Rowdy Yates kept his record clean at Remington Park with his second stakes win in a row. Next stop: looking for 2020 Kentucky Derby points in the closing night $400,000 Springboard Mile for 2-year-olds on Dec. 15.
On Friday night, Rowdy Yates proved to be the class of the field in the $75,000 Don McNeill Memorial Stakes, winning by 4 3/4 lengths, and it probably should have been an even greater margin. This 2-year-old colt by Morning Line, out of the Yes It’s True mare Spring Station, was blocked behind horses when he wanted to make his move in the one-mile race and had to wait to pull clear. Jockey Richard Eramia finally pulled him wide in mid-stretch, when the juvenile colt found another gear.
The 1-5 favorite, Rowdy Yates won like an odds-on choice should, covering the mile in 1:39.59 seconds in the race for Oklahoma-bred 2-year-olds.
“We were waiting and waiting, but we had a lot of horse left,” Eramia said. “When he did get clear, it was clean sailing. Good horses do everything good.”
Rowdy Yates is trained by leading conditioner Steve Asmussen for L and N Racing of Tulsa, Okla. That conglomerate is made up of Lee Levinson, his son Mike, and their friend, Don Nelson.
“My buddy and his son know how to pick horses,” said Nelson.
Kirkcules ran second to Rowdy Yates and was a half-length ahead of the second favorite in the field, at 5-2 odds, Fly to the Bank who was third.
The interior fractions for the race were not swift, so it was not a simple task for Rowdy Yates to catch the early leaders after the tough first half mile. They went the opening quarter mile in :24.71 seconds, the half mile in :49.33 seconds and six furlongs in 1:14.64. The seven-furlong time was 1:27.21. By then, Rowdy Yates had taken over.
Rowdy Yates paid $2.40 to win, $2.10 to place and $2.10 to show. Rowdy Yates was bred in Oklahoma by Tracy Strachan. Lee Levinson said he was given a tip on this horse at the Fasig-Tipton Sale at Keeneland in Kentucky in 2018. He spent $42,000 to get him despite his suspect breeding, and so far it has paid off. It was the first win in this race for all the connections.
“We thought we could have won the Bashford Manor,” said Lee Levinson. “And hopefully we can the Springboard, too.”
On the national scene, Rowdy Yates has run second by three-quarters of a length in that Grade 3 stakes at Churchill Downs and fifth to the Breeders’ Cup Juvenile favorite, Dennis’ Moment, in the Iroquois Stakes (G3), also at Churchill.
Through six career races, Rowdy Yates has four victories and one second-place effort. He picked up $45,000 for his score in the McNeill, moving his overall earnings to $210,898.
The Don McNeill Stakes is named in honor of the late owner and breeder who was so prominent in Oklahoma-bred racing, represented by many talented horses including top Oklahoma-breds Clever Trevor and Mr. Ross, as well as 2011 Breeders’ Cup Dirt Mile winner Caleb’s Posse.