|Countdown to the MBNA America Challenge
Championships at SHRP
Houston, Texas (October 6,
2004) - Sam Houston Race Park will host the 12th Running of
the MBNA America® Challenge Championships on Saturday, November
6, 2004. This nationally prominent racing event will offer more
than $1 million in purses and awards to the owners of the 58 horses
competing in one of six championship events.
In addition to the trophies for the six stakes races, championships
will be awarded to the leading breeders, trainers and jockeys competing
in the MBNA Challenge Championships. Nutrena sponsors an award for
the breeder that is responsible for the most MBNA challenge points.
The current leader in that category is Texas Quarter Horse Association
Life member, Jerry Windham, whose outstanding breeding program can
be seen winning races from Minnesota to California and all stops
Anjora Corp., on the basis of a number of seconds and thirds,
leads in the Sooner Universal Trailer Owner standings even though
their owned horses have not won a regional race as yet. Sam Houston
Race Park regulars in the top
five include Raul Rubalcava (3rd) and Bobby D. Cox (4th). Trainer
K. C. Carden, Elgin native and former Texas prep school track star,
is 5th on the owners list and, one of his main owners Jackie Sessions,
is second on that list.
K. C. Carden holds a slim lead over Heath Taylor in the Vetrolin
Trainers standings. A regular at Sam Houston Race Park from the
mid-nineties through 2002, Carden is noted for his conditioning
of the all-time leader in Quarter Horse Stakes wins, Kool Kue Baby,
the only American Quarter Horse to have won three challenge championship
races (the Classic twice and the Distaff once). Carden has two qualifiers
for the Professional Choice Championship, Sessions' A Toast to KC,
named for his trainer, and Carden's own GW Chick. G W Chick was
the sixth fastest qualifier for the Southwest regional championship
at Turf Paradise that will be run on October 17. The Carden trained
J D Phantom was the 4th fastest qualifier.
"That is a tough little race, so we'll just have to wait
to see where we might run on Championship night," commented
Carden currently running horses at Turf Paradise. Eddie Willis jumped
into fifth in the standings on September 26 when he won both the
Oklahoma Regional Bayer Legend Derby and Ford Juvenile Challenge.
Larry Payne was aboard both of Eddie Willis' winners at Blue Ribbon
Downs and jumped into the lead in the Wrangler Jockey standings.
The rider he supplanted in the top spot was Texas native Cody McDaniel,
a young female rider having the best riding year of her career.
"A Toast to KC was brought back to the paddock for a rider
change over at Delta last year and I rode him and won," said
McDaniel. "I have ridden him ever since and it was nice to
have an owner decide she wanted me riding all of her horses. KC
has flown me to Oregon, Minnesota, Iowa and most recently to Turf
Paradise where I qualified "Toast" and JD Phantom. Winning
a championship race at Sam Houston Race Park where I got my start
would be the most thrilling experience of my career up to now. All
my family is there and I am very excited about riding in the Championship
in front of all of them."
James Brooks was just one point back of McDaniel in third, but
his status for the finals was compromised when he broke his arm
in a gate incident at Sam Houston Race Park last week. Gilbert Ortiz
and John Hamilton round out the top five, so the jockey championship
will most likely not be decided until the night is over.
Fans will see all the fanfare surrounding the winning horses on
Championship night, but bring a score card and keep track of those
seconds and thirds, because breeders, owners, trainers and jockeys
will be earning points toward their respective championships as
well. For more information on the MBNA Challenge Championships,
log onto the AQHA web site at www.aqha.com.
Click on racing and then onto the MBNA Challenge Championships logo
for a complete list of the horses, owners, breeders, trainers and
jockeys that will be participating in this premier racing event.
For reserved seats or dining reservations for the MNBA America
Challenge Championships, call (281) 807-8760.