|Straus Stakes Loaded With Quality To Open 2002 Thoroughbred Meeting
Selma, Texas (July 31, 2002) - Nine horses, with quality top to bottom, are entered for the six-furlong J.R. Straus Stakes Friday night at Retama Park. Director of Racing Larry Craft assigned co-top weight of 123 pounds to Boots on Sunday, a five-year-old gelding, with the leading jockey Roman Chapa in the irons.
This field might be the best ever assembled in the seven-year-history of the Straus Memorial. In fact, Craft speaks positively about the over all quality of the 1,200 horses stabled in the track's barn area.
"It really is remarkable when you consider our fields for this Friday night's opening program," Craft said. A total of 120 horses will line up for ten races with a 14-horse field in the fifth heat. "We expect top-quality full fields every night we race this year," said Craft. But the Straus is icing on this giant size cake, and the players know it and appreciate it.
I have been coming to Retama Park since 1995," said veteran horseplayer Jim Wagner of Bulverde. "The stake race is wide open with good horses, and I love the full fields. When you cash a wining ticket the payoffs are generally bigger because the money is spread out over the large field and you get higher odds."
Boots on Sunday had been one tough nut for the past three years. Trainer Danny Pish, who has made a habit of winning the Retama Park's Leading Trainer Title, saddled "Boots" eight times in 2002 and racked up over $132,000 in earnings. His latest was a heart stopping second in the $150,000 Iowa sprint when Boos on Sunday missed by only a nose to crack runner Sand Ridge. Boots on Sunday has garnered almost $400,000 for owner Wilton E. Scott.
Ski Bum, a recent $50,000 claim by Paul Duhon at Lone Star will carry 123 pounds as well. And then there is the Asmussen factor.
Steve Asmussen is very keen on winning the national training title in 2002 and has 36 top-flight runners in the barn at Retama Park. Friday night he will saddle four-year-old Term Sheet, a Kentucky bred coming off two straight allowance wins a Lone Star. Asmussen won leading trainer title at Lone star in 2002 and wins races in bunches wherever he goes. Asmussen currently has large strings at Saratoga, Arlington Park and Louisiana Downs.
Friday night's first post is 6:45 pm. Gates open at 10:00 am for simulcasting. The highlight on the national simulcast schedule is the return of War Emblem on Sunday at Monmouth Park. The Kentucky Derby and Preakness winner is scheduled to race in the $1,000,000 Haskell on the Jersey shore.