OKLAHOMA CITY – Mr. Misunderstood won graded stakes on the turf at Churchill Downs twice, but he couldn’t match the late charge of 9-1 outsider Space Mountain down the stretch in the $100,000 Remington Green on Sunday.
Both horses are graduates of Kentucky Downs' racing program. Space Mountain was third in the $250,000 Old Friends Stakes for owner Michael Hui and trainer Mike Maker, who teamed to win the $1 million Calumet Farm Kentucky Turf Cup at the meet. Mr. Misunderstood ran in the $750,000 Tourist Mile the past two years, finishing third in 2018 and off the board this year.
Mr. Misunderstood had finished a couple of lengths in front of Space Mountain in the Kentucky Downs Preview Tourist Mile Stakes at Ellis Park on Aug. 4, but the switch to 1-1/8 miles in Oklahoma City was enough for the latter horse to turn the tables. Space Mountain, a 6-year-old gelded son of Street Cry (IRE), out of the Storm Cat mare Magical Ride, got the better of the 5-2 wagering favorite Sunday, winning by a half-length.
Owned by Hooties Racing and Michael Hui of Fayetteville, Ark., Space Mountain is trained by Michael Maker, a training title winner at Churchill Downs in 2016 and a 21-time winning seasonal trainer at Thistledown outside of Cleveland. Jockey Ramon Vazquez was in the saddle for the win.
“I wanted to take him back and make one move,” said Vazquez of his game plan for the race. “I knew there was a lot of speed in the race to set it up for me. When I asked him to run, he responded to me.”
Mr. Misunderstood had won the Grade 2 Wise Dan Stakes at Churchill Downs on June 16 of last year, going 1-1/16th miles on the turf, and then followed that up with Grade 3 River City Handicap at Churchill on Nov. 17, going 1-1/8 miles greensward. The Brad Cox trainee made a run from well back to gain for second but was unable to catch Space Mountain who maintained his momentum off the final turn throughout the stretch run. Keep Quiet (FR) finished third, 1-3/4 lengths behind the winner.
The remaining order of finish in the field of 12 for the Remington Green included: Turbo Street, winner of the race in both 2017 and 2018, fourth, followed by Tiz Plus, Blue Harbor, In The Navy, Lookin At Lee, Popularity, Redatory, One Son Of A Chief and Net Gain.
Space Mountain’s generous odds returned $20.60 to win, $7.20 to place and $4.80 to show. He was bred in Kentucky by G. Watts Humphrey, Jr., & St. George Farm. Running time for the winner was 1:47.45 seconds over the firm going. Space Mountain managed to close from 10th in the early stages of the Remington Green to pass most of the field on his way to victory. Popularity set the early pace of :23.71 seconds for the first quarter-mile,: 47.73 by the half-mile and three-quarters of a mile in 1:11.41 before giving up the advantage. Space Mountain was in front for the one mile fraction of at 1:35.93.
Space Mountain earned $60,000 for the win and improved his racing record to 30 starts, six wins, three seconds and two thirds for a bankroll of $339,130.
It was the second win for Maker in this race, who also won the 2016 Remington Green with Taghleeb for Hui. Vazquez made it to the winner’s circle for the first time in this stakes race.
Photo: Dustin Orona Photography