Weekly Countdown to the MBNA America Challenge Championships at SHRP

(Wednesday, October 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 Challenge Championship.

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 Park.

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