Five Thrilling Stakes Races Highlight the Texas Summer Showdown at SHRP

(Friday, July 25, 2003) - Sam Houston Race Park hosted one of the most exciting nights of the 2003 American Quarter Horse meeting, the Texas Summer Showdown. The ten-race card featured five stakes races for accredited Texas-breds and purses in excess of $175,000.

The $23,850 John Deere Texas Challenge featured eight American Quarter Horse distance specialists. The winner, in commanding fashion, was Special D Dash ($10.80) for owners Karen & Robert Nunnally of Macon, Georgia. The 4-year-old son of Pure D Dash had no problem overcoming the far outside post, winning by 13/4 lengths, covering the 870-yard distance in a time of :45.700. Rider John Hamilton, who had three wins on tonight’s card, had the mount for trainer Danny Eldridge.

"He was quite the best horse today," said Hamilton. "It was a close call going down the backside. I didn’t know if I could get to the front or not. I knew it was more than I could handle and saw how tight it was stacked up so I called on him to go the outside and he responded. I never really had to call on him. This is a really special win for us. We suffered a loss in our stable. Danny Martin passed away in a car accident a couple of weeks ago. I think we all know he is in Heaven."

Hamilton returned to the winner’s circle in the next race, capturing the $45,500 TQHA 550 Stakes aboard Yawls Signature ($20.00). The 5-year-old son of Vital Sign is owned by Larry Hibberd of Corinth, Texas and trained by Faith Price. He was the winner of the $15,500 Harrisburg Handicap on July 6 and both Price and Hibberd sensed he was ready to run a big race.

"He is just an outstanding horse," said Price. "He has just come around and just gets better every time. We (Price and Hibberd) get together on where we are going and when. I call the shots on when! We talk it over; we have a real good relationship and just work things out. We are going to try for an 870-yard race next time."

The $45,500-added Barnmaster Sprint Stakes (RG3) at 250 yards, drew a competitive field of eleven. The winner was Turfinator ($18.60) owned by Kathleen Matey, of Corpus Christi and trained by Jesse Yoakum. His son, Jerry Lee Yoakum guided the 7-year-old son of Runaway Winner to his second Barnmaster victory in three years. They received permission from the stewards to leave the paddock early as the tempermental gelding does not like delays.

"You just have to keep him happy," admitted Jerry Lee Yoakum. "He’s a little weird about some things and hasn’t done anything wrong in a long time, but you don’t want to take your chances. The inside post was no problem. When he leaves there like that, it’s hard to outrun him."

The $21,600 TQHA Starter Stakes, a 550-yard contest, was another exciting race with Dashtothe Millennium ($5.60), owned and trained by Robert L. "Bobby" Moore, emerging victorious. This was the fourth straight win for the handsome gray, riddne by Sam Houston Race Park leading rider, J. R. Ramirez.

"He is really quiet at home and in the stall, but when he is running, he is all business," said Moore. "I used to be a sports coach, and he is a head coach’s dream. We’ll see how he looks tomorrow. I’d like to keep winning, so I won’t move him up too much yet."

The $45,000 Classic Chevrolet Stakes (G3) drew eleven starters competing at a distance of 400 yards. The winner was Gone Celebrating ($5.60), owned by Bobby Cox of Fort Worth, Texas and trained by John Buchanan. The 4-year-old son of Meter Me Gone was an impressive winner on June 20 at Retama Park, capturing the Texas Hall of Fame Stakes. He won his second stakes in a row tonight with regular rider, Juan Vazquez up, covering the 400-yards in a time of :19.790.

"I’m lucky to have a good owner who has some excellent Texas-breds," commented Buchanan. "This horse has responded very well for us and we’re proud of him."

The Texas Summer Showdown Weekend continued on Saturday morning at Sam Houston Race Park with the 2003 TQHA Yearling Sale.

News and Notes

The evening began with three trial races for the TQHA Sires’ Cup Derby and Snow Warning from the barn of John Buchanan, was the fastest of the 28 qualifiers. Owned by Marilyn & James Helzer, the 3-year-old gelding completed the 400-yard distance in a time of :20.124. Rider Juan Vazquez was in the irons.

Snow Warning and the other nine qualifiers will return to Sam Houston Race Park for the finals of the TQHA Sires’ Cup Derby on Friday, August 8.

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