-photo by Sandra Beck/Coady Photography
A Toast To Lightning

-photo by Sandra Beck/Coady Photography
A Toast To Lightning

-photo by Sandra Beck/Coady Photography

A Toast to Lightning Captures the $14,500 Sugar Land Stakes at SHRP and Ties a Record for Trainer Janet Van Bebber

Houston, Texas (October 16, 2004) - A Toast to Lightning put a smile on trainer Janet Van Bebber's face tonight in more ways than one. The 3-year-old filly won the first stakes of her career as she captured the $14,500 Sugar Land Stakes tonight at Sam Houston Race Park. The victory was the 58th of the meeting for Van Bebber, tying her previous record of wins for a meeting, set in 2001.

Owned by Jackie Sessions of Jacksonville in East Texas, A Toast to Lightning won an allowance race here on September 10 with rider John Hamilton aboard. Hamilton had the return call tonight and his filly responded by closing powerfully and winning the 400-yard stakes in a time of :20.131.

" This filly is wonderful," said Van Bebber. "She has gotten a little bit better each time we start her. She didn't have the best of circumstances in her Challenge race at Delta, but she has continued to respond and improve since then. I'm real appreciative that the Sessions' have allowed me the opportunity to do what I felt what was in the filly's best interest. It's always nice to tie a record winning a stakes."

Vital Jewel, with Jacky Martin in the irons, ran second, just a neck behind the winner.

"My filly left right there on the lead and I would have made the lead a little ways but the other horse just came harder and outran us," said Martin. "This was my first time riding her, my first time ever seeing her, really. She handled really well for a three-year-old against those older horses. She ran a really good race."

Katrina Duncan, owned by Cedar Creek Ranch, Inc., will represent Texas in the $75,000 Professional's Choice Challenge on November 6 at Sam Houston Race Park, ran third.

"She is a tough filly and still a maiden," said rider Arturo Carillo. "She left strong and led most of the way, they just caught us at the end."

Sessions has several horses that have qualified for the MBNA America Challenge Championships.

"We really enjoy the MBNA Challenge program," said Sessions. "We love to participate and look forward to returning on November 6."

A Toast to Lightning, sent off at 3-1, paid $8.60, $5.40 and $4.20 across the board. The 9-7 exacta paid $68.40 and the trifecta returned $1,528.20. The favorite, Sr Razzmatazz, finished seventh.

Hadtobenuts is the Fastest Qualifier in Trials for the $367,874 Texas Classic Derby

In earlier action, Hadtobenuts, owned by Marilyn and James E. Helzer, was the fastest qualifier in trials for the $367,874 Texas Classic Derby. Trained by Heath Taylor, Hadtobenuts won the first of the five trials on tonight's card. He crossed the wire of the 440-yard trial in :21.676 under regular rider Gilbert Ortiz. The 3-year-old colt made his last start at Ruidoso Downs where he ran third in the Grade 1 All American Derby on September 5.

"Hadtobenuts ran a good race tonight," commented Taylor. "You never know how they will handle the heat and humidity here after being at Ruidoso. I'm pretty tickled with how all three are doing."

Taylor qualified two other runners for the Texas Classic Derby final which will be run on Breeders' Cup day, Saturday, October 30. Sixes Royal was the second fastest qualifier (:21.737) and Fredricksburg (:21.880).

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