- Associated Press - Monday, May 9, 2016

OKLAHOMA CITY (AP) - More than seven years ago, Oklahoma Quarter Horse Association Executive Director Debbie Schauf sought an extreme measure to bring more people to Remington Park.

Her plan worked, The Journal Record (http://bit.ly/1TuFFeM ) reports.

At Sunday’s extreme race day, 23,703 people visited to bet on quarter horses and watch zebras, camels and ostriches run.

Attendance had grown since the event’s start, reaching a record high of 26,639 people in 2013. The 2015 Kentucky Derby day at Remington had 18,000 spectators, and the 2015 Oklahoma Derby had 12,000.

The exotic animal races are held between quarter horse races. With high park attendance, the betting is high as well.

On Sunday, wagers totaled $136,500, which is up $100,000 from a regular quarter horse racing Sunday in 2015. It’s also $6,000 higher than last year’s extreme racing day. The quarter horse season wagers go into the quarter horse racing purse.

“This is the best quarter horse meet in the country,” Schauf said. The 12-week season is defined as the meet. “Any given entry day, we’ll have as many as 320 entries for 110 opportunities to race.”

This year’s average daily purse reached a new record at $300,000, an increase from $294,000 last year. Park announcer Dale Day said the amount has grown since the park added a casino, which benefits the winnings for thoroughbred and quarter horses. State statutes require that 25 percent of the casino profit goes to the state, 50 percent stays at the track, and the remaining 25 percent is split between the thoroughbred and quarter horse purses.

Day said extreme racing day also helps expose people to the park, which is especially important since new people are frequently moving to the metro.

“That day may bring people out for their one and only time each year,” he said. “Our idea is that it will help us down the line in the future to bring more people out.”

He said track staff try to change the event every year, especially with families attending annually. Two years ago, they named each race after a charity, and let those groups set up booths in the building. They also added the Express Ranch Clydesdales.

“Those horses are so big, it just looks like they’re not running when they come down the track,” Dale said.

While the zebras, camels and ostriches are at Remington for a day, the park doesn’t have to look far for its quarter horse competitors. Five of the top 10 stallions reside in Oklahoma, as well as some of the top mares, Schauf said.

People with Oklahoma-bred horses can win extra money if their horse places better than fifth place, so there is an additional incentive to return Oklahoma-bred horses to Remington.

Oklahoma-bred Jess Good Candy, a quarter horse, won the $3 million American Futurity race last year. On Sunday, he made his return to racing as a 3-year-old. The horse has now won all four of its starts, banking $1.5 million.

Jess Good Candy was bred by the late Carl Pevehouse.

“We have attracted all the best horses to come here and run, because of the purse money, and because of the Oklahoma-bred program,” she said.

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Information from: The Journal Record, http://www.journalrecord.com

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