|Middleweight Pushes Aside his Competition
in the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park
Houston, Texas (January 21, 2006) - Trainer Al Stall, Jr.
couldn’t make the trip to Houston from Louisiana, but he liked
what he saw via simulcast as Middleweight captured the $100,000
MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park.
The 6-year-old son of Grand Slam benefited from the early scratch
of Dixie Meister as well as a well-timed ride by rider Gerard Melancon
as he came from off the pace to win the mile and one-eighth stakes
in 1:52.02. Melancon, who won the 1998 MAXXAM Gold Cup aboard Scott’s
Scoundrel, was happy to guide Middleweight to victory tonight for
owners Stewart M. Madison and Peter Gaffney.
“He has trained well over the track, and last time he ran
over the dirt he won,” commented Melancon. “He’s
good enough to compete with these horses, and we thought we had
a great chance. He was comfortable the whole way, and I didn’t
see a reason to drag him back. He was happy. I think we suit the
(Connally Breeders’ Cup) just fine. It is a mile and an eighth
and I’ve won it before, as well as Mr. Stall and Mr. Madison.
I’m pretty sure that’s where we’ll make our next
The trainer was reached via phone following the race and concurred
with Melancon’s assessment of both tonight’s performance
and returning for the Grade III Connally Breeders' Cup Turf on April
"We weren't worried about going from turf to dirt,”
said Stall. “He runs well on the main track and loves the
distance of a mile and one-eighth. We liked this race and were happier
when we heard the news about Dixie Meister; we felt we had a great
shot when he scratched. Middleweight is a textbook outside stalker
and the race tonight set up perfectly for him. As far as the Connally,
you can pencil us in; actually you can use ink. We are going to
keep him in the South and will run him in the Connally in April."
Robby Albarado, who rode last year’s MAXXAM winner, Alumni
Hall, was aboard the 7-year-old Pass Rush. He was in the lead in
the early going, but weakened in the final furlong and finished
“It was so easy, I felt like I was in a cannon and just galloping
along,” said Albarado, who won five races at Louisiana Downs
this afternoon. Galloping a mile in (1:39.27) is really kind of
slow for these kind of horses. He had a great trip, but I don’t
know what happened. It wasn’t my plan to take the early lead,
but no one else wanted it, so I just kind of inherited it. I was
fine with it. Going that slow, I don’t mind being in the lead
Matched, trained by Leroy Hellman, rallied nicely under rider Glen
Murphy, for a respectable second place finish.
“My horse left the gates great,” stated Murphy. “I
just relaxed behind the leaders right in the middle, right where
I wanted him. He rated really nicely and waited on me to call on
him. When I called on him, he gave me his heart. He ran a winning
race. He just got beat. He loved the distance, and he never gave
up. I love this horse.”
Middleweight, sent off as the second betting choice, paid $5.60
for the win. He earned $60,000 tonight, increasing his lifetime
bankroll to $290,130. Seainsky ran third followed by Lonesome Launch,
Pass Rush, Dusty Spike, Breakaway, Sandburr, Toratora, Doctor Doctor
Mrmd and Twilight Vision. A crowd of 6,163 enjoyed the MAXXAM Gold
Cup card and $1 beer. Total live handle for the ten-race card was
Culinary Closes for Victory in the $40,000 Sam Houston
The first stakes of the evening was the $40,000 Sam Houston Distaff,
a 1 1/16 mile contest on the main track. A field of 9 fillies and
mares ran, and Culinary, owned by Jack H. Smith III Thoroughbreds,
prevailed in an exciting stretch duel with Lucky Sabre. The 4-year-old
filly is conditioned by Michael Stidham and was ridden to victory
by Carlos Marquez, Jr. The final time, on a fast track was 1:46.35.
This was a role reversal from last year when the Steve Asmussen-trainee
Academic Angel, nosed out Stidham’s Native Annie at the wire.
Stidham had a great deal of confidence in Culinary who won the $75,000
Fur Sail at Louisiana Downs on December 17, but ran seventh when
she attempted stakes company the very next week.
"We ran her back closer than we normally like to, but Jack
and I talked about it and decided to take a shot (in the $75,000
Truly Bound),”commented Stidham. “She was a little bit
aggressive and cranky and just didn't run her race. Today she was
back to what she could really do."
"In the previous last couple of races, she's been a little
rank early,” added rider Marquez. “She settled well
today and when I pushed the trigger, she was there. She had almost
a month off after her last race and Mike did a great job getting
her back to her old performance."
Owner Jack Smith, who runs the majority of his Thoroughbreds in
Kentucky and the Midwest, was very pleased with the performance
of the gray filly this evening.
"I loved her race and loved what she did at the end because
she wouldn't let the other horse by her,” said Smith. “I
thought she got tired in her last race, but she's growing. We might
set her up for a big number before long."
The Steve Asmussen-trainee Lucky Sabre had to settle for second
under Gerard Melancon.
“I knew the one (Ballroom Deputy) and the five (Culinary)
were the two horses to beat,” said Melancon. “I got
a little jump on (Ballroom Deputy) going into the last turn, and
I was only three wide around a couple of horses. My filly was nice
and relaxed, and she gave me everything. She just got outrun today.”
Robby Albarado, had the mount aboard third-place finisher, Ballroom
“I got kind of stuck around the turn a little bit, and lost
some momentum there,” recalled Albarado. “But she got
out there and ran her best. She’s more comfortable on the
outside, and gets a little intimidated on the inside of the horses.
Circumstances would have been wonderful, but I was stuck there the
whole way around.”
Culinary paid $5.40 as the even-money favorite. Bonnie J ran fourth
followed by Miss Confusion, Cookin’s Cast, Capotiada, Timber
Jones and Oswego.Jockey
Larry Taylor Gets his 1,000th Win Tonight
Larry Taylor won the 1,000th Thoroughbred race of his career tonight
at Sam Houston Race Park. Taylor won the milestone in the second
race, piloting Rare and Sixy ($4.20) to victory for trainer M. Brent
The 38-year-old rider is the leading rider at the northwest Houston
racetrack with 41 wins so far in the 2005/2006 Thoroughbred meeting.