For the second time in the last six runnings of the Oklahoma Derby, three horses hit the wire together noses apart, this time with 44-1 long shot How Did He Do That splitting hairs to win the Grade 3, $400,000 race Sunday night at Remington Park.
How Did He Do That, Red Route One (5-1) and Tumbarumba (6-1) all had their photo taken at the wire like lifelong friends in a vacation selfie. They were that close together. The same thing happened in 2018 when Lone Sailor won the Oklahoma Derby by a nose over Believe in Royalty, who was another nose ahead of Diamond King in third.
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This year it was How Did He Do That, a rare long shot from the barn of North America’s winningest trainer Steve Asmussen, who got his nose down at the finish line just ahead of Red Route One, who was another nose in front of Tumbarumba.
HOW DID HE DO THAT ($91.20)?
By a nose in the $400,000 Oklahoma Derby (G3) at @RemingtonPark! Stewart Elliott never gave up as Red Route One came charging up between! This colt was trained by Steve Asmussen owners for J. Kirk and Judy Robison! Congrats to the Connections! ?? pic.twitter.com/vVNEHdLsf2— TVG (@TVG) September 25, 2023
Here’s the difference in those noses. How Did He Do That won $240,000 for first, Red Route One $80,000 for second and Tumbarumba $44,000 for third. Two noses were worth $196,000 more to Tumbarumba, if he had managed to get the win instead of third.
How Did He Do That, a 3-year-old son of Good Magic out of the Storm Cat mare Stormin Maggy, was locally stabled by Asmussen at Remington Park, where his assistant trainer Darren Fleming handled him. The local horse beat not only the two shippers by noses but also the 4-5 wagering favorite Hit Show, the fifth-place finisher in this year’s Kentucky Derby. Hit Show never could overcome his outside post, the 12 hole after scratches, and raced well wide around both turns in the 1 1/8-mile race. He could do no better than sixth when all was said and done.
Stewart Elliott, the leading jockey by 16 wins this season at Remington Park, was rather nonchalant after suffering through the photo and also an objection claimed by Jesus Castañón, the rider of Groveland.
“What can I say?” Elliott said. “I just kept asking (How Did He Do That) to keep his position, and every time I asked, he responded.”
In the objection, Castañón claimed he was hit on both sides by the winner and the fifth-place finisher Cagliostro near the top of the stretch.
After review by the Oklahoma Horse Racing Commission stewards, steward Víctor Escobar explained that according to the category 1 racing rules followed in Oklahoma, a disqualification was not allowed, because Groveland, the horse who was bothered, didn’t make up enough ground after the contact to warrant consideration that he would have had a better result than the eighth place he managed.
When asked about the photo and whether he knew he had won, Elliott was certain.
“I thought we won it,” Elliott said.
Elliott knew How Did He Do That could run when he watched him win the Iowa Derby on July 8. Elliott rode the third-place finisher in that race, Heroic Move, who lost by a half-length. How Did He Do That and One In Vermillion finished in a dead-heat for the win in Iowa.
The Oklahoma Derby was a tough test for the winner since runner-up Red Route One had won the West Virginia Derby (G3) by three lengths at Mountaineer Park and the Bath House Stakes at Oaklawn.
For owners Kirk and Judy Robison of El Paso, Texas, How Did He Do That improved to 14: 4-1-3 for a bankroll of $562,563.
How Did He Do That also made Oklahoma Derby history as the longest shot to finish first, paying $91.20 for the highest win payout in the 35 years of the race. He returned $23.80 to place and $13.20 to show.
The victory was the first for the Robisons in the Oklahoma Derby and the first for Elliott. The triumph gave Asmussen, a national and Oklahoma hall-of-fame conditioner, his second win in the race. He saddled Untrapped to the victory in 2017.
The rest of the field finished with Raise Cain (8-1), Cagliostro (9-2), Hit Show (4-5), Heroic Move (19-1), Groveland (67-1), Gunflash (115-1), Ghost Hero (48-1), Pearl’s Earl (167-1) and Mor Lana Spirit (166-1) fourth through 12th in that order.
How Did He Do That had a winning time of 1:50.34 over the fast track, racing as a duo on the front end with early pacesetter Ghost Hero. The only difference was one won the race, and the other tired badly and beat only two horses. The pair set fractions of 23.57, 48.05, 1:12.21 and 1:37.55. Ghost Hero finally gave up the fight in the final turn.
How Did He Do That was bred in Kentucky by Barbara Banke’s Stonestreet Thoroughbred Holdings, and he was purchased for $190,000 at the Fasig-Tipton Keeneland sale in October 2021.
It was a good day for the winner’s sire Good Magic, who also produced the winner of the Kip Deville Stakes on the undercard in Good Like Magic. When he competed, Good Magic won the Blue Grass (G2) and Haskell (G1) and ran second to Triple Crown winner Justify in the 2018 Kentucky Derby.