Bold Bucephalus Scores Big in Graham Paint Futurity

(Saturday, October 25, 2003) - Bold Bucephalus, part of a favored entry from owners Charles Trochta and Sam Hester, turned in a powerhouse performance on Saturday night, taking the Grade 1, $100,000 Graham Paint Futurity by one measured length in front of a Breeders’ Cup day crowd of 8,717 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas.

“He slipped a little bit in the trial,” jockey Larry Payne said. “So I knew if he stood up there and got a good go at them, he’d be real tough on the end.”

This time, Bold Bucephalus got away on top from Post No. 9 and never looked back, though he did appear to lose focus after clearing the field in midstretch.

“I tapped him one time and he went right back to work for me and just drew off from them,” Payne said.

Bold Bucephalus finished in a tailwind-aided time of :17.84, three-hundredths of a second off the stakes record.

Bold Bucephalus became the fifth winner of this race sired by Texas Hero. The win was especially sweet for Hester, who bred and trains the horse.

“This baby, we raised him,” Hester said. “We owned his mother [Bold Aldebaran], a Quarter [Horse] mare. I always thought Texas Hero was a great horse. I tried to outrun him one time with a mare we have.”

The Graham Paint Futurity is restricted to progeny of breeder Herbert Graham’s five stallions. Nine of this year’s 10 finalists were sired by Texas Hero.

Bold Bucephalus paid $4.60 on a $2 win bet and earned the winner’s share of $52,091 in his first stakes appearance.

The other nine horses in the field all finished within one length of each other. Tushkas Texan pulled out the second-place finish, a neck ahead of Friona. The final order was completed by Town Painter, Ima Texas Rebel, Snafols Hero, Nee O Got See, Diamonds N Jets, fastest qualifier Shero and Ima Solid Hero.

Earlier on the card, odds-on favorite Gone Celebrating finished strong to take the Restricted Grade 3 Classic Chevrolet Heartbeat of America Handicap by a neck over classy veteran Turfinator. With Juan Vazquez in the saddle for trainer John Buchanan, the 4-year-old won his fourth consecutive stakes, covering the 350 yards in a swift :17.48.

Gone Celebrating broke alertly and rated just behind the early leaders before hitting his best stride late in the race.

“The first three hundred yards I thought we were going to have a hard time catching [Turfinator], but my horse made another gear,” Vazquez said.

Buchanan likewise was impressed with the way his horse finished.

“He ran a picture-perfect race,” the trainer said. “He started to draw out on the end. He just likes to win and he’s gotten really good at it. Our horse is really on top of his game right now and he doesn’t make many mistakes. He just likes what he’s doing.”

Past Lone Star Park stakes winner Turfinator, a 7-year-old gelding, was overlooked by bettors at 11-1 and nearly pulled off the upset, but could not quite hold off his younger rival. It was another neck back to second choice Midnitraintogeorgia in third, followed by Hesa Lil Bit High, Gotabenuts, Hesa Royal Remedy and Randys Pop Pop.

The $15,250 winner’s share of the $25,000 purse raised Gone Celebrating’s earnings to $147,514. A $2 win ticket on Bobby Cox’s gelding returned $3.80.

Gone Celebrating will run next in the Grade 2 Refrigerator Handicap on Nov. 28.

In the evening’s first race, Seek N Destroy cruised to a monster 7 ¾-length win in the $15,000 Grand Prairie Classic at 870 yards.

“I knew he had some speed; he showed that last time,” jockey Danny Lavergne said. “The first jump we kind of slipped a little bit, but he recovered real well. He just did what he does best.”

The 3-year-old gelding led at every call and, with the aid of a strong tailwind, stopped the timer in a stakes-record :44.85, less than 3/5 of a second off the track record of :44.27 set by the legendary Sign of Lanty in 2000. Go Easy Snow finished second, a neck ahead of longshot Scramblin Man.

Trained by James Gerhards, the victorious post time favorite returned $4.60 on a $2 win bet. The $8,550 winner’s share of the purse increased Seek N Destroy’s earnings to $34,666.

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