St Pats First Wins the $24,750 Stephen F. Austin Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park

(Saturday, June 30, 2007) - Live American Quarter Horse racing returned to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday evening and the opening night crowd of 8,280 enjoyed a great racing card followed by a fine performance by rising country music star, Jason Aldean in the first Verizon Wireless Concert Series.

The Saturday evening program featured 13 races including trials for the TQHA Sires’ Cup Futurity, Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship and the first stakes of the 2007 American Quarter Horse Meeting, the $24,750 Stephen F. Austin Stakes.

St Pats First returned to the winner’s circle for owners Jerry and Bob Gaston of Seguin, Texas. The 4-year-old colt is trained by Heath Taylor and was ridden to victory by Russel Hadley. This was the 14th career start for the son of First Down Dash, who finished with authority over Hesa Lil Bit High, covering 350 yards in 17.71.

This was a renewal of the matchup between the two colts with Hesa Lil Bit high edging St Pats First in the $20,000 Live Oak Handicap on May 26 at Retama Park.

“He and that horse (Hesa Lil Bit High) are fairly even,” commented Taylor. “He beat us at Retama and they both got away good tonight and ran a good race. Russel did a good job and I was glad to see him get the win.”

“He’s been knocking at the door,” added Gaston. “We know what a nice horse Hesa Lil Bit High is.”

Hesa Lil Bit High, a 7-year-old gelding conditioned by Bobby Touchet, won the Live Oak Handicap off a 2-year-layoff. The gray ran a game race under Arturo Puga, who recently won the Retama Park riding title.

“He Ran a really good race,” said Touchet. “Both horses are real good horses. Each horse could beat each other on any given day. Heath has a real good horse.”

Defending champion, Ronas Wind Dancer, finished third under Jeff Jerman, followed by My Best of Six, Corona Silver, Im Bionic, Ida Snow Man, Eyes Moving Easy and Azoomer.

Taylor and the Gastons will head off to Delta Downs for tomorrow’s $230,150 Firecracker Futurity. Their colt, Coronas Leaving You, was the fastest qualifier in trials and will be attempting to remain unbeaten in the final. He is a half-brother to Whosleavingwho, winner of the 2002 Champion of Champions.

Bank of America Texas Challenge Trial Results

Trials were held for two Bank of America Texas Challenge races this evening. Defending champion of last year’s MBNA Texas Challenge Championship, This Snow is Cold, was the fastest qualifier, winning her trial in :21.793. The multiple-stakes winner is trained by Frank Mendez for owners Los Ladrilleros Horse Racing Company. Rider Russel Hadley piloted the 6-year-old mare to her second win of the year, following a five-month break from racing.

The finals of the $118,400 Bank of America Texas Challenge will take place on Saturday, July 14.

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