year-old, he ran into trouble in the $1 million Delta Jackpot at Delta Downs and finished third by a neck to Z Humor and Turf War, who dead-heated.
Thomas and Seldin put Golden Yank on the Kentucky Derby trail as a 3-year-old, but the horse finished fourth in the Rebel Stakes and seventh in the Arkansas Derby, both Grade 2 races at Oaklawn Park. Then came a seventh-place finish in the Grade 3 Lone Star Derby in May.
Golden Yank finished second, second, third and fourth in his next four starts, none for purses less than $100,000. He entered the Oklahoma Derby off a fourth-place run in the Grade 2 Super Derby at Louisiana Downs on Sept. 20.
Throughout the losing streak, Seldin said he and Thomas never worried that Golden Yank would someday return to the winner's circle, particularly at Remington Park, where he's 3-for-3 lifetime. Overall, Golden Yank has won 4 of his 12 career starts.
The winning purse of $210,000 raised Golden Yank's career earnings to $593,516.
Golden Yank was only Thomas' second Oklahoma Derby starter, even though the trainer has been in the thoroughbred industry for decades. In 1986, he saddled Rampage, who won the Arkansas Derby and finished fourth in the Kentucky Derby behind Ferdinand.
In this year's $125,000 Remington MEC Mile, 11-1 shot Kick On, ridden by Mena, won by six lengths over Marquee Event. Kick On, trained by Joe Petalino and owned by Baccari Racing of Lexington, Ky., is a Florida-bred son of Wiseman's Ferry. He covered the 1 mile, 70 yards in 1:42.90.
Theriot also rode Steve's Double, the winner in the $125,000 Remington Green turf race for 3-year-olds and up. Steve's Double, trained by Ronny Werner, won by 1¼ lengths over Distorted Reality. The winning time in the 1 1-16-mile race on firm turf was 1:43.95.