This Snow Is Cold Wins MBNA America Challenge Championships at LSP

(November 12, 2006) - This Snow Is Cold, the lone female in the field of 11 older American Quarter Horses, broke alertly from the starting gate and prevailed by a nose in a thrilling three-horse photo with longshot WRS Special Shoe and LDS Dash for Dylan to win Saturday’s Grade 1, $301,500 MBNA America Challenge Championship.

The lucrative race capped the 14th MBNA America Challenge Championships in front of 8,128 at Lone Star Park in Grand Prairie, Texas – an 11.2% attendance jump from the last time the event was held at Lone Star in 2002.

This Snow Is Cold, ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo and carrying 126 pounds, ran 440 yards in :21.669 and paid $7.60, $5.40 and $3.20 as the 5-2 second betting choice. WRS Special Shoe, a nose back, returned $14.20 and $5.60. LDS Dash For Dylan was another head back in third and paid $4. Defending AQHA World Champion DM Shicago, the slight 5-2 favorite, finished fourth, a neck back of the third-place finisher.

This Snow Is Cold avenged a runner-up effort to champion Catchmeinyourdreams in last year’s MBNA America Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos. Saturday’s triumph was the 10th in 29 starts for 5-year-old This Snow Is Royal mare and was worth $150,000 to owners Los Ladrilleros Horse Racing Company. The Texas-bred trained by Melinda Garcia has now earned $469,835 and is eligible to compete in the prestigious Grade 1, $600,000 Champion of Champions at Los Alamitos on Dec. 9.

“They call it the Challenge and this was challenging the last couple of months,” Garcia said. “This is so exciting! We’ll be headed to California in December.”

The MBNA America was the richest of six championship events. Earlier, Magical Thunder took the Grade 1, $200,000 Bayer Legend Derby. Eye Caughtcha Peekin won Grade 2, $100,000 John Deere Distaff. Strider Man prevailed in the Grade 1, $100,000 Red Cell Distance. Remember Me Rose won the Grade 2, $150,000 Ford Juvenile. Speedy Injun won the $75,000 Professional’s Choice Claiming.


Magical Thunder ($21.40), owned and bred in Texas by Mike Inscore and trained by Ray Robbins, rolled from the inside to win the Bayer Legend Derby by a neck over Work Work Work. The Runaway Winner gelding covered 400 yards in :19.775 en route to a $100,000 check. Twice a graded stakes winner at Prairie Meadows and runner-up in the Retama Park Derby in June, Magical Thunder has won six of his 12 starts and $173,506. Juan Vazquez replaced Tami Purcell in the saddle after the year’s most successful jockey in Challenge Championship regional competition broke her collarbone Thursday night in a spill at Evangeline Downs. Run Hawk Run, the 2-1 favorite, klacked the needed kick and finished sixth.

“I rode him one time last year as a two-year-old,” Vazquez said. “He was a pretty big baby. He kind of stumbled a little bit and I just never let him run. He didn’t get from the gate very quick, but I got pretty lucky to have the one hole with him. Sometimes that helps big horses that don’t have a lot of speed which take about 50 to 75 yards to get going. That’s a nice horse and like I said, he’s a pretty big horse.”


Randee Fagan’s Eye Caughtcha Peekin gamely held off 9-5 favorite Sizzlin by a half-length to win the John Deere Distaff in :19.941 for 400 yards. Trained by “Sleepy” Gilbreath and ridden by Jose Alvarez, the 4-year-old Mr Eye Opener filly won her fifth race and second graded stakes event. The $50,000 winner’s share jumped her bankroll to $107,465 from eight outs.


Warner Croft’s 4-year-old homebred Strider Man ($8), under Jeff Jerman, set the pace and edged clear to win the Red Cell Distance by 1 ¼ lengths over 2-1 favorite Cashin Sam. Trained by Matt Baker, the Phone Prince gelding notched his first stakes victory while running 870 yards in :44.977. Overall, he’s won five of 20 starts and $91,049 thanks to the $51,000 first prize.


Azoom LP’s Remember Me Rose ($4.80), the Rainbow Futurity runner-up and All-American Futurity fifth, didn’t disappoint as the favorite in the Ford Juvenile en route to her first stakes win. The Corona Cartel filly, sent postward as the 7-5 favorite sprinted 350 yards in :17.432 to easily handle longshot Go Girl Gone by a neck. Esgar Ramirez rode the Oklahoma-bred for trainer Ben Torres. She banked $75,000 and improved her ledger to four wins and $289,081 from seven starts.


Speedy Injun ($19.40)’s victory in the Professional’s Choice Claiming was the 3-year-old gelding’s fifth victory in nine starts for owner Harold Chenault and trainer Eddie Willis. The California-bred got away from the gates good under jockey Larry Payne and rolled 350 yards in :17.632 to beat Front Page 007 by a neck. The $37,500 winner’s share of the purse doubled the Invisible Injun gelding’s earnings to $72,086. Ida Snow Man, the 7-5 favorite, was fourth.

In other stakes races on the card:

* Joe Kirk Fulton’s 7-5 favorite Hez Habit Forming ($4.80), ridden by Jose Alvarez and trained by James Lackey, ran 440 yards in :22.051 to beat 13-1 outsider Midnight in Moscow by a neck in the $25,000 Farnam Stakes.

* Southwest Racing Partners’ Make a Secret ($9.20), under jockey Juan Vazquez, narrowly defeated even-money favorite Ima Ramblin Girl by a nose in the $25,000 Sooner Trailer Stakes for trainer Heath Taylor with a 400-yard time of :20.088.

* Betty and Bob Moore’s Shake Em Fever ($11.80), with “Diamond” Jim Brooks in the saddle for trainer Judd Kearl, beat Jess Braggin by a neck in the $25,000 AQHA Members Plus Stakes while running 400 yards in :19.923. Allyouneedislove, the 8-5 favorite, came home sixth.

* Carlton Dechert’s I Likem Fast ($5.80), trained by Eddie Willis, ran 350 yards in :17.717 under Larry Payne and defeated Call It Royal by a half-length in the $25,000 Nutrena Stakes. Surefire Dash, the 6-5 favorite, was fourth.

* Pat and Walt Fletcher’s First to Ramble ($4.40) took advantage of an inside draw and rolled home by three-quarters of a length over Apollos Dasher in :45.795 for 870 yards to win the $25,000 Los Alamitos Stakes for trainer Charlton Hunt and jockey Randy Wilson.

* Favorite This Snow Is Blazin ($4), owned by Judith Charbonneau and trained by Ed Hardy, won the $25,000 AQHRJ Stakes by a half-length over La Jolla Maid with a 350-yard clocking in :17.714 under jockey Tad Leggett.

Total handle on the 12-race program was $1,347,601.10. The on-track crowd of 8,128 bet $374,543 on the races, while another $973,058 was wagered at simulcast outlets across North America.

Live racing at Lone Star Park resumes Wednesday night with a nine-race program that begins at 6:35 p.m. CT. The week’s highlights include trials for the Grade 1, $400,000-estimated Texas Classic Derby on Friday and the Grade 1, $1 million-estimated Texas Classic Futurity on Saturday. Only 10 live racing dates remain at the Fall Meeting of Champions.

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