Snow Me Takes Fastest Time in Texas Classic Derby Trials at LSP

(Friday, November 14, 2003) - Snow Me was the fastest qualifier in Friday night’s Texas Classic Derby trials, but favoritism in the Grade 1, $362,925 race on will likely go to Oak Tree Special, who earned a shot at winning his fifth Derby of the year. The 10 fastest times recorded by 3-year-old American Quarter Horses in four trial races at Lone Star Park advanced to the lucrative final scheduled two weeks later on Nov. 28 at the Grand Prairie, Texas racetrack.

Snow Me, third in his first Grade 1 attempt four weeks ago, the Dash For Cash Derby, covered 440 yards in a swift :21.542 to record the fastest time of the night in the third heat. Oak Tree Special’s time of :21.618 in the final trial ranked fourth.

Oak Tree Special, owned by Raul Rubalcava of Wylie, Texas, and trained by Bobby Martinez, entered the week as the fourth ranked Quarter Horse in the nation. He’ll make an argument to move up the poll when he pursues his eighth straight victory in the Texas Classic Derby. His triumphs include wins in the Dash For Cash, Remington Park and Retama Park Derbies – all Grade I events.

“He’s definitely the best I’ve ever had,” Martinez said.

Overall, Oak Tree Special has won 14 of 20 starts and $399,732.

Jim Helzer’s Snow Me, meanwhile, collected his fifth victory in 12 starts, but seeks his first stakes win. Prior to his Dash For Cash Derby third, the “Sleepy” Gilbreath trainee was ninth in the Grade 1 All American Derby at Ruidoso. On Friday, he broke alertly en route to a powerful three-quarter length win over fellow qualifier Red Dog Leader.

“We’re really elated with this horse,” Helzer said. “Hopefully we can get a break like that in the finals one of these times.”

The complete list of qualifiers: Snow Me (:21.542, owned by Helzer, trained by “Sleepy” Gilbreath and ridden by Roy Baldillez); Streakin La Tac (:21.574, Jim Pitts, Jack Brooks, Jacky Martin); Southern Cartel (:21.606, Bill Price, Eddie Willis, Larry Payne); Oak Tree Special (:21.618, Rubalcava, Martinez, J.R. Ramirez); Prime Talent (:21.676, Sylvia Pitman and Bill Stanley, John Buchanan, Juan Vazquez); Storybook Lover (:21.678, Jack Evans Jr., Gilbreath, Baldillez); Special Red Warrior (:21.710, Severino Gonzalez, Brooks, Martin); Red Dog Leader (:21.712, Bobby Cox and Buchanan, Buchanan, Vazquez); Granite Lake (:21.859, Bob Hardy, Ross Hardy, Tad Leggett), and Dazzling Reflection (:21.876, James and Marilyn Helzer, Gilbreath, Baldillez).

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