||Pyro Outshines A Stellar Field in the $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2)
(Houston, Texas - Saturday, May 9, 2015) -
The $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2) has produced some exceptional champions since its first running in 1994. This year's edition of the 440 yard stake drew an incredible field, including 2014 AQHA World ChampionJrc Callas First. However, it was Kathleen O. Matey's homebred Pyro who delivered a powerhouse performance.
The five-year-old son of Make It Anywhere out of the Rare Form mare Rare Kayoh made his 22nd career start this evening. He began his 2015 campaign at Hialeah Park, winning the Miami Dade Stakes before shipping to Houston for trainer Leslie Padilla. He defeated Daytona B in trials for the Bank of America Texas Challenge and finished fourth in the final on April 18. With Luis Guerrero in the irons, Pyro had a flawless break from the rail in the Sam Houston Classic and never relinquished the lead. He crossed the wire in :21.780 seconds, close to two lengths ahead of Jerry Windham's Mister Big.
"He's a very good horse," said Guerrero. "Every time I have ridden him, he comes out to run, even when he's running against really tough horses. I've been working him in the mornings and knew we had a chance tonight. Here's the result!"
Matey has always marveled at the heart and determination of Pyro, who is never the biggest horse in the field, but gives his all each time he enters the starting gate.
"We are thrilled with our 'little' horse's finish tonight," said Matey from her home in Kerrville, Texas. "We wish we had been able to be there."
Jrc Callas First, a five-year-old son of Winners Award, has been the pride and joy of Dana and Brian Stroud, who purchased the Texas-bred in October, 2013. Under regular rider Damian Martinez, Jrc Callas First won eight of his 10 races last year, earning him the prestigious honor of AQHA Champion Aged Gelding, Aged Horse and World Champion.
This was his first start of the year, following surgery to remove a chip from his knee.
"He was closing well," said trainer Brian Stroud. "I don't have any excuses for him tonight. The winner has been running this year. This was our first out."
Jerry Windham's homebred Mr Big was also making his first start of the year off an impressive three-year-old campaign in which he won five of his eight efforts. Leon Bard saddled the son of Shazoom, who closed well under Luis Vivanco.
"I've only had him 30 days," said Bard. "Obviously, he is a good horse and ran some good races last summer at Retama."
Trainer Bobby Martinez saddled the fourth place-finisher Big Dashing Perry, but had to scratch Mon Ti Dash due to an abscess in his foot.
Pyro, posted a speed index of 101 in the victory, the seventh of his career. Sent off at odds of 11-1, the sorrel gelding returned $24.40 for the win.
Matey was not sure of his next start, citing a very busy 2015 schedule to date. She indicated he will probably get some time off and "just be a horse for a while."
Fire On The Fly Victorious in the $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon
Intrepid distance specialist Fire on the Fly defended his title in the 870-yard $25,000 Governors' Cup Marathon.
The Bullard Farms homebred came into the race with a record of five wins from nine 870-yard starts. Trainer Tommy Bullard gave leading Sam Houston Race Park jockey Damian Martinez a leg up on the five-year-old son of Jet Cartel, and he exploded from the gate, building as much as a seven length margins on the field, before crossing the wire in :45.801.
"He arrived two days ago, and I stood him in the gates," said Martinez. "Dr. Bullard told me he breaks really fast, and that's what he did tonight."
Bullard was not sure what to expect from his charge, who had not run since the Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship last October at Prairie Meadows. He did have a bullet work last Saturday at Lone Star Park.
"He's a special horse, but he's had some issues and never 100% ready to run,” said Bullard. "I don't think I did that much with him; he's an amazing athlete."
Bullard is a practicing veterinarian, who has just been training for a short time, and he was quick to give credit to many horsemen in the Quarter Horse industry.
"John Buchanan, Sleepy Gilbreath and Jack Brooks are the real brains in my book," added Bullard.
The Field Cricket ran second under Jerry Lee Yoakum, with Dashers Midnight finishing third and Bling Bling Bok in fourth.
Fire On The Fly was sent off as the second betting choice and paid $6.20 to win. He has won eight of his 20 starts and with tonight's score, has bankrolled $120,505.
Special Mother's Day Racing Sunday, May 10
On Sunday, May 10, Sam Houston Race Park will host a special program in honor of Mother's Day. First post is 1:00 p.m., with a sumptuous Mother's Day Brunch offered in the Winner's Circle Restaurant.
The 2015 Quarter Horse meet at Sam Houston Race Park will conclude on Saturday, May 16, with a 1:00 p.m. post time so that fans can enjoy the simulcast of the Preakness Stakes, in addition to live racing. The closing card will include the $77,760 John Deere Texas Juvenile Challenge (G3) and the $55,170 Adequan Texas Derby Challenge.