Diamond Tres Seis Captures the $114,400 Sam Houston Derby at Sam Houston Race Park

(Saturday, September 8, 2007) - Diamond Tres Seis was the fourth fastest qualifier in trials run on August 25, but was much the best tonight, winning the $114,400 Sam Houston Derby (G2). The Texas-bred gelding is owned by Mercy and Ray Hinklin of Livingston, Texas and trained by Heath Taylor.

This was the fourth Sam Houston Derby win for American Quarter Horse rider Gilbert Ortiz. He won his third edition of the race last year with Fly Corona Cat with wins in 2003 on First N Kool and 2004 with Splendid Sam Perry.

Taylor, who had two of the fastest qualifiers in the final, My First Passion and Diamond Tres Seis. The winner, sent off at 10-1, broke well and powered to the wire of the 440-yard stakes in 21.43 seconds, barely missing the track record of :21.35.

“He ran a huge race,” commented Ortiz. “He was a little flat in the trials, but did everything right tonight.”

“Mercy and Ray’s patience with me and this horse is what made the difference,” said Taylor. “This horse showed run early in his career, but had some soreness in his shoulders as a 2-year-old. We took him home over the winter and gelded him he has really matured.”

Happy Streaker, who was the second fastest qualifier, made a late run under Rodrigo Vallejo for second and Snowy Alibi was third, followed by Taylor’s other colt, My First Passion.

Trainer Janet Van Bebber has won five Sam Houston training titles, trained two AQHA World Champions and was hoping to add another milestone to her illustrious career this evening with a win by Snowy Alibi. He would have been the first horse in the track’s history to capture the Sam Houston Futurity and return one year later with a victory in the Sam Houston Derby.

Snowy Alibi will represent Texas in the Bayer Legend Derby Championships this November at Los Alamitos. Diamond Tres Seis will head to Lone Star Park Paid for the Texas Classic Derby.

Diamond Tres Seis ran a career-high 103 Speed Index this evening and earned $45,760 for his first stakes win. He returned a win payout of $22.00 and keyed a $$67 exacta with Happy Streaker. The trifecta with Snowy Alibi returned $171.80 and fastest qualifier, My First Passion completed the $292 superfecta. Reba Cleata, Fish for Dreams, A Special Stoli and Running Away completed the order of finish. First Signing and Leader Bored were early scratches.

Op Dasher Wins the $24,585 Colors of Houston Futurity

Op Dasher remained undefeated this evening as she won the $24,585 Colors of Houston Futurity (G2) for 2-year-old Paints and Appaloosas. Owned by Jerry Neil Leavell and trained by Bobby Touchet, the chestnut filly won her debut on August 3 and returned to the winner’s circle tonight under rider Arturo Puga. The final time of the 350-yard stakes was :18.239.

Op Dasher was sent off as the post-time favorite and paid $3.60. Action Figure ran second and Hero of Sorts, part of the two-horse entry, was third.

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