2013/14 a season to remember at Portland Meadows
The curtain fell on the 2013/14 racing season at Portland Meadows on Sunday when Hock crossed the wire to win the final race of the season. From opening day to Portland Mile Day to Oregon Championship Day to closing day and everything in between, there were many memories made on the track and in the stands.
Opening day on July 21st kicked off the 67th season of racing at Portland Meadows with Picture Me Rolln and jockey Ruben Camacho taking the first race of the meet. Thousands of racing fans poured through the doors on that afternoon and throughout the summer season. With the glorious weather and comfortable outdoor seating on the apron, the Finish Line Restaurant or the huge outdoor Beer-B-Q tent, a day at Portland Meadows was a perfect way to spend a Portland summer day.
August brought the start of a new wager at Portland Meadows, the $0.25 Pick 5. The wager carried a low 15% takeout rate and was an instant favorite among bettors. The sequence produced seven carryovers during the season and ten times it paid over $1,000 for just a $0.25 play.
This summer marked the start of Portland Meadows Gate To Wire, a weekly thirty-minute ‘magazine style’ television show on Comcast Sportsnet Northwest. Twelve episodes brought fans behind the scenes features on jockeys, trainers, breeders and many of the other people and personalities that make horse racing at Portland Meadows so special.
Labor Day brought us the $38,700 Portland Mile and saw a huge performance by Crew Leader and jockey Debbie Hoonan as they turned in a scintillating performance. Crew Leader (Pictured at right) earned a 98 Beyer Speed Figure for the effort and it was one of the 10 fastest figures earned by any horse in the country over the Labor Day weekend, which is one of the busiest racing weekend’s of the year and includes racing from Saratoga, Del Mar, and the other top tracks around the country. With the Inaugural Portland Meadows BBQ Cook Off going on, Portland Meadows opened up the infield to racing fans who enjoyed a totally new way to experience the races as well as some delicious BBQ. All told racing fans pushed through $127,105 in wagers on-track, which was more on-track handle than any single day in recent memory. In fact it was almost exactly double the on-track handle of last year’s Portland Mile Day. All-sources handle was up 207.3% for 2013 Portland Mile Day compared to the 2012 edition.
It was a great year for Quarter Horse racing at Portland Meadows. Flyin Lion turned into a star and won both the Oregon Fall Derby as well as the Autumn Handicap as part of a perfect 4 for 4 season at Portland Meadows. Flyin Lion set a new track record for 400 yards with her win in the Autumn Handicap, completing the distance in 19.749 seconds. Aloha Sweetheart took home the Far West Futurity for young up and coming Quarter Horse jockey Jordan Hadley. Oregon-bred runner Thinkin of Girls took home the $28,500 Baxter Andruss Futurity. Jockey Joe Crispin took home the Quarter Horse riding title with 15 wins, while Juan Sanguino dominated both the owner (6 wins) and trainer standings (13).
Back in 2013 were the claiming series’ that have become very popular over the last few seasons. From October 9th through December 4th, every Wednesday featured claiming series action from either the City of Roses Filly and Mare Sprint Claiming Series, the McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series, or the OHBPA Route Claiming Series.
Chelsea’s Flame finished sixth in the 1st leg of the City of Roses Filly and Mare Sprint Claiming Series and was purchased after that by owner/trainer James Young after that effort privately for just $500. She improved to a second place finish in the 2nd leg and capped off the series with a wire-to-wire score in the $15,000 Final.
The McFadden Memorial Sprint Claiming Series was the most popular series at the entry box, with 35 horses competing in the 1st leg, which was spread out over four divisions. Ezinmotion was fourth in his 1st effort and then third in the 2nd leg. He wasn’t claimed out of either heat and responded in the Final with a big score in the $15,000 Final for owner/trainer Pablo De Jesus.
While no horses swept through either of the Sprint Claiming Series’, Swiss Exploit was able to run the table as he won all three legs of the OHBPA Route Claiming Series, including a crushing win in the $15,000 Final when he won by five lengths. Trainer Jonathan Nance claimed him for $3,200 out of Leg 2 and brought him right back for a solid win in the Final.
Oregon Championship Day always celebrates the best in Oregon racing and this year the big day showcased the best Oregon-breds around. Maddie’s Gold and Jet Set Kitten both romped in the Bill Wineberg and Janet Wineberg Stakes respectively for two year olds. Middas Gold Touch won a hard fought battle with Calypsonoted to take home the win the Lethal Grande Oregon Sprint Championship. Jack The Pirate (Pictured at right) turned in the biggest win on the day and the year, as he drew off to win the Oregon His Stakes by an incredible eighteen and a half lengths.
Trainer Jim Fergason took home another trainer title here at Portland Meadows as he sent out 34 winners during the 49 day meet. Rigoberto Velasquez (24), Nick Lowe (23), Jonathan Nance (22) and Sam Dronen (21) rounded out the top five in the Thoroughbred training standings.
The top of the rider’s standings was kind of like a game of musical chairs this season. Lorenzo Lopez got off to a fast start and was the leading rider for the first few weeks of the year. Jockey Jorge Rosales got hot during the late part of the summer and found himself atop the standings for quite a while. Multiple Portland Meadows jockey title winner Joe Crispin forged to a narrow lead as the season got into November and December. And after riding only sparingly at Portland Meadows early on in the meet, jockey Eliska Kubinova surged late and finished the season with 55 wins to top the standings, winning her first career riding title. Leonel Camacho-Flores (49), Joe Crispin (45), Jorge Rosales (39) and Javier Matias (35) rounded out the top five in the Thoroughbred riding standings.
Art McFadden and Howard Belvoir shared the owning title for Thoroughbreds with 9 winners each.
As the season wound down, Maddie’s Gold asserted himself as the top younger horse on the grounds as he scored a big six-length win in the $25,000 Oregon Derby, topping Jet Set Kitten in the process.
It was quite the season and Portland Meadows hopes to see everyone back in the summer of 2014 when live racing resumes.