MJ Gold is Fastest Qualifier for the $315,000 Sam Houston Futurity

(Friday, August 23, 2002) - There was a full moon shining tonight at Sam Houston Race Park and that might have been a good omen for trainer Duane L. Hartsell.

Hartsell saddled MJ Gold, a 2-year-old filly, who was the fastest qualifier from the nine trial races run tonight for the $315,000 Sam Houston Futurity (G1). Owned by the Lopez Ranch, MJ Gold won the first trial of the evening, covering 400 yards in a time of :20.002. Ridden by jockey J. R. Ramirez, the daughter of Royal Shake Em, was making just the third start of her career.

"Last time when she broke her maiden, she was kind of rowdy in the gate," said Ramirez. "She still won the race; tonight she was a lot more settled and really improved."

In addition to MJ Gold, Hartsell qualified Shiney Sign, a 2-year old colt bred by Jerry Windham and owned by M. E. Cavasar. Shiney Sign ran a game second to Oak Tree Special in the $276,100 TQHA Sales Futurity (RG2) and was also ridden by Ramirez, winning his trial in a time of :20.124.

Hartsell was not the only trainer to saddle two qualifiers this evening. Both Heath Taylor and Kenneth Roberts, Sr. had two runners fast enough to make the top ten. Taylor's duo includes Dash For Yonder and Deadly and Roberts scored with Hunters Lil Jess and Streak On Demand.

Zip First, the winner of the $565,000 Ruidoso Futurity (G1) on July 21 was the ninth fastest qualifier with a time of :20.149. Trained by Leon Bard, the son of First Place Dash was supplemented to the Sam Houston Futurity by owner Gary W. Hartstack.

All ten fastest qualifiers will return to Sam Houston Race Park on September 7 for the finals and a record purse of $315,000.

Sam Houston Futurity Trials
Friday, August 23, 2002
Finals: Saturday, September 7, 2002
TWO-YEAR-OLDS - 400 Yards
MJ Gold J. R. Ramirez Duane L. Hartsell
Dash For Yonder Gilbert Ortiz M. Heath Taylor :20.011
Hunters Lil Jess Alvin Brossette Kenneth L. Roberts :20.036
Deadly Gilbert Ortiz M. Heath Taylor :20.072
Shiney Sign J. R. Ramirez Duane L. Hartsell :20.124
Streak On Demand Alvin Brossette Kenneth L. Roberts :20.140
Mr Gatti Mark Page David A. Okeson :20.144
Boot Scootin Task Raul Ramirez, Jr. John Buchanan :20.145
Zip First (S) James Brooks G. Leon Bard :20.149
Shake Em White (S) Jacky Martin James Harris :20.167

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