|Fastest Qualifier Valors Gold Wins
the $89,910 MBNA America Texas Challenge Championship at SHRP
(Saturday, May 29, 2004) - Fastest qualifier Valors Gold,
returned to the racetrack tonight and in commanding fashion, captured
the $89,910 MBNA Texas Challenge Championship (G1). The son of First
Down Dash is owned by Claudio Aguilar of Edinburg and trained by
Sam Houston Race Park leading rider, J. R. Ramirez had the mount
and was impressed with his victory tonight.
"I thought Gone Celebrating and Gray Invasion would be tough,"
admitted Ramirez. "This is a very fast horse and he's been
training awesome. "Tonight he was really good in the gates.
In the trial, he had some trouble, but finished well. Tonight he
left well and never let up."
Valors Gold, sent off as the second betting choice behind Sam
Houston Race Park 2003 Horse of the Meet, Gone Celebrating, won
in gate-to-wire fashion, covering 440-yards in a time of :22.004.
He earned $44,955 for the victory and a berth in the $300,000 MBNA
America® Challenge Championships on Saturday, November 6, which
will be held for the first time at Sam Houston Race Park.
"He's a fast horse," said Aguilar. "We've owned
him for two years and Frank's done a great job. We're looking forward
to running him in November in the final, but will probably run him
in another big race, possibly the Sam Houston Classic."
Gone Celebrating, owned by Bobby D. Cox of Fort Worth, ran second.
John Hamilton rode the son of Meter Me Gone, and felt that his break
from the gate cost him the win.
"He was standing a little too close (to front of gate) but
I didn't want to take chance on having (the assistant starter) make
him take a step back, so he didn't fire away from there like he
can," said Hamilton. "He seems to shift gears three or
four times, accelerating each time - but that other horse was gone."
Buchanan didn't try to make an excuse.
"We got outrun, didn't we?" stated Buchanan. "He's
still a little tentative on that bad foot, every time we put on
a patch, it stings him. He needs about 12 weeks for it to finish
growing out, and we will watch for another qualifier and hope to
get him qualified for the final."
Buchanan had some consolation in that his other qualifier, Snow
Warning, owned by Marilyn and James Helzer, finished third.
"I'll check with his owner and see what he wants to do,"
commented Buchanan. "We may try to qualify him somewhere else
or just stick with races here. He is sound and useful."
Valors Gold paid $7.80, $3.60 and $2.40 across the board.
The 4-6 exacta returned $24.00 and the 4-6-2 trifecta paid $83.80.
Gray Invasion, Mr Nokona, Hesa Lil Bit High, Heza Fast Cowboy, Roll
Easy, Mr Bar Code and Famous Signature completed the order of finish.
$24,570 MD Barns Texas Distance Challenge - G3
Eight distance horses put on a show in the $24,570 MD Barns Texas
Distance Challenge. The winner, with a driving finish at the wire,
was Run and Pray, trained by John Buchanan and ridden by John Hamilton.
The 5-year-old Texas-bred American Quarter Horse is owned by Bobby
D. Cox of Fort Worth.
Seek N Destroy was the fastest qualifier from trials run May 14
and went out to a four-length lead before Run and Pray found his
stride and closed powerfully. He completed the 870-yard distance
in a time of :46.224 and paid $4.80 for the win.
"He's never been a horse to run with early speed," said
"He's the kind of horse that wants to run his race, but if
he's healthy, he's not going to let a horse beat him. He knows where
the wire is."
"Very few Quarter Horses can finish the way he can,"
added Hamilton."He beat a great group of horses."
"Not much to say about a race like that," said Danny
Lavergne, the rider of runner-up, Seek N Destroy. "He just
didn't hang on."
"We decided to try him around the hook since his daddy Calyx
was a good hook horse," added trainer James Gerhards. "
We were kind of surprised when he won his first two so easy. That
was a horse race and a tough one to lose."
Run and Pray paid $4.80 for the win and keyed the $11.00 exacta.
Zachs Hero was third and Joe Task, Durability, Amor Lijero, Special
D Dash and Tks Legs Diamond completed the order of finish.
News and Notes
Chris Kotulak, from TVG was live at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday
evening. He hosted a live telecast of the MBNA Texas Challenge Championship
and the MD Barns Texas Distance Challenge with interviews of the
winning connections of both stakes. TVG will also broadcast live
at Sam Houston Race Park on Sunday, featuring the Bayer Legend and
Professional's Choice Texas Claiming Challenge.