|Weekly Countdown to the MBNA America
Challenge Championships at SHRP
27, 2004) - Sam Houston Race Park will host the 12th Running
of the MBNA America® Challenge Championships on Saturday, November
The cornerstone of MBNA Challenge Championship night is the MBNA
America Challenge Championship, a $300,000 purse race for older
qualifiers. Leading this group with 16 wins is last year's 3-year
old American Quarter Horse and AQHA Horse of the Year, OAK TREE
SPECIAL. A winner of 10-of-13 including 4 derbies last year, Oak
Tree Special won only one of 3 so far this year and that was the
important East Regional Championship earning Raul Rubalcava's son
of Special Task a spot in the finals.
Two other sons of Special Task made the finals including Western
Livestock, LLC's PUSH THE PACE who represent the Southwest Region.
A winner of 15-of-29, Push the Pace was in the exacta in 6 of his
7 starts this year earning over $128,000. Trained by Michael Barber
in the qualifier, Push the Pace is now in the barn of Sleepy Gilbreath.
Oil and Hay Partners' SPECIAL TASK FORCE is the third Special Task
baby to qualify for the finals. Trained by Jack Brooks, Special
Task Force was 2nd in the All American Gold Cup on September 4 in
his first start after qualifying at Remington Park on May 14. Trainer
Brooks send his $262K earner to Lone Star for the Refrigerator Handicap
on Friday the 29th as a "tune up".
Central Regional Champion SLM SNOWMAN won all 4 of his races at
Prairie Meadows this year and enters undefeated in 2004 after going
3-5-0 from 11 starts last year. Valors Gold will represent the Texas
Region and will need to regain his Regional Championship winning
form if trainer Frank Cavazos is to have a chance at saddling two
The $150,000 Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship (previously
the American Airlines) once again features the fastest two-year
olds in the country on Championship night. And, depending on what
happens on Friday, October 29, the others will have to contend with
AZOOM, the Texas sensation that has been described as a "freak",
where that term is used to describe "uncommonly fast".
Some sharp two-year olds will line up to accept the challenge,
however, including Dee and Betty Rapers Eye Yin You, that ran the
fastest actual time for 350 yards of any qualifier when he went
17.28 to win the New Mexico Regional at Ruidoso. Also having run
faster than Azoom is the Northwest Champion Budderfly Effect, that
posted a 17.318 on the fast Boise surface as he won his 4th race
from 6 starts before going to Ruidoso and finishing 3rd in an All
American Futurity trial in his most recent start.
Sizzlin Red Corona won the first six starts of his career before
finishing 4th in the Canada Cup Futurity in his most recent start.
This son of Fishers Dash was sent to locally based Guy Hopkins for
the Challenge Championships. Oklahoma Champion , Plain Eye Opening
has a record of 4-3-0 from 9 starts and most recent qualifier Jacquay
won the first 4 starts of his career, finished second and third
in two and then closed out winning 3 in an row and enters the Ford
off a perfectly timed three week break.
Locally based Maid It Special, a filly that won the first three
races of her career, and First Comment who won the most recent three
of his including the East Regional followed by an allowance win
here, could join with Azoom in an all Sam Houston based trifecta
in the Ford Juvenile 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
News and Notes
Trainer Dave Correll is pleased with the way in which his 2-year-old
filly, Maid It Special has worked for her return to the racetrack
in the $150,000 Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship. She won the
Ford Texas Challenge on Memorial Day weekend and underwent surgery
to repair a chip in her knee. She resumed training last month, and
Correll likes her chances.
"She worked last Friday and did 220 yards in 11.33,"
said Correll. "The only horse that outworked her was Push The
Pace, who is running in the MBNA Challenge Championship. It was
a good work and J. R. (Ramirez) will stand her in the gate next
Wednesday. I have a lot of faith in her and in J.R. He gives me
100% everytime I name her on a horse. If Maid It Special loses in
the Ford, I won't blame my rider."