|Weekly Countdown to the MBNA America
Challenge Championships at SHRP
13, 2004) - Sam Houston Race Park will host the 12th Running
of the MBNA America® Challenge Championships on Saturday, November
6, 2004. Two of the six MBNA Challenge Championship races are written
for groups of American Quarter Horses that are the backbone of Quarter
Horse racing, the lower priced claiming runner and the "long
distance" Quarter Horses that race around the "hook".
The $100,000 MD Barns Challenge is "around the hook"
at 870 yards and is always a fan favorite. In what is a very evenly
matched championship race, two-time qualifier Runbyu will be the
one to beat. A five-year old son of Juno Dat Cash, Runbyu is a "dual
qualifier" having won both the West/Southwest and Northwest
Regional Championships as part of a perfect 6-for-6 record in 2004.
Five of those were at the MD Barns' 870 yard distance and the chestnut
gelding posted speed indexes from 92 to 120 in the process. One
question is, with all his wins in Idaho and Wyoming, has he faced
the likes of Texas Regional Champion Run and Pray and East Regional
Champ Seek N Destroy who took turns beating each other over the
Brazos River Sand at Sam Houston Race Park? Owner Fred Yamaguchi
and trainer Heath Taylor thought highly enough of Get Solid, who
was honored as 2003 Distance Horse of the Meet at Sam Houston Race
Park, to supplement him to the MBNA Challenge program for $20,000.
Rulon Gardner, named after the Olympic Gold Medal winning wrestler,
will be stabled at Tooter Jordan's barn at Sam Houston Race Park.
The 5-year-old distance specialist won three races this year at
Remington Park, including the MD Barnes Oklahoma Challenge on May
14. Bac in the Saddle will represent California with a record of
4-1-3 from 8 starts this year. No, Runbyu hasn't faced those four,
but he did run second in the Sam Houston Stakes on the MBNA Challenge
championship under card at Los Alamitos a year ago and may "runbythem"
and be crowned an undefeated champion of this years MD Barns Distance
The $75,000 Professional's Choice Challenge is a 350-yard dash
for Quarter Horses that have raced for a claiming price of $7,500
or less sometime within the past year. Claiming races for $7,500
or less make up a majority of the races run at tracks around this
country and the Professional's Choice company provides opportunities
for these "blue collar" racers to race for championship
level purses. A Toast to KC, trained by Austin native K C Carden
and fifth in last years edition, is only runner from last's years
contest to have qualified for a return trip, and the 5-year-old
did it twice, once in Oregon and also in Iowa. Katrina Duncan, a
3-year old daughter of Sir Austin Duncan representing Texas, was
claimed by her current connections, Cedar Creek Ranch, Inc, out
of a $5,000 maiden race at Lone Star in November last year. Trained
this year by Joseph Vacca, Katrina Duncan finished second to Five
Mile Creek in the Professional's Choice Texas challenge and third
to Fast Talkin Val in the East Challenge in her most recent start.
Sadly for owner Raul Rubalcava, Five Mile Creek died last month
following surgery to repair a foot injury suffered at Delta Downs.
Katrina Duncan attempts to be the first Quarter Horse to break its
maiden in the Professional's Choice Challenge Championship
The post position draw for all six MBNA America Challenge Championships
stakes will take place on Wednesday, November 3 at Sam Houston Race