|MBNA America Challenge Championships
- News and Notes for Thursday, November 4
November 4, 2004) - The excitement is building for the MBNA
America® Challenge Championships at Sam Houston Race Park. The
premier event for American Quarter Horses will take place on Saturday,
November 6, 2004.
Leading Trainers Like Push The Pace
Two-time national training champion Paul Jones and Janet VanBebber,
winner of the last three runnings of the Grade 1 MBNA America Challenge
Championship, have each selected Push The Pace as their choice in
Saturday's $300,000 MBNA America Challenge Championship.
First post time first 7 p.m. CST for the 10-race program highlighted
by five Grade 1 Challenge Championship stakes races. The races will
be televised to 50 million households on TVG and the following Fox
Sports regional networks- Southwest, South, Net 2 (west coast),
New York and Sunshine (tape delayed in Florida). The races will
also air on America's Horse, televised on the Outdoor Life Network,
on Nov. 21 and Nov. 28 at 6 p.m. EST.
Jones, whose horses earned nearly $5 million in 2003 and is annually
the leading trainer at Los Alamitos Race Course, likes Push The
Pace because, "If he gets away from the gate, I don't think
they can beat him. I also like the outside post position."
Push The Pace will start from the ninth post position in the 10-horse
VanBebber, who has wrapped up her fourth consecutive training
title at Sam Houston, echoes that Push The Pace should benefit from
the outside position and added, "I like that he is trained
by "Sleepy" Gilbreath because he is a Texan and, therefore,
knows how to acclimate horses to running at Sam Houston."
After each picking Push The Pace, the two nationally prominent
trainers differed on their second- and third-place selections. Jones
likes Special Task Force for the runner-up position and 2003 co-world
champion Oak Tree Special to finish third. "Special Task Force
has been consistent wherever he's gone and I like the fact that
Juan Vasquez is riding him. Oak Tree Special has past class (he
won three Grade 1 derbies in 2003) and has Gilbert Ortiz riding."
VanBebber chose SLM Snowman for second place and Stars Snowbound
to finish third. "SLM Snowman is coming off four straight wins
and has two second-place finishes at Sunland Park. Stars Snowbound
likes to win (six wins from seven starts this year), but hasn't
faced this level of competition before. Also, she is undefeated
at 440 yards."
Thrill of a Lifetime for Jockey Cody McDaniel Female Quarter Horse
rider, Cody McDaniel, will be honored at Saturday's AQHA's Owner's
Brunch. She will receive the Wrangler Leading MBNA America Racing
Challenge Jockey Award. The recognition is given to the rider who
has earned the most points in regional MBNA Challenge competition
throughout the year. She will receive $2,000, a TexTan saddle and
a Montana Silversmith belt buckle.
McDaniel, from Crosby, Texas, has had her primary success riding
for trainer K. C. Carden. Known for her spunk and humor, McDaniel
got her break in the Challenge in an unusual way.
"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."
Past Wrangler Leading MBNA America Racing Challenge Jockeys include
Juan Vazquez in 2002 and G. R. Carter in 2003.