-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
|Lasting Bubbles, Scooter's Choice and Smiles Golden Song Shine on Opening Night at Sam Houston Race Park
Houston, Texas (Friday, January 17,2014) - Live racing returned to Sam Houston Race Park this evening, and three Texas Champions stakes highlighted the ten-race card. Texas-bred fillies and mares took center stage in the $50,000 Bara Lass for 3-year-old fillies; the $50,000 Yellow Rose for older fillies and mares and the 50,000 San Jacinto Stakes on the Connally Turf Course.
Lasting Bubbles Goes Gate-to-Wire in the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes
The first stakes of the evening was the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes, with defending champion Cowgirl N Up taking on seven rivals at the distance of six furlongs. Judy Peek's Lasting Bubbles was sent to the lead under rider Fabio Arguello, Jr. and held off the late closers to capture her second stakes of the year. Trained by Ken Peek, the 6-year-old mare held off a game effort from My Golden Belle with Jeremy Collier in the irons.
"She had done well on turf, but we were looking to get her back on the main track," said winning trainer Peek. "I was holding my breath that she would hold on and couldn't be more pleased to have Fabio ride."
Lasting Bubbles covered six furlongs in 1.12.46 and returned $4.00 for the win. Longshot My Golden Belle, trained by Andy Konkoly, ran a game second to complete the $100 exacta, and Nurse Goodnight ran third.
Scooter's Choice Returns in Fine Form for the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes
The $50,000 Bara Lass featured a full field 3-year-old fillies at a distance of six furlongs. Trainer Bret Calhoun has had success bringing back horses off a layoff, and he did it again this evening with Scooter's Choice. The daughter of Too Much Bling, owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, made her debut last May at Churchill Downs and was shipped to Lone Star Park, where she ran third in the TTA Sales Futurity on July 6. Lindey Wade, who won the riding title here in 2011, had the return call, and was very impressed with her front-running score.
"I'm so thankful to be back in Houston," said Wade. "The filly ran a tremendous race. She got a little hot in the post parade, but I got her to calm down. We got a good second quarter and were able to finish well."
Jay Severs, assistant to Calhoun, saddled Scooter's Choice, and was also impressed that she was able to win her first stakes in commanding fashion.
"Nice filly coming off the layoff; big effort from her, no doubt," said Jay Severs, assistant to Calhoun. "These are great owners; we've had several super horses with them."
Sanders and Hirsch owned several notable Texas Champions, including Taptam, winner of the 2011 Star of Texas Stakes and Chief of Affairs, who won the 2009 Spirit of Texas Stakes.
Scooter's Choice crossed the wire in 1.11.93 and returned $18.80 as the third betting choice. Post time favorite Bakken Baby ran second under Junior Chacaltana and Discreet Girl overcame a troubled start to close for second with Deshawn Parker in the irons.
Apprentice David Cabrera Victorious in the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes
A competitive field of fillies and mares took to the Connally Turf Course for the mile and one-sixteenth San Jacinto Stakes.
Smiles Golden Song, owned by Sylvia Baird, won the Fiesta Mile on the Retama Park turf course, and validated her affinity for the lawn in a driving finish for her second stakes victory. It was the first win at Sam Houston Race Park for apprentice David Cabrera
"This was my first win ever at Sam Houston," said Cabrera. "She's a pretty nice filly. She loves the turf."
Trainer Larry Stroope saddled the 5-year-old daughter of My Golden Song, who has now won six of her 10 turf career races.
Defending champion, Vilao, owned by Rugged Cross Racing, closed with authority under jockey Ramon Luna, defeated Smiles Golden Song last year, but could not catch her tonight.
"I was very pleased with the way she ran tonight," said Luna. "She ran big after being off for almost a year."
Smiles Golden Song ($4.00) covered the mile and one-sixteenth feature in 1:44.66 over the firm turf course. Vilao closed for second and Green Briar Kitty, at odds of 52-1, was a game third.
Texas Champions Weekend continues on Saturday evening with four stakes. The card will include the $50,000 Groovy Stakes, $50,000 Richard King Stakes, $50,000 Spirit of Texas and the $50,000 Star of Texas Stakes.