Native Annie
-photo by Christie Smith/Coady Photography

There Goes Rocket
-photo by Coady Photography

Native Annie and There Goes Rocket Win Their Divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes

Houston, Texas (February 14, 2004) - Love was in the 36 degree air tonight at Sam Houston Race Park as the northwest Houston racetrack celebrated Valentine’s Day and the running of two divisions of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes. The series is underwritten by the Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) and was designed as an incentive for offspring of Texas-based stallions.

In the filly division, Native Annie ($2.80) executed an effortless performance to capture her third consecutive career start for owner Robert McNair and trainer Michael Stidham. Bred in Texas by McNair’s Stonerside Stable, Native Annie returned to the track tonight following her win in the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes on December 27. She was ridden tonight by Robby Albarado, who had a victory earlier in the day aboard Shadow Cast in the Silverbulletday at Fair Grounds. Albarado guided the bay filly to an easy score, covering the 1 1/16 mile stakes in a final time of 1:48.84. She drew off by 8 3/4 lengths over the muddy main track.

"This was pretty easy for her," said Albarardo. "I talked to Mike and to Curt (Bourque, who had ridden her on December 27). He told me a lot about her and how well she runs. She’s an attribute to Texas breeders; she’s really nice. This has been a great year for me. If they all won like this, I could ride for many more years."

Native Annie was making just the third start of her career. She broke her maiden at Sam Houston Race Park on November 19 and has remained here training since her victory in the December Texas Stallion Stakes.

"There’s some good Texas money here and that’s what our goal was," said Stidham. "John Adger (bloodstock manager for Stonerside Stable) and I talked about this before she ever started and she’s just showed her class in both of last two races. I would like to commend our assistant here, Rigoberto Rosas. He’s handled this filly here in Houston for us and done a great job."

"I think that she’s shown that we can try open company," commented Adger. "Mike and I will talk it over with Bob and plan her next start. We’re happy we were able to secure Robby, the winner of the George Woolf Memorial Award, to ride this evening."

Marxie, trained by Danny Pish, ran second. Kevin Cogburn rode the daughter of Marked Tree for owners Barbara Strasser and Sandra Russell.

"I had a good trip," said Cogburn. "My horse got away pretty good. She got up there really close. The four horse was just too much when she came around."

Pish admired the outstanding effort of his filly against the undefeated Native Annie.

"I thought it was a good trip; a good effort on the filly’s behalf," commented Pish. "Kevin handled her well. I think that (Native Annie) is in a league of her own. She's really just a top filly. My filly ran a good race. She's been in training quite a while, since she was a yearling. And I think we haven't seen the best of her. I think she's due a little rest. I was very pleased with the second."

Expect A Surprise, under Terry Stanton, rallied for third.

"I didn’t have the trip I wanted," said Stanton. "I thought there would be more speed in the race than there was but it didn’t open up for me until the top of the lane. I had to start and stop several times and I think that may have cost me second. She is a nice filly with a good future and will be even better with more experience. "

Hay Lauren, She’s A Deputy Too, Lacey Dawn and Happy Jazz completed the order of finish.

In the colt and gelding division of the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes, There Goes Rocket returned to the winner’s circle. The son of Valid Expectations is owned by Frank Fletcher of Little Rock, Arkansas and trained by Sam David, Jr. Bred by Texas horseman, Ed Few, There Goes Rocket was honored as Texas Thoroughbred Association Champion 2-year-old colt and was making his first start of 2004 this evening.

Veteran Louisiana-based jockey E. J. Perrodin made the trip to Houston to ride There Goes Rocket and prevailed in a riveting stretch duel with Stonerside Stable’s Sling Shot, who was ridden by Robby Albarado.

"At first he was trying to get comfortable on the muddy track, said Perrodin. "I had a lot of horse, but when we hooked up with Robby Albarado, he gave me everything he had. He tries everytime he is on the racetrack. I have to tip my hat to (Slingshot) that horse of Stidham’s."

"We’re very proud of the colt," said David. "We thought we had the best horse in the Groovy (on November 15) and just got beat. Tonight, Stidham ran a great race at us, but our colt moved to him and showed his guts. That’s the difference between a good horse and another good horse and this one likes to win."

"We wanted to come back here tonight to show our appreciation to the Texas Thoroughbred Association for naming us 2-year-old Colt of the Year," added Fletcher. "We like being part of Texas racing and I want to say hi to Chris Kotulak."

Sling Shot, who ran third in the December 27 Texas Stallion Stakes, ran an excellent race for trainer Stidham, who removed the blinkers for tonight’s race.

"He really ran a big race," said Albarado. "The winner has more experience than him and he didn’t really dig in until we were passed. He relaxed well and finished strong."

There Goes Rocket paid $3.20 for the win and covered the 1 1/16 miles in a final time of 1:47.64. Sling Shot completed the $13.80 exacta and Woodmeister rallied for third. Roundabout Jones, C U Later Deviator and Gee He’s Grand also ran in this division of the Texas Stallion Stakes .

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