|First Time Ta Town Game Winner of the $21,870 Pfizer Texas Starter Allowance Challenge at Sam Houston Race Park
(Houston, Texas - Saturday, May 12, 2012) - The Saturday evening card at Sam Houston Race Park featured three stakes and each provided gritty competition and exciting finishes.
First Time Ta Town Win the $21,870 Pfizer Animal Health Texas Starter Challenge Allowance
The husband and wife team of Eve and Guy Hopkins had to wait for the photo finish, but were rewarded handsomely when their homebred, First Time Ta Town was declared the winner of the $21,870 Pfizer Animal Health Texas Starter Challenge Allowance. Eve and Rodney Amos bred and owned the 4-year-old son of Brimmerton out of the First Place Dash mare First Raise. This was the fourth win in a row for the sorrel gelding, who narrowly edged The Field Cricket in the 350-yard feature in a final time of :17.517 seconds.
"Eve and Rodney raised this horse and have been partners on the dam," said Hopkins. "We had some problems with him when he was two, but last year at Lone Star, he finally got sound and ran really well for us. His big old kick at the end got him there. Rodney said maybe we need to go farther, but first, we’ll go to Prairie Meadows."
The Field Cricket faced tough company here on April 14 in the $100,000 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship. He was second by a nose for trainer Jesse Yoakum and owner Claud R. Denson.
"He ran a really good race," said rider Jerry Lee Yoakum. "We just got outrun, but he was game."
First Time Ta Town paid $6.20 for the win, earning a speed index of 101. Cougar Hendricks ran third, followed by Oh My Gol Sis, Tooty Fruity Fish, Zoom Lightning, Kiss This Vision, La Esterlina, First Down Teller, Flash Dashin and Roho Go Jo Lema.
General Gordiz Scores in the $13,710 Colors of Texas Paint Maturity (G2)
A field of seven paints, 3-year-old and up, were entered in the first stakes of the evening. The winner was General Gordiz, owned by Javier Lujan of Pharr, Texas. The 3-year-old son of Awesome Chrome won of the 2011 Colors of Houston Futurity, but was winless in his last six starts. He was a game champion this evening, closing from the far outside under rider Luis Vivanco.
"He faced some top Quarter Horses in a stakes at Delta Downs," said trainer Francisco Javier Vega, Jr. of his first start in 2012. "He did well tonight against Paints and Luis did a great job."
Final time for the 350-yard sprint was :17.831 over a fast track. Sent off at odds of 4-1, General Gordiz paid $10.40 for the win. Moons Image under Rodrigo Vallejo was second. CRM Livewire ran third, but was disqualified and placed last due to interference.
Zoomin Moon Impressive in the $15,645 Colors of Houston Futurity (G2)
Two-year-old paints were featured in the $15,645 Colors of Houston Futurity (G2) and Zoomin Moon took command in the 300-yard stakes. The gray filly ran third in her debut at Sam Houston Race Park on April 21, but broke sharply this evening and drew off by 1 ¼ lengths under jockey Rodrigo Vallejo. Owned by Wendell Blankenship of Lubbock, Texas, Zoomin Moon is trained by Gary Jacobs, who was proud of her performance this evening.
"That was her first out and she was a little green," said Jacobs. "I thought she could run, and she proved it tonight."
Winners Winner, who broke his maiden in the same race on April 21, was second under Cipriano Vidana and Dashin for Jewels closed for third.
Zoomin Moon paid $10.60 for his maiden-breaking stakes win as the 4-1 second betting choice.
Allure Sr Captures $42,300 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge
Friday night's feature was the $42,300 Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge. Trials took place on April 26 and Allure Sr, a California-bred mare was the fastest qualifier. Owned by Gilberto Flores and trained by Janet VanBebber, the 4-year-old mare won her career debut convincingly, drawing off by 2 1/2 lengths. Jockey Arturo Carillo was the winning rider, covering 350 yards in :17.402 seconds over a muddy track. Allure Sr, sent off as the post-time favorite, paid $5.00 for the win, earning a speed index of 104.
"I am so pleased to have this mare in my barn," said VanBebber. "She's gutsy and 100% class. She got a little excited in the trials, but was very professional tonight and never lost her cool."
VanBebber complimented the Sam Houston Race Park's track surface, which withstood a heavy downpour earlier in the evening.
"Sam Houston does an excellent job of maintaining their track surface," added VanBebber, who has won five leading trainer titles in Houston. "At other tracks, I might have been concerned with the conditions, but not at Sam Houston."
Jo Jos Rocket ran second and Im A Feature Girl was third. There was a deadheat for fourth between Carlo Magno and Sixes Diamond. Herein, My First Timber, Ivory Cartel and Jessa Kool Perry completed the order of finish.
Second-fastest qualifier, Im Jess A Cowgirl was scratched.
Allure Sr won $19,458 for the victory. VanBebber will ship the gray mare back to her barn at Delta Downs with the goal of exploring black-type stakes options in the months to come.
Special Afternoon Post on Sunday, May 13 for Mother's Day
Mother's Day, Sunday, May 13, at Sam Houston Race Park will offer free admission for all ladies and will host a special post time of 1:00 p.m. The Winner's Circle Restaurant will prepare a gourmet brunch featuring $2 Bloody Marys and Mimosas. The 2012 Quarter Horse meet will conclude on Saturday, May 19 with an afternoon post time beginning at 1:00 p.m. so that racing fans can enjoy live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 137th Preakness Stakes.