This Snow Is Cold Captures the $115,650 MBNA America Texas Challenge Championship at SHRP

(July 8, 2006) - A late afternoon storm hit northwest Houston rendering two inches of rainfall in a 30-minute time span, but there was no raining on the parade of This Snow Is Cold, as she won the won the $115,650 MBNA Texas Challenge Championship (G1) tonight at Sam Houston Race Park.

The 5-year-old mare is owned by Los Ladrilleros Horse Racing Company of Houston, Texas and trained by Melinda Garcia. She was the fastest qualifier in trials run on June 23 and dominated her seven male rivals tonight, closing gamely under regular rider, Armando Andrade. She covered the track, which was upgraded to good, in a final time of :21.374, just short of the track record for 440-yards of :21.350 set in 1994. Her speed index was an impressive 105.

This was the second stakes win of the year for the Texas-bred daughter of This Snow Is Royal who already earned a berth in the $300,000 MBNA America® Challenge Championships on Saturday, November 11 at Lone Star Park.

“She's all heart,” said Garcia. “She gives it all she's got to the wire. Armando knows this mare so well. He broke her in Mexico and the owners have confidence in him. She's run hard here and in Oklahoma so we don't know if she will make another start before Lone Star. We might consider the Sam Houston Classic (on September 1).”

“She was very calm during the post parade and very concentrated,” added Andrade. “She had a strong break and finished well.”

Multiple-stakes winner, First Comment, was sent off as the favorite and was motoring well in the center of the racetrack under rider Rodrigo Vallejo. The 4-year-old colt is owned and bred by Wes Owens and trained by Jeff Acuna, finished second.

“He's been really good, but Rodrigo said he got a little sore at the end,” said Acuna. “I didn't think they were going to catch him, but he got sore after about 400 yards. He was limping off the track pretty good. This was a really good field; that mare can really run.”

Surprisingly Special, the longest shot on the board at 49-1,ran a career-best effort for trainer Judd Kearl and rider James Brooks to finish third. The classy field also included 2005 AQHA World Champion DM Shicago, who finished fourth.

“I don’t really know this horse too well, but that was an incredibly fast race,” said conditioner Heath Taylor. “He didn’t get a bad break, but it wasn’t too good. He got left behind about a length and used up all he had to catch up with them. I talked to Juan (Vazquez) and he said (DM Shicago) warmed up well and felt good and seemed sound and happy. He was ready for the big race. I’m real disappointed that we didn’t finish like we thought we would, but this is a tremendous horse with tremendous accomplishments.”

This Snow Is Cold left the gate as the second betting choice and returned $6.00, $3.80 and $3.00 across the board. The 7-4 exacta paid $13.20 and the 7-4-2 trifecta returned $201.60. DM Shicago, Valors Gold, Gray Invasion, La Jollaroid and I Make Em Shake completed the order of finish.

Sheza Dashing Disco Beats the Boys in the $69,030 Bayer Legend Texas Derby Challenge (G3)

Sheza Dashing Disco, owned by Jodie and Johnny R. Johnson of Tomball, Texas and trained by J. Benny Pennington, won the $69,030 Bayer Legend Texas Derby Challenge (G3). Rodrigo Vallejo, rode the 3-year-old filly to victory in her trial and again in the final. She completed the 400-yard stakes over a muddy track in a time of :19.929.

“We have taken our time with this filly and it has paid off,” commented Pennington. “We are so happy Rodrigo chose to ride her in this final; he is such an underrated rider; one of the best in the country. He fits this mare so well.”

Sheza Dashing Disco ($3.60) earned $34,516 for her victory. El Zapatista was second and Way Up There was third.

My Prince of Strides Repeats in the $24,705 Red Cell Distance Challenge (G3)

Six distance specialists led by defending champion My Prince of Strides competed in the $24,705 Red Cell Distance Challenge. Trainer Matt Baker saddled the 6-year-old, who is owned and bred by Warner Croft of Austin, Texas. He broke well and held on for the victory under rider Jeff Jerman.

“That was a pretty close finish,” said Jerman. “He's a total professional; didn't do anything wrong. Just got a little tired on the end, but he really showed his class. Matt's done a wonderful job with him.”

My Prince of Strides, who was sent off at 13-1 in 2005, was the prohibitive favorite this year, paying $2.60 for the win. He crossed the wire of the 870-yard contest in :44.958. Apollos Dasher was second and Strider Man, full-brother to the winner, ran third.

Eye Caughtcha Peeking Draws Off in the $26,010 John Deere Texas Distaff Challenge

There were no trials for the $26,010 John Deere Texas Distaff Challenge but Eye Caughtcha Peeking lived up to her morning-line favorite status and was an impressive winner under Jose Alvarez. Trained by Bobby Martinez, the 4-year-old Oklahoma-bred filly has won four of her five starts this year for owner Randee Fagan.

“Her previous owner decided to sell her in the Heritage Place sale,” said Fagan. “I bought her and took her home (Del Rio, Texas) and rested her for a year and she came back running. We wanted to qualify her for the national championship and probably won't run her again before Lone Star. Bobby's a wonderful horseman; that's why I sent her to him.”

Eye Caughtcha Peekin covered the 400-yard final in :20.099 and paid $4.20 for the win. Shesastreakinlady was second and The Long Straw completed the trifecta.

$26,280 Professional’s Choice Texas Claiming Challenge

Fastest qualifier Ida Snow Man, owned by Joe and Joyce Platt of Desirable Properties of Wimberley, Texas and trained by Michael Zingelmann, won the $26,280 Professional’s Choice Texas Claiming Challenge. The 3-year-old gelding shot to the front in his final strides and completed the race in a winning time of :17.464. Juan Vazquez, who rode him to victory in the trials, returned for the winning effort

“Not too bad for a $5,000 claiming horse,” said a very happy Zingelmann. “This is a really nice horse. We got him a little late last year and he's done nothing but improve. We ran him in the championship at Remington and had all kinds of bad luck. Truth be told, I think this horse will just keep getting better.”

Ida Snow Man went off as the heavy betting choice and paid $3.40 for the win. He completed his 350-yard sprint in :17.464 over Streak Foe Me and Off The Dasher.

News and Notes

Live handle for the ten-race card was $620,612, the highest of the current Quarter Horse Meeting at Sam Houston Race Park. Live racing resumes on Sunday, July 9 with a post time of 1:30 p.m. The 2006 Quarter Horse Meeting will continue through September 9.

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