Dixie Meister and Pass Rush Lead Noms for the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park

(January 12, 2006) - Nominations have closed for the MAXXAM Gold Cup on Saturday, January 21, 2006 at Sam Houston Race Park. The ten-race card will also feature the $40,000 Sam Houston Distaff for fillies and mares.

The MAXXAM Gold Cup has a rich history at Sam Houston Race Park. Previous champions include the Oklahoma-bred Mr Ross who became a millionaire with his victory in the 2002 edition of the race. In 2003, the MAXXAM Gold Cup attracted three horses that had competed in the Grade 1 Kentucky Derby, Valhol, Arctic Boy and Fifty Stars. The 7-year-old Valhol, who had dogged the controversy surrounding his win in the 1999 Arkansas Derby, was brilliant in his MAXXAM victory for trainer Dallas Keen and owner James D. Jackson.

Last year, the MAXXAM Gold Cup belonged to Alumni Hall, a son of A. P. Indy, conditioned by Neil Howard and ridden by Robby Albarado. The striking chestnut Thoroughbred is owned noted Texans, Will Farish, W. Temple Webber and James Elkins. He just competed in the $435,000 New Orleans Handicap on January 7 at Louisiana Downs and will not defend his title in the MAXXAM Gold Cup.

The mile and one-eighth stakes closed with 29 nominations and one horse that is likely to run in the MAXXAM Gold Cup is Dixie Meister, who is off to a flying start in 2006. Bred in Texas by Ken and Linda Quirk, Dixie Meister was just named Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding by the Texas Thoroughbred Association. Owned by Ro Parra’s Millennium Farms and trained by leading Sam Houston Race Park conditioner Steve Asmussen, Dixie Meister has always run well at Sam Houston Race Park, capturing the $125,000 Jim’s Orbit last February and the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes on Texas Champions Day, which was held on November 19. He outran his odds of 32-1 in last Saturday’s Grade 2 New Orleans Handicap, running second to Brass Hat. (G2) on January 7.

Another notable nominee is Pass Rush, a 7-year-old Indiana-bred who has bankrolled $576,335 in his racing career. Owned by Swifty Farms and trained by David A. Vance, Pass Rush competed at Sam Houston Race Park in 2002 in the Great State Challenge, finishing second to Continental Red in the $275,000 Great State Challenge Classic. He had two stakes wins last year at Hoosier Park and regular rider Terry Thompson is likely to make the trip to Houston.

The draws for the MAXXAM Gold Cup and Sam Houston Distaff will take place on Wednesday, January 18. Post time for the Saturday, January 21 card is 7:00 p.m. A free MAXXAM Gold Cup handicapping seminar with Scott Ehlers of the Daily Racing Form and Martha Claussen of Sam Houston Race Park will be held at 7:00 p.m. on the Club Level Stage.

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