-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Leaving On My Mind Runs Big in the $40,000 Texas Heritage Stakes at SHRP

Houston, Texas (March 5, 2005) - A field of ten 3-year-olds were entered in tonight's feature race at Sam Houston Race Park, the $40,000 Texas Heritage Stakes. The winner, with a determined stretch drive, was Leaving On My Mind, owned by George A. Wolff and trained by Danny Pish.

The son of Valid Expectations had an exceptional year in 2004, winning five races, including four consecutive stakes. He was named Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Horse of the Year and will be honored in their annual banquet in Austin this June. Regular rider, Roman Chapa, flew in from Hot Springs, Arkansas, where he is leading in the Oaklawn Park jockey standings. He settled Leaving On My Mind in the early stages of the race and called on him at the top of the lane. The bay gelding responded and drew off by 1 ¾ lengths, completing the one-mile stakes in a final time of 1:39.22.

"He's just a very nice horse," stated Chapa. "He ran his race and is always a push-button horse; I just sat there and was a passenger. Tonight he really showed that he could run with the 3-year-olds."

"He's done everything we have ever asked of him," added Pish. "He's a pleasure to have in the barn and a pleasure to train. His last race was disappointing, but we still thought that he had plenty left and he proved that this evening."

Rider Terry Stanton had to overcome the far outside post position of his colt, Major League. The Paul Murphy-trainee ran second in the $150,000 Sam Houston Texan Juvenile on Texas Champions Day and fifth in the $100,000 Southwest Stakes at Fair Grounds.

"I don't know if (the outside) killed me, but I think it cost me," said Stanton. "We came away really quick and then (the idea was to) just settle in wherever we are. The main thing was to just get him away really sharp and then kind of figure out where everyone was at from there. From way out there where we were at, we had to get over. I think he ran his eyeballs out."

Leading Sam Houston Race Park trainer Steve Asmussen saddled the heavy betting favorite, Smooth Bid. Rider Donnie Meche settled him off the early pacesetters and passed several horses around the far turn, but could not catch the winner.

"We were a little wide into the first turn but I had good position right behind the winner down the backstretch," commented Meche. 'The front end started going a little soon and I just made sure we didn't drop back. When I asked him down the lane I just didn't feel he gave me all he had and it was going to take his best effort to catch that winner."

Leaving On My Mind, sent off as the second betting choice, paid $7.60 to win. The 4-11 exacta returned $53.60 and the 4-11-9 trifecta paid $118.20.

Pancho Tam, El Hielo Hombre, South Beach Boy, Special Sands, My Parade, Through the Storn and Count the Bucks completed the order of finish. Dwight Polite and General Charley were early scratches.

Pish indicated that Leaving On My Mind would make his next start in a Texas-bred stake at Lone Star Park.

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