-photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photo

-photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photo

-photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photo

First N Kool Captures the $98,000 Sam Houston Derby

Houston, Texas (September 6, 2003) - The $98,000 Sam Houston Derby (G2) was run earlier in the evening and the winner was First N Kool, a 3-year-old colt owned by Grupo Lopez Interprises and trained by Heath Taylor. First N Kool is the son of one of the most prolific Quarter Horses, Kool Kue Baby and he was a convincing winner in tonight’s stakes. Regular rider Gilbert Ortiz was aboard for the 440-yard stakes, guiding the California-bred colt to victory in a final time of :21.774. First N Kool earned $39,200 for the stakes win.

"The colt ran a superior race tonight," said Ortiz. "Heath has done a great job with him. I told him that I thought we’d have a good shot tonight because he’s beaten some of these horses and 440-yards was a good distance for him. He’s a stud colt and has a mind of his own but today when we left (the gates) he had it all together."

"This horse has been quite a project, but Gilbert and I sat down after the trials and made a few adjustments," said Taylor. "Gilbert told me if we got him right, he would win the race and we were very fortunate tonight. This horse is a long-striding horse and as long as he doesn’t get knocked off stride, he is solid. He left super tonight and beat some great horses."

Trainer John Buchanan looked as though he had a loaded deck as he sent forth a three-horse entry which included Prime Talent, fastest qualifier in the trials run on August 23, Snow Warning and Red Dog Leader.

John Hamilton rode Red Dog Leader to a second place finish, just missing at the wire.

"I knew I was coming in second," admitted Hamilton. "You always have hope that you would finish first. When he got close to the other horses, I knew that there would be some trouble. I thought that I had Red Dog Leader in his lead a little better this time. I knew I lost it when he decided to switch leads all of a sudden. I really thought that I had him turned on enough to win this one. First N Kool is one of the best horses in the country. The race was close but coming in second is better than coming in third."

Prime Talent survived a photo finish for third under Juan Vazquez. Snow Warning, with Alex Baldillez, Jr. stumbled and veered in sharply at the gap. Baldillez was able to regain control, but finished eighth.

"Horses will do that on the inside sometimes and I don't know why they do that," said Buchanan. "I think it was a good run and there wasn't anything he (Alex Baldillez, Jr.) could do; at least he didn't fall off! "I'm happy about the finish; they all ran good."

First N Kool was sent off at odds of 10-1 and paid $21.60, $5.20 and $3.80 across the board. The 3-1 exacta returned $38.20 and he 3-1-7 trifecta paid $390.20. The complete order of finish for the Sam Houston Derby included Amor Lijero, First Place Win, Hesa Lil Bit High, Moon Shake, Snow Warning and Sumkinda Illusion. 2002 Sam Houston Futurity winner, Shiney Sign, ran tenth.

The Sam Houston Derby and Futurity were the final two stakes races of the 2003 American Quarter Horse meeting at Sam Houston Race Park. Live Thoroughbred racing returns to the northwest Houston racetrack on Thursday, October 23, 2003.

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