Several Defending Champions Return on Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston Race Park

(Wednesday, November 16, 2005) - The draw took place today for Texas Champions Day, one of the biggest days of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting. This showcase event for Texas-bred racehorses will take place on Saturday, November 19 with the first race set for 7:00 p.m.

Trainer Steve Asmussen, who has been honored as leading trainer at Sam Houston Race Park a record five times, has a total of eight horses competing in five of the Texas Champions Day stakes. He captured each edition of the Bara Lass for 2-year-old fillies from 1998 - 2003 and has two entrants in the seven-furlong contest on Saturday, Abilena and Willing Woman. They will run as an entry for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, whose previous champions in the Bara Lass include Sago (2003), Louetta (2000) and Richbabe (1998).

Asmussen will also be prominent in the $50,000 Groovy Stakes, for 2-year-old colts and geldings. Upstream and Down Home Boy will run as an entry for William S. Farish. Lonnie Meche will ride Upstream and Roman Chapa has the mount on Down Home Boy. The third Asmussen contender is New Comer who is owned by Israel Flores and will be ridden by Glen Murphy.

“Upstream was second in the Texas Stallion Stakes,” said Asmussen. “Down Home Boy was an impressive maiden winner and New Comer had to overcome traffic in his last start and ran a pretty good race.”

Three Horses Seek Back-to-BackTitles on Texas Champions Day

Defending champions will be represented in three of the Texas Champions Day stakes races on Saturday. In the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes, Charming Socialite, trained by William Pettit and bred and co-owned by Pettit and Paul Sutton, is the 5-2 morning- line favorite. Honored as the 2004 Texas Thoroughbred Association’s Champion 3-year-old colt/gelding, Charming Socialite has won stakes at each of the Texas racetracks with regular rider Larry Taylor aboard. His most recent victory was the $40,000 Buffalo Bayou on November 5 over the Connally Turf Course.

“Ideally, I like him to have 3 weeks in between races,” said Pettit. “But, he is defending champion and we think he can handle six furlongs off a two-week rest. He doesn’t always get the attention he deserves, but he gives 100% every time he runs.”

In the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes for fillies and mares over the Connally Turf Course, defending champion, Marfa’s Taxes will make her first start for trainer, Steve Asmussen. The 8-year-old mare was claimed for $25,000 last month from owner Jeffrey Kass and has been installed as the 3-1 favorite in the San Jacinto.

Goosey Moose, will not defend his title in the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes, but trainer Danny Pish will saddle Agrivating General for owner Lonnie Bates. However, Record Assembly, bred and owned by Charles Hukill, was the winner in the 2003 edition of the Star of Texas. He won in a dead-heat with Desert Darby, the first and only dead-heat in Texas Champions Day history. Omar Rodriguez will ride Record Assembly on Saturday and the 5-year-old gelding may outrun his odds of 10-1.

Late Expectations won the $50,000 Richard King Handicap over a yielding Connally Turf Course last year and returns under new colors. He will race for Anjo Racing and trainer Andy Konkoly. The 4-year-old gelding and 2003 champion, Classoffiftyseven, will have to contend with Northern Scene, installed as the 5-2 morning line favorite. Trained by Morris Nicks for owner Don Eberts, Northern Scene has never run at Sam Houston Race Park, but has five turf wins, including his most recent victory in the $100,000 Texas Hall of Fame Stakes at Retama Park on October 1. Lonnie Meche has the mount.

Advanced Wagering for Texas Champions Day

Sam Houston Race Park will offer advanced wagering on the entire Texas Champions Day card on Friday, November 18. Gates open at 10:30 a.m. for simulcasting and the first Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred race is set for 7:00 p.m.

Doug Supernaw Concert and T-Shirt Giveaway Set for Texas Champions Day

In addition to the exciting racing action, Sam Houston Race Park will welcome patrons with a free concert and long sleeved t-shirt. The evening of the Texan experience will begin with a live concert with Doug Supernaw. Supernaw is well known for tender hits such as, “The Note,” “Reno,” and “I Don’t Call Him Daddy.” The country artist will perform from 5:00-6:30 p.m. then Matt Mead will provide musical entertainment between each of the ten live races. The first 3,000 patrons to pass through the admission gates at 5:00 p.m. will receive a free t-shirt, courtesy of the Houston Coca-Cola Bottling Company.

Also, track announcer Michael Chamberlain will host a free handicapping seminar with special guests, Denis Blake of the Texas Thoroughbred Association and Mary Rampellini with the Daily Racing Form. The seminar will take place at 6:00 p.m. on the Club Level Stage.

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