Walcott lands biggest career win
OKLAHOMA CITY – Barbadian Rico Walcott landed the biggest win of his career when he combined with 3-1 bet Broadway Empire to upset the field in the Grade 3 US$400 000 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park on Sunday.
He broke the three-year-old bay gelding sharply, sent him to the front, and proceeded to make all the running in the trip over a mile and one-eighth (about 1 800 metres), reaching the wire four lengths clear in a time of one minute, 49.44 seconds.
Hot favourite Departing, with top American jockey Robby Albarado aboard, was beaten into fourth while 9-1 chance Cameo Appearance was second and 22-1 longshot Carve finished third as Broadway Empire won his fourth of six career races – all as a 3-year-old.
“He just dragged me up to the lead,” Walcott said afterward. “I got him eased up down the backside and was just cruising and sitting as long as I could.
“Coming into the homestretch, I asked him, and he picked it up and ran down the lane pretty good for me and finished up, and felt like he could go a little more, because the last race, he ran a mile and three-eighths.”
The victory marked the fifth added money win of the month for Walcott after he captured the $150 000 Grade 3 British Columbia Derby, the $100 000 Speed to Spare Stakes, the $50 000 Delta Colleen Handicap and the $50 000 Alberta Breeders Handicap in recent weeks.
Walcott was also aboard Broadway Empire in his last outing when he destroyed the field in the Grade 3 $200 000 Canadian Derby at Northlands Park, back in August.
“He’s a little full of himself. He likes to act up a little bit on the post parade and want to buck and stuff. But I like him. He’s a class horse,” added Walcott.
Perhaps harbouring similar thoughts, Walcott swept the gelding to the front from the outset, cracking the quarter-mile in a crisp 23.29 seconds and the half-mile in 46.71 seconds, from along the rails.
Carve tracked from second with Cameo Appearance in third, as He Has Bling and Departing hovered in mid-pack. Walcott hustled a lively Broadway Empire through the final turn and set him down for the drive, opening up a five-length lead with a mile to run.
Broadway Empire then dominated the final yards, crossing the line unchallenged to win handsomely.
The owners earned US$240 000 for the win, more than doubling the horse’s previous career earnings of $166 745.
The victory underlines a stellar season for Walcott, who is on course for a third straight riding title at Northlands Park in Edmonton, Alberta, where he is based.
Currently, he is the runaway leader with 133 wins, 65 clear of the second-placed Amie Pooli in the season which ends on October 14. (KP)