Leading Owner Geral DeWitt
-photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photo
Leading Trainer Janet Van Bebber
-photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photo
Leading Jockey J. R. Ramirez
-photo by Jeff Coady/Coady Photo
|Gone Celebrating Voted Horse of
the Meeting for the 2003 Sam Houston American Quarter Horse Season
Houston, Texas (September 10, 2003) - Sam Houston Race
Park announced the winners of the End of the Meeting Awards for
the 2003 Quarter Horse season that concluded on Saturday, September
Trainer John Buchanan had a wonderful season and Gone Celebrating
was voted Horse of the Meeting. Owned by Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth,
Gone Celebrating won two stakes races in the 2003 American Quarter
Horse meeting, the $45,000 Classic Chevrolet Stakes (G3) on July
25 and the $60,500 Sam Houston Classic (G2) on August 29. The 4-year-old
son of Meter Me Gone was impressive in the Classic Chevrolet where
he defeated a competitive field including Panther Mountain, who
went on to win the MBNA Challenge Championship at Prairie Meadows.
His victory in the Sam Houston Classic was noteworthy in that he
triumphed over Zookie Street, winner of the MBNA Texas Challenge
Championship and stakes winners, Dashing Obsession, Silent Overdrive,
Turfinator and Randys Pop Pop.
"He is a really good horse who has gotten better with age,"
replied Buchanan when asked about Gone Celebrating’s success
this year. "He ran well in the Classic Chevrolet, but in the
Sam Houston Classic, he really wanted it. You could see that he
would just not give up."
Buchanan indicated that Gone Celebrating, who also was awarded
Champion Older Horse and Champion Texas-Bred honors, will make his
next start in the Refrigerator Handicap at Lone Star Park. Buchanan
and his wife, Iris, reside in Peaster, Texas, were thrilled that
Gone Celebrating was honored as top Texas-bred of the meeting.
"We like to race in Texas and are proud that our horses have
done so well here," said Buchanan.
No Fees, the diminutive gray filly who captured the $253,050 TQHA
Sales Futurity (RG1) was named Champion Filly/ Mare of the Meeting.
Purchased at the 2002 TQHA Yearling Sale by Buchanan and Cox for
$20,000, No Fees won each of her five starts this year. She won
her trial for the $300,000 Sam Houston Futurity, but suffered a
slab fracture and was unable to compete in the final. She underwent
surgery in Elgin on August 26 and is expected to return to the track
in six months.
"I just spoke to Dr. Lewis and we will go pick her up (in
Elgin) tomorrow," said Buchanan. "He said that the surgery
went really well. His exact words were that she had a ‘really
good prognosis for a bad situation’. We will keep her in her
stall for sixty days and then turn her out."
Jack Zee Quick, the fastest qualifier in trials for the $300,000
Sam Houston Futurity (G1) and winner of the richest race of the
2003 American Quarter Horse meeting, was named Champion 2-Year-Old
of the Meeting. Trained by Ronald Gilmer, the 2-year-old son of
Royal Quick Dash is bred and owned by Dallas Blakely and R.P. Stuart
of Fort Worth, Texas, he was brilliant in both starts this meeting.
In the trials with rider Nickey Laws aboard, Jack Zee Quick won
impressively in gate-to-wire fashion, completing the 400-yard trial
in a time of :19.956. He was the only Quarter Horse in trials for
the Sam Houston Futurity to break twenty seconds.
"He’s a racehorse," contends Gilmer. "He
has run perfectly at Sam Houston. He was by far the fastest qualifier
in trials and even though he got bumped in the finals, he was still
much the best. He’s the kind you dream about; he’s for
The recipient of the Champion Distance Horse of The Meeting was
Get Solid, a 4-year-old gray colt owned by Fred Yamaguchi of San
Antonio and trained by Heath Taylor. The Texas-bred distance specialist
overcame the far outside post position to win the $43,000 Governors’
Cup Marathon at Sam Houston Race Park on August 30. He has been
a horse to reckon with since he scored a ten-lenth win at Sam Houston
Race Park last August and has finished first or second in his last
"I really appreciate the award and thank everyone very much,"
said Taylor. "He ran a phenomenal race. I was concerned when
we drew the 8 hole. He stumbled a bit coming out of the gate, but
he ran fast. We were very thrilled with his performance."
Owner of the Meet honors went to Geral Dewitt of Garland, Texas,
for the second year in a row. Geral and his wife, Frances, won 20
races this season and racing remains very much of a family affair
as their son, Anthony Arey, trains their horses. A Flying Leader,
a 5-year-old mare, owned by Dewitt and trained by Arey, was honored
as Claimer of the Meeting. A Flying Leader ran four times at Sam
Houston Race Park this summer, winning three in a row and placing
second in her first start.
"She’s a well bred and nicely built mare," said
Dewitt. "She’s had a lot of races, eight this year and
we have been careful not to drop her (in class) too far because
we think that she’ll make a nice broodmare."
The Dewitts have won leading owner titles at Retama Park, Manor
Downs and Lone Star Park and were pleased with their success at
Sam Houston Race Park.
"We had more horses run this year than last," said Dewitt.
"Anthony had 32 stalls at Sam Houston and he did a good job
picking the right spots. I wish we could have had more stakes winners
but we are proud of all of our horses and always appreciate the
claimers that have come from nothing and win."
Trainer Janet Van Bebber won the Leading Trainer title for the
third consecutive time. Her record for the summer was 31 wins, 33
seconds and 17 third place finishes. It was a bittersweet season
for the California-native, who trained two AQHA World Champions,
Tailor Fit and Streakin Sin Tacha. Tailor Fit, owned by Betty Jane
Burlin, was retired this summer and honored in a ceremony at Sam
Houston Race Park on September 5. Streakin Sin Tacha was injured
defending his title in the MBNA Texas Challenge Championship on
July 12. The injury necessitated surgery, but all went well and
the accomplished gelding, who is both trained and owned by Van Bebber,
is back in training.
"This is our third year to win the training title here,"
reflected Van Bebber. "It never gets old; it is always special.
God has blessed me and I have a lot of good people that work very
hard for the stable. We are proud of this accomplishment."
J. R. Ramirez was also a repeat winner as the Leading Jockey of
the 2003 American Quarter Horse meeting. The 22-year-old native
of Laredo, Texas, concluded the meet with a record of 55 wins, 51
seconds and 35 third place finishes. His mount won a total of $289,721.
Ramirez, who won the title last year with 42 wins, credits his good
start in the beginning of the meet with making the difference in
defeating veteran rider Gilbert Ortiz, who finished with 47 wins.
"I think I was off to a great start since the Louisiana boys
(Ortiz, Alvin Brossette, John Hamilton, Nickey Laws and Alfonso
Lujan) stayed over there for three weeks," said Ramirez. "I
got a pretty good advantage. I think I won seven races the first
weekend and seven the second weekend. I had, I think 20 races ahead
of everybody. I just tried to keep going. There were some weekends
I got a little low and a little high. It ended pretty well; last
week I won nine races. It turned out good."
Live Thoroughbred racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park
on Thursday, October 23, 2003. The 2003/2004 Thoroughbred meeting
will continue through Saturday, April 10, 2004.
2003 American Quarter Horse Award Recipients
Horse of the Meeting – Gone Celebrating
Champion Texas-Bred – Gone Celebrating
Champion 2-Year-Old – Jack Zee Quick
Champion Older Horse – Gone Celebrating
Champion Filly/Mare – No Fees
Champion Distance Horse – Get Solid
Champion Claimer – A Flying Leader
Leading Owner – Geral DeWitt
Leading Trainer – Janet Van Bebber
Leading Jockey – J. R. Ramirez