Will Rogers Downs’ fall racing season concludes

12/03/2020 01:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
Jess My Hocks was selected as the 2020 fall Horse of the Meet. His three wins include a trial and finals victory in the AQHA Derby Challenge at Will Rogers Downs and a win at the Derby Challenge Championship in Albuquerque, New Mexico. COURTESY
CLAREMORE – The 2020 American Quarter Horse Association racing season has concluded for the 11th consecutive year at Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs.

The 28-day meet featuring AQHA, Appaloosa and Paint stakes races offered $2.4 million in overnight purses with races posting at noon each day.

More than $5.7 million was wagered both on and off the track, an increase of 105% from the 2019 fall meet.

“As we wrap up another successful meet at Will Rogers Downs, we’re proud to have done so safely with diligent protocols in place and adherence to CDC guidelines,” John Lies, Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs racing secretary and track, said. “We completed a good meet this fall, and horsemen competed for opportunities similar to what they’d seen here in recent years. That alone was a tremendous accomplishment amidst the ongoing pandemic.”

Racing was open to the public, guided by Cherokee Nation Businesses’ Responsible Hospitality plan, which features enhanced cleaning and safety protocols and the use of face masks throughout the property.

Jess My Hocks, a 3-year-old gelding by Kiss My Hocks, was selected as the 2020 Horse of the Meet. His three wins include a trial and finals victory in the AQHA Derby Challenge and a win at the AQHA Derby Challenge Championship in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The sorrel gelding earned $184,995 for owners Tom and Kathleen McNally and trainer Michelle Hurdle.

Jockey Daniel Torres rode 40 winners at the meet to earn 2020 Jockey of the Meet honors, with seven more wins than runner-up and 2019 titleholder Justine Klaiber. Torres rode 31 Quarter Horse winners and nine mixed winners to receive top honors, while Klaiber rode 27 Quarter Horse and six mixed winners.

Trainer Eddie D. Willis earned the 2020 leading trainer buckle, a repeat of his 2018 and 2019 accomplishment. His barn earned 21 wins, 15 seconds and 21 thirds from 107 runners, edging out runner-up trainer Carlos Ruiz by three victories.

Owner Felipe Martinez-Morales earned Leading Owner honors with six wins and two seconds from just 13 starters at the fall meet.

Cherokee Casino Will Rogers Downs is located 3 miles east of Claremore on Highway 20. For information, visit www.cherokeecasino.com and click on the Will Rogers Downs tab, or call 918-283-8800.


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