Native Annie
-photo by Henna Haroon/Coady Photography

Native Annie
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

There Goes Rocket
-photo by Henna Haroon/Coady Photography

There Goes Rocket
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

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

Houston, Texas (December 27, 2003) - Sam Houston Race Park finished off the 2003 racing year in style, hosting two divisions of the $125,000 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.

The two stakes produced exciting races with dramatically different outcomes. In the filly division, the lightly-raced Native Annie won her first stakes in just her second career start, while There Goes Rocket clinched Texas Thoroughbred Association 2-year-old Champion Colt honors with his win in the colt and gelding division.

In the 2-year-old filly division, Native Annie scored an impressive win for the home team as she is bred and owned by Robert McNair's Stonerside Stable. Ridden by Curt Bourque, Native Annie was making just the second start of her career and covered the one-mile distance in a time of 1:40.70.. She broke her maiden at Sam Houston Race Park on November 19 and trainer Michael Stidham had enough faith in the Texas-bred filly to enter her in stakes company tonight.

"This filly showed a lot in her training coming into that first race," said Stidham. "We had confidence in her and felt that she could come back in this spot. Curt did a good job in getting her back into position, letting her relax and making her run. He did a very good job. John Adger (bloodstock manager for Stonerside Stable) has put together a good Texas racing program with the McNairs and now it's starting to come together for us."

The daughter of Manzotti broke awkwardly and spotted the field over three lengths before Bourque got her in stride
"It’s a pleasure riding for the McNairs and Mike Stidham," said Bourque. "She is a real good filly. She overcame a bad break, stepped back at the start but still had enough run in her to overcome the field."

"We’re very proud of her," commented Adger. "We hope she’s the second coming of the great Texas-bred filly, Two Altazano, who’s also by Manzotti and trained by Mike. She won graded stakes all over the United States. Native Annie is a filly that we have watched and seen her mature. She looked it in the paddock and showed it on the racetrack tonight."

Marxie, trained by Danny Pish, ran a nice race and finished second. Jeremy Collier rode the daughter of Marked Tree.

"I had a real good trip," commented Collier. "My filly broke really aggressively and I let her go just a little bit. I wanted to try to get her to relax so as soon as we got along the backside, I got her to bring her head down to me a little bit and let the speed go. And she relaxed on the course really well and when it came to the homestretch, I asked her to run and she ran. I think the filly is just getting better and better and don't think these horses can beat her next time."

Trainer Pish shared Collier’s sentiments about her effort tonight.

"The filly ran a beautiful race," said Pish. "She relaxed for us. Still has room for improvement. I guess that's what I like the most about it. Certainly you run second in a $125,000 race and you're not disappointed in your filly when she makes an effort like that. She relaxed much better, but still has room to relax more. I'm so proud of the improvement she's done, but even more excited about the fact that there's room for more."

Sago, owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and trained by leading Sam Houston Race Park conditioner, Steve Asmussen, was sent off as the favorite, but tired and finished fifth. Native Annie paid $9.00, $6.20 and $4.60 across the board. The 3-2 exacta returned $97.60 and the trifecta with She's a Deputy Too, paid $693.40. Hay Lauren, Sago, Hay Ana, Texas Gold Digger and Natty Dreadlock completed the order of finish.

Despite her fourth place finish, Hay Lauren, owned by Ro Parra of Austin, Texas. clinched 2-year-old Texas Thoroughbred Filly of the Year honors. Hay Lauren has won four of her seven career starts, including stakes wins in the Friendship Stakes at Louisiana Downs and the Texas Stallion Stakes last June at Lone Star Park. She will be honored on January 17 in the annual TTA Awards Banquet, which will be held at Sam Houston Race Park.

In the colt and gelding division of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes, There Goes Rocket won and solidified his position as Champion 2-year-old colt. The son of Valid Expectations is owned by Frank Fletcher of Little Rock, Arkansas and trained by Sam David, Jr. He won the first three races of his career, including a victory in the $122,000 Texas Stallion Stakes on June 28 at Lone Star Park. He was a fast closing second in the $50,000 Groovy Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park on November 15, which was run at 7 furlongs. Veteran Louisiana-based jockey E. J. Perrodin made the trip to Houston to ride There Goes Rocket and was happy to avenge his loss in the Groovy Stakes last month.

"Well, I was just a little disappointed in the Groovy because my horse was the best horse in the race and we had all kinds of trouble and just got beat at the wire," said Perrodin. "Tonight we were going a little bit further and I had him where I wanted and we just took care of business. Today he proved that he likes to go two turns. He was staying in his left lead but they finally I got him back into his right lead and when he did, he took off. He was impressive today."

"We were happy to stretch out tonight," said David. "The way he closed in the 7/8 of a mile Groovy Stakes we thought that the extra eighth of a mile would really help us. He worked exceptionally well coming into this race and we are very happy that Mr. Fletcher let us take our time with him and bring him along. We’re real proud to have the Texas Champion 2-year-old."

"Last time we were here was a heartbreaker because we lost by four inches and needed the distance," added Fletcher. "It’s very exciting for us. If you know how to lose, you learn to how to love to win!"

There Goes Rocket who won the one-mile stakes in a time of 1:38.48 and paid $4.80 for the win. Roundabout Jones, the winner in the $50,000 Groovy Stakes on Texas Champions Day at Sam Houston Race Park, ran second. Owned by Steve’s father, Keith, the son of Seneca Rock was ridden tonight by Jeremy Beasley.

"We went for the lead and said ‘the 2 is going to have to come catch us" - and the 2 did," admitted Beasley. "We got outrun by a faster horse tonight. My horse ran his race and dug in near the end but was just outrun."

"I thought he ran a good race," added Asmussen. "I was proud him. That’s a nice horse that beat him."
Stonerside Stable’s Sling Shot ran third with Curt Bourque in the irons.

"I had a great trip," noted Bourque. "He was out there running, but he's just a little immature. He had an excellent trip. The colt just needs a little more experience. His light's not coming on yet, to keep it simple. Once he gets seasoned and knows what it's about, I think he can compete with these kinds of horses."

There Goes Rocket, sent off as the second betting choice, returned $4.80, $2.20 and $2.40. The 2-3 exacta returned $7.40 and the 2-3-1 trifecta paid $44.00. The order of finish included Late Expectations, Woodmeister, Expect Justice, Sandbag and Bowdoin.

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