OKLAHOMA CITY, OKLAHOMA -- He was one of the first trainers to move into the barns at Remington Park. Chuck Turco's dusty steps walk past a long line of race horses that stretches back more than twenty years, and which lead forward to the latest, to a horse he calls Joe.
"Mornin' Joe," says Chuck as he enters stall number 11. "He's 3 years old now. He handles himself so well you don't notice how big he is until you get next to him and then you go, Jeez."
Diamond Joe is his track name. He's a winner of 9 straight races. Chuck brought Joe down from Nebraska for the Oklahoma Derby. But look down a ways on Turco's like of horses and you'll find similar horse, another Oklahoma Derby winner from 1995 who happens to be Joe's father. "He was a horse called Dazzling Falls," says Turco. "He was a little more of a hell raiser than this guy is,"
Chuck's training string isn't exactly plumb. He moved away from Remington for a while. Turco was even out of racing altogether for a couple of years. But he never forgot what it took, or the horses who brought him so much succes here in Oklahoma.
If Diamond Joe is the latest the a horse named Highland Ice would have to be one of the first. He's 19 years old now but in his prime Ice was one of the best sprint horses around.
Oklahoma bred, he won the annual classics sprint race at Remington 5 years in a row. Highland Ice has it easy now as part of the Oklahoma Thoroughbred Retirement Program.
He's getting a lot of attention in 2012 as the latest entry into Remington Park's Hall of Fame. Chuck says, "The trait that all 3 of them had is they know how to win."
The Thursday before a Sunday race day found Chuck back at the track to find out where Joe would run in the 2012 Derby. The marble came up for the number one position. It wasn't the draw he hoped for but Chuck told us he'd take it. "If you're going to be on the inside. If you're going to be in the 2 or 3 position you might as well be in the number 1," he said.
In that long line of horses, fast and slow take their place in history. For the 2012 Oklahoma Derby the old man, the father, and the son all came together. The man who trained all 3 horses couldn't have been happier.
Turco's Sunday could have gone a little better though. Diamond Joe finished out of the money in an Oklahoma Derby race won by a horse named Politicallycorrect.