Twenty-one times trainer Steve Asmussen entered a horse for the Oklahoma Derby at Remmington Park.  And, 21 times, he walked back to the jockey’s room with his losing rider talking about what might have been.

On Sunday night, Asmussen saddled his 22nd starter in the state’s biggest race.  And, for the first time, he got to walk to the winner’s circle.  With winning owner Michael Langford by his side, Asmussen stood in the winner’s circle and waited on his top 3-year-old Untrapped to join him for a celebration that he has waited so long to celebrate.

“Remmington Park has been so important to us.  It was the first track where we won a trainer’s title.  We tried so many years to winning the (Oklahoma) Derby, and we finally got one,” said Asmussen, as he was interviewed by the track’s television crew after the race.

Langford, who hails from Jonesboro, Ark., was just has happy. “To be honest, when Ricky (jockey Ricardo Santana) made his move to the outside, I was wondering if we should have stayed on the inside,” said Langford, “but he knows this horse so well and he rode such a wonderful race. He knew what he was doing. It was just great to see and watch.  I was more excited than he (Santana) was.”

And, that was pretty exciting.  As the tandem of Untrapped and Santana neared the wire, the jockey nearly leaped out of the saddle Frankie Dettori style.  But it was still a length or two from the wire.

Finishing second, about a length and a half back, in second was racetime favorite, Battle of Midway, who briefly took the lead about 1/8th of a mile from home before giving in to the winner. Back in third was Gato Del Oro.  Colonelsdarktemper, winner of the West Virgina Derby, was fourth.

“This is a big honor,” said Asmussen. “I think Ricky did a great job.  He broke alertly, and he went ahead and got him a really good spot early one.  Then, he just kind of sat there, just off the pace, and found a good running spot until they turned for home.  Once he got him a bit outside, he just took off.

“We came into this race really confident,” Asmussen said. “We gave him a little time off and backed off of him a bit. But he really had a couple of nice works coming into this one and he trained with one of ours that ran earlier on the card and when that one ran good, we really started to feel good about our chances. He ran great.”

Truly, Untrapped did run great.  The best he ran all year.  After breaking his maiden at Churchill Downs last fall, Untrapped had run 7 times this year. All, without a victory.

He had run well in some tough spots and against some good horses, but never tasting the finish line first or the glory of the winner’s circle.  He had run second in the Lecompte Stakes and the Rebel Stakes at The Fairgrounds.  He had run third in the Rebel Stakes at Oaklawn Park.

But after a sixth in the Arkansas Derby and a full 12th in the Kentucky Derby, Asmussen went back to the drawing board.  They did team up to run third in the Ohio and Indiana Derbies, but Asmussen slowly backed off the gas.  After running third in the Indiana Derby on July 15, he didn’t see the entry box again until Sunday night.

The break seemed to help.  As soon as the gate opened, Santana and Untrapped moved to the front of the back and held a nice running position. They sat chilly behind the front -runners until the turn from home.  At that time, Battle of Midway — who was third in the Kentucky Derby and coming into this one fresh off an impressive win in the Shared Belief Stakes at Del Mar — pressed toward the lead and looked to be headed toward the wire.  At the 1/8th pole, rider Flavien Prat and Battle of Midway were in front.

It was then that Santana moved Untrapped off the rail towards the middle of the track.  At asking, he breezed past the favorite and onto an easy and impressive win.

“This is one race that we always wanted to win,” said Asmussen.  “Now that we have one, maybe we can get a lot more.”