|Waco Hug Tops Stars of Texas Day
Winners at Retama Park
(December 8, 2008) -
Sam Houston Race Park, with the support and cooperation of the Texas
Thoroughbred Association (TTA) and Retama Park, held its annual
Texas Champions Day, a live Thoroughbred racing event featuring
the top Texas racers on Saturday, December 6, in San Antonio at
Retama Park. The signature event celebrated Thoroughbred horses,
trainers, breeders and owners in the Lone Star State, and included
eight stakes races and $450,000 in racing purses. The evening was
full of upsets and surprising winners, providing fans of all ages
the opportunity to see some of the best live racing in the region.
The Texas Racing Commission previously approved the request to
move a portion of The Park’s Thoroughbred racing dates to
Retama Park as a result of damage suffered by the Houston race track
from Hurricane Ike.
The chilly San Antonio weather didn’t stop major victories
for jockeys Luis Quinonez or Eguard Tejera, both of whom took home
three wins for the night. In addition, North American leading trainer
Steve Asmussen took home two top honors - the $50,000 Yellow Rose
Stakes and the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes.
The night’s richest stakes race, the $75,000 Star of Texas
Stakes, was a highly anticipated one featuring nine-year old two-time
champion Sandburr battling it out against a solid field of eight
other horses in an attempt to take home his third consecutive win
in the race. The favorite horse proved to be a worthy opponent but
could not edge out Waco Hug ($11.20), who took first place, or Taksent
who crossed the wire by a neck ahead of Sandburr.
Waco Hug, trained by Danny Pish and ridden to victory by jockey
Jose Figueroa, broke well from the gate and began to turn on the
heat in a strong drive on the outside around final turn, where he
shot past the competition and led down the stretch to cross the
wire at 1:48.14. Taksent rallied at the final turn but did not have
enough in him to overtake Waco Hug’s lead. Sam Houston Race
Park Vice President Eric Johnston and Assistant Racing Secretary
Don Thompson were on-hand to present the winning trophy to Pish,
Figueroa, and owners Tigertail Ranch.
Waco Hug failed twice to win $7,500 non-winners of two lifetime
claiming races as recently as September, but in his previous two
starts Waco Hug won by a combined 15 lengths.
“Three year olds can get good over night,” said Pish’s
wife Sabina in the winner’s circle. “Danny has always
trained the horse the same way. Waco Hug just really got better
the last month.”
Pish admitted he never gave up on his chestnut gelding and then
commented,”Never giving up applies to the horse too. He kept
trying till he got to this level.”
The 1 1/16 mile race's final order of finish was: Waco Hug, Taksent,
Sandburr, C E P A’s Forum, Windy Lou, Dreamsandvisions, Wild
Minstrel, Rare Flyer, and Uncle Rose.
The $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes proved to be an exciting opening
stakes race at Retama featuring six top racers going six furlongs
on the dirt track. The four-year old Asmussen-trained filly Stealth
Cat ($2.80), ridden by Luis Quinonez in his first major victory
of the night, barely broke a sweat from start to finish as she crossed
the line more than 12 lengths ahead of the others. Stealth Cat,
owned by J. Kirk Robinson, earned second place in the 2007 running
of the race, and her much improved performance and speed this year
made her untouchable by the competition. Her final time was 1:11.31.
The race for second place landed Moneyinmywranglers, who finished
third in the 2007 race, slightly more than twolengths ahead of Susan’s
Fancy. Final order of finish was Stealth Cat, Moneyinmywranglers,
Susan’s Fancy, Dixie Dist, Dawali, and Amarula. Classie Baloo,
You Know Who I Am, and Formal Flyer scratched from the race.
The Spirit of Texas featured a $50,000 purse and was captured with
one of the fastest six furlong runs of the evening by favorite Seneca
Summer ($7.20), a seven-year-old brown gelding owned by Barbara
Rehbein. Seneca Summer was guided to victory by Eguard Tejera in
his first victory of the night, with a final time of 1:11.04. Coming
in behind Seneca Summer was Snuck By, who finished in third place
in the same race in 2007, followed by Prince Krimmer, Cocoa Max,
Filet Gumbo, Toga Too, Charles Edwin, Eye Wonder, and Tru Dancing.
The $50,000 Martanza Stakes earned Taptam ($5.40) and jockey M.
Clifton Berry a win by half-a-length in the one mile race over Formal
Flyer in a time of 1:40.76. Taptam settled down the backstretch
and closed quickly on the outside in the final strides to take the
win over six foes. Final order of finish was Taptam, Formal Flyer,
La Estrellita, Light Lace, Bionic Shadow, Monarchos Star, and Classic
The Bara Lass Stakes, offering a $50,000 purse for two year old
fillies, earned jockey Quinonez his second victory of the night
aboard Asmussen-trained Tiffany Royal ($4.60), owned by Heiligbrodt
Racing Stable and Keith Asmussen. The seven furlong race featured
a strong drive out of the gate, with Tiffany Royal taking the early
lead. Close behind down the homestretch was Valid Code, but Tiffany
Royal had a final push that landed her across the wire more than
three lengths ahead in a time of 1:25.96 for seven furlongs. Final
order of finish was Tiffany Royal, Valid Code, Deer Lassie, The
Cat Who, Monica’s Skirmish, Sals Legend, Fourstarattraction,
Streakin’ Nun, and Misty G.
The $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes, a 1 1/16 mile race on the turf
for fillies and mares, earned Quinonez his third win of the night
with four-year old filly Pretty Squall ($4.20), who is trained by
Morris G. Nicks and owned by Don Eberts. She set a well-rated pace
from the start and drew clear of the pack in the upper stretch,
where she continued to run easy and take top honors in a final time
of 1:44.77. Final order of finish for the field of nine horses was
Pretty Squall, Little Axe Leoleta, Issheademon, Senora Tormenta,
Hole in One, Highflyingprices, Counterfeit Halo, Color of Cash,
and Speed Fast.
The $50,000 Groovy Stakes featured the largest field of the night,
with 14 top Thoroughbreds taking to the seven furlong course. Breaking
out of the gate and leading on the inside was Valid Stripes ($34.00),
trained by Amos Laborde and owned by Donald W. Erickson. He easily
maintained his lead and won by 11 lengths in a time of 1:23.94.
Jockey Eguard Tejera pulled off a major upset against the Asmussen-trained
horses, Justwill and Belton, along with second place fniisher He’s
Boy Wonder, trained by Danny Pish, for his second win of the night.
Final order of finish for the field was Valid Stripes, He’s
Boy Wonder, Justwill, Poltergeist, Cuvee Star, Valid Performance,
Pacific Tsunami, Lucky Raja, Expect Smoke, Cashinmywranglers, Border
Cuvee, Gentle Flyer, Our Expectation, and Belton.
The $50,000 Richard King Stakes was the final turf race of the
night, with Rapid Squall ($5.20) and jockey Tejera earning the win
in the 1 1/8 mile race in a time of 1:51.44. The three-year old
brown gelding, owned by Ronald J. Podraza Sr. and trained by Val
Ray Foster, Sr., beat out seven other horses after settling in early
and rallying three wide on the far turn to pass Ablaze With Spirit
and win by one length. Final order of finish was Rapid Squall, Ablaze
with Spirit, Favorite Jazz, Bullet Crane, Joe Peak, Downtown Jones,
Haveuseenthelight, and Mad at Cha.
Saturday night’s Texas Champions Day produced the first million-dollar
handle of Retama Park's current meet. A total of $1,026,551 was
wagered on the ten race card.