|AQHA World Champion Oak Tree Special
to run in the Sam Houston Classic on Saturday Night
Houston, Texas (August 31, 2004) - Houston racing fans will
be in for a treat this Labor Day weekend as AQHA World Champion
Oak Tree Special returns to Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, September
4. He will run in the $50,000-added Sam Houston Classic, one of
three stakes races to be run over the holiday weekend.
This is a homecoming of sorts for the 4-year-old son of Special
Task, who was purchased by owner Raul Rubalcava at the 2001 TQHA
Yearling Sale for just $8,000. The following year he returned to
capture the $276,100 TQHA Sale Futurity (RG1). His accomplishments
continued and last year the chestnut colt was named AQHA World Champion.
He has won 16 races and raised his career bankroll to $613,070.
Oak Tree Special, originally trained by Bobby Martinez and now
conditioned by Rubalcava's son, Christian, won the $80,100 MBNA
America East Challenge Championship at Delta Downs on August 15.
He earned a berth into the $300,000 MBNA Challenge Championships
to be hosted by Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, November 6. Rubalcava,
who resides in Wylie, Texas, recalls what impressed him about Oak
Tree Special as a yearling.
"His mama qualified for the All American, so I thought he
was a pretty good colt," said Rubalcava. "He looked heavy,
pretty stocky; that's what I liked about the horse."
Oak Tree Special will have to contend with a full field of talented
Quarter Horses including Valors Gold, winner of the $89,910 MBNA
Texas Challenge Championship (G1) at Sam Houston Race Park on May
29. The son of First Down Dash is owned by Claudio Aguilar of Edinburg
and trained by Frank Cavazos. Cavazos will also run stakes winner
Gray Invasion in the Sam Houston Classic. Trainer Heath Taylor will
run Zookie Street, who captured the 2003 MBNA Texas Challenge Championship
(G1) at Sam Houston Race Park. The 5-year-old son of Corona Cartel,
is owned and bred by Taylor's father, Michael and should be a factor
according to rider, Gilbert Ortiz.
"He needs a horse to his inside that will stay with him,"
commented Ortiz. "When he gets clear he wants to get in looking
for another horse to run with. I don't think he liked the Delta
surface as much as he likes this one."
Taylor has another contender pointed to the Sam Houston Classic,
First N Kool, whose dam, Kool Kue Baby, won the 1995, 1996 and 1998
editions of the race.
"He is some runner," acknowledges Ortiz. "His gate
didn't open on time in the trials and even with that he caught up
with them. I rode his mama to win the Sam Houston Classic twice
and rode him to win the Sam Houston Derby here last year. He will
In addition to Kool Kue Baby, past Sam Houston Classic champions
have included AQHA World Champions, Tailor Fit and Streakin Sin
The extended weekend live racing schedule will include the $35,000-added
Governor's Cup Marathon on Sunday evening. Defending champion, Get
Solid, from the barn of Heath Taylor, is nominated for the 870-yard
stakes. Racing continues on Monday, September 6 with a special Labor
Day race card featuring the finals of the $84,077 Dixie Stallion
Stakes Futurity. Post time is 1:00 p.m.