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