CLAREMORE, OK – The 2021 spring thoroughbred racing season has concluded at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs with a year-over-year increase in handle for the horse racing track compared to 2019. More than $22 million was handled on and off the track, up from $16.8 million in 2019. The average total handle per day increased from 2019’s $676,000 to $778,000 for 2021.
“Will Rogers Downs completed a successful season that faced challenges, including a historic freeze in mid-February that set horses back in their preparations for the meet,” said John Lies, Racing Secretary and Track Announcer for Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs. “We were glad to see momentum build through the spring and produce comparable results to pre-pandemic meets.”
Lady Orchid, a 5-year-old mare by Oratory bred in Oklahoma, was named “Horse of the Meet” after winning two stakes races while defending her crown in capturing the More Than Even Stakes in consecutive years on closing day. Trained by Francisco Bravo for owner and breeder Lori Bravo, Lady Orchid’s lifetime record now stands at eight wins, three seconds and one third from 15 lifetime starts and $298,991 in career earnings.
Jockey of the Meet accolades were awarded to Floyd Wethey Jr. from his 50 wins and a 32% win clip with agent Bubba Wood. He rode 15 more winners than second-leading rider Alfredo Triana Jr. with 35, while Curtis Kimes saw his meet cut short by injury and finished third with 34 victories.
Trainer Scott Young earned 2021 leading trainer honors from his 25 wins, 17 seconds and 13 thirds, while winning at 27%. He defeated trainer Steve Williams by just two wins, though Williams easily reported home as leading owner while winning 20 races with his own stock – 13 wins more than the second leading owner, Bryan Hawk.
In 2020, the track received spectators from around the globe as one of the few in the world to continue racing without spectators during the COVID-19 pandemic. With limited tracks open, this created a move to an international audience for the otherwise nationally broadcast facility, which saw a record $131 million handled on and off the track.