-photo by Sandra Beck/Coady Photography
Catalissa Returns to the Winner's Circle in the $40,000 Spring Stakes at SHRP

Houston, Texas (March 20, 2004) - Houston Texan owner Bob McNair has a rising star off the football field, his 4-year-old colt, Catalissa, who captured tonight’s feature race, the $40,000 Spring Stakes.

Bred in Texas by Stonerside Stable and trained by Michael Stidham, Catalissa has now won three stakes races at Sam Houston Race Park, improving his record to four wins from eight starts at the northwest Houston racetrack. As a two-year-old, the son of Tale of the Cat won the $50,000 Groovy Stakes and returned to the winner’s circle in the $35,000 Texas Heritage Stakes last March. Tonight’s win was impressive as the bay colt surged past his six rivals, crossing the wire of the seven-furlong contest in a time of 1:22.56.

Ted Gondron, who has done a fine job for Stidham throughout the 2003/2004 Thoroughbred Meeting, was given the call this evening and had nothing but praise for Catalissa.

"I knew he was pretty talented and I was just trying to get him to relax," said Gondron. "He was well placed throughout the race and I had a lot of horse left coming down the stretch."

Catalissa was saddled this evening by Rigoberto Rosas, assistant to Stidham, who oversees the Sam Houston Race Park based Thoroughbreds. Rosas was not sure where Catalissa would make his next start.

Veteran stakes runner, Won C C was sent to the lead by John Jacinto and tried admirably to hold off the winner. The six-year-old gelding is owned and trained by Dr. Kamal Sheena.

"He gave me everything he had," admitted Jacinto. "Doc had him ready and he waited until I asked him. I could see we had Front Nine beat and then that other horse just came closing. He dug in but could not hold him off. He ran a great race."

Sheena indicated that Won C C will make his next start in the Premiere Stakes on opening day at Lone Star Park.
Post time favorite, Front Nine was reunited with jockey Cathleen Garner, who rode the bay gelding to victory in the 2001 Friendship Stakes at Louisiana Downs. Owned and bred by Ed Few, Front Nine has won nine of his 29 lifetime starts for trainer Tommie Morgan.

"He was so ready coming out of that five furlong race at Delta and he ran easy on the front," said Garner. "I saw my name on the overnight on the computer from home and thought "there must be a mistake! I drove in the next day and Tommie told me it wasn’t a mistake that since he knew I wanted to ride him. He may have won at six furlongs but we both knew that seven was not his distance."

Morgan conceded that seven furlongs might have been a stretch for Front Nine. He will give him 30 days off and head to Lone Star Park with the Texas Million Sprint on Memorial Day Monday his next major objective.

Catalissa, sent off as the third betting choice, paid $9.00 for the win. The 6-2 exacta returned $71.00 and the trifecta with Term Sheet paid $259.40. Front Nine, Herve, Leo’s Last Hurrahy and Senaca Rock completed the order of finish. Agrivating General was an early scratch.

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