Tough Field of Eleven Set for the $107,190 MBNA America Texas Challenge at SHRP

(Thursday, July 7, 2005) - No trials were needed for the Grade 1 $107,190 MBNA Texas Challenge Championship, one of seven stakes set for Saturday, July 9 at Sam Houston Race Park. The field consists of 11 top older horses squaring off at 440-yards in the sixth race of the card. The winner will earn a berth in the $300,000 MBNA America® Challenge Championships on Saturday, November 5, which will be held at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Frostys Money Man is the 7-2 morning-line favorite. Trained by Samuel Valdivia, the 5-year-old gelding won his trial for the Oklahoma Challenge Championship and finished second in the final to This Snow is Cold. Larry Payne will ride. Trained Heath Taylor will be busy saddling three horses for the MBNA Texas Challenge. His entrants include Fast Talkin Val with Gilbert Ortiz, Fredericksburg, who will be ridden by Juan Vazquez and Fashion N Flashin with Jerry Lee Yoakum in the irons.

“This is a deep, tough race,” commented Taylor, who is at Ruidoso Downs on Thursday and Friday for the Rainbow Futurity and Derby trials. “I am glad that trials were not necessary. I don’t like to run my older horses twice in a two-week time period. They are all training well, but this race is filled with nice horses.”

Splendid Sam Perry returns to Sam Houston Race Park for the MBNA Texas Challenge. The 4-year-old son of Mr Jess Perry won four of his five starts here last summer including a convincing win in the $110,000 Sam Houston Derby (G2) last September. Trainer Eloy Gonzalez gave the mount to rider Manuel Garcia; they will break from post position three.

La Torch was the fastest qualifier in trials for the $35,460 John Deere Texas Distaff Challenge for fillies and mares. Trained by Roy Roberts, La Torch will be ridden by Danny Lavergne and drew the rail for the 400-yard stakes.

“She’s been doing real well and I think she’ll be the horse to beat,” commented Roberts.

The field includes defending champion, Sixes Ms Perry from the barn of Duane Hartsell, A Rare Cartel, who has won four of her five career starts for trainer Heath Taylor and A Toast To Lightning who was the second fastest qualifier in trials for trainer Janet Van Bebber.

Kathys Star Quest, winner of the 2004 Manor Downs Futurity, was the fastest qualifier in trials for the $58,770 Bayer Texas Derby Challenge. Trained by Frank Ramirez and ridden by Rodrigo Vallejo, the 3-year-old filly cruised to victory in a time of :20.137. Little Kool Barbie with Gilbert Ortiz aboard was the second fastest qualifier, winning her trial in :20.141.

Defending champion Run And Pray is one of eight distance horses entered in Saturday’s $28,350 MD Barns Texas Distance Challenge The 6-year-old Texas-bred American Quarter Horse is owned by Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth and trained by John Buchanan. He used his home court advantage as well as his favorable rail draw to win the $100,000 MD Barns Distance Challenge Championship on November 6, 2004. His winning record last year earned him 2004 AQHA Distance Horse of the Year honors.

Run And Pray drew post position one for Saturday’s contest and was installed as the 8-5 morning line favorite. Regular rider John Hamilton stays aboard and will get his stiffest test from Halfway A Streak, trained by Guy Hopkins. The 6-year-old son of Streakin La Jolla was the fastest qualifier in trials run on June 26. Kaydena, a 4-year-old filly, has won her last two 870-yard races and will be a factor under 2004 Sam Houston Race Park leading rider, Danny Lavergne.

Post time for the stakes-filled Saturday night card is 7:00 p.m. In addition to the five MBNA Challenge stakes, the ten fastest qualifiers will duel in the final of the $355,849 TQHA Sale Futurity. The premier race is a showcase event for horses purchased in the annual TQHA Yearling Sale, which is held each July at Sam Houston Race Park.

News and Notes

Quarter Horse trainer Toby Keeton, is approaching a career milestone of 1,000 wins. As of July 4, the 41-year-old conditioner had 999 wins. He has four horses entered at Sam Houston Race Park on the Friday, July 8 card.

Keeton is second in the all-time trainer standings at Sam Houston Race Park with 239 wins. The late Steve Van Bebber still is the leading trainer overall with 280 victories.

back to THBPA Infomation