-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
|Four Texas Champions Weekend Stakes Contested at Sam Houston Race Park
Houston, Texas (Saturday, January 18,2014) -
The $50,000 Groovy Stakes has been a great springboard for young colts and geldings and was the first of the four stakes contested Saturday evening.
Aces N Jacks, a half-brother to Cowgirl N Up, was a game winner for owner and trainer Caroline Dodwell. The son of Jet Phone broke his maiden on November 16 at Retama Park, but ran ninth in his second start. A minor lung infection was to blame and the dark bay returned in top form this evening.
"He kind of faltered in his last start, but we knew not to give up on him," said Dodwell. "My stepson Scooter has done a great job with him."
Larry Taylor was aboard for the victory, sending the dark bay to the lead and was never pressured. He crossed the wire of the six furlong event in 1:11.39, over four lengths ahead of stakes winner Circustown Flyer and Me Commanche.
Overlooked by the betting public, Aces N Jacks returned $19.40 for the win.
Texas Air Cruises in the $50,000 Star of Texas
Trainer Danny Pish was hoping for another big effort from Special U F O in the one-mile $50,000 Star of Texas. The 4-year-old son of Special Rate was seeking his fifth consecutive win for owners Southwestern Racing LLC, but the win streak was snapped tonight with a dominant performance by Texas Air.
Allen Milligan conditions the 6-year-old gelding for owner/breeder Paul Rigali, Jr. He won impressively in an allowance last month at Retama Park under rider Dakota Wood, who set his sights on Special U F O in the early stages of the one mile feature.
"Every time I asked this horse to accelerate, he did," said Wood. "I really appreciated the connections giving me this opportunity. It means a lot."
"We bred this horse here in Texas and are very proud of him," said Regali. "Allen has done a wonderful job."
Texas Air ($3.80) crossed the wire in 1:39.46, increasing his lead to 2 ¾ lengths over Safe Range, the second Pish trainee. Wampas Kitty ran third for trainer Clifford Dodson.
"He tried and ran well in the first half mile, but hated the pressure," said rider Junior Chacaltana of Special U F O’s uncharacteristic loss.
Triumph and Song Takes the $50,000 Spirit of Texas
Rider Junior Chacaltana had a much better result in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes guiding Triumph and Song ($3.00) to a decisive victory in gate-to-wire fashion. The 5-year-old was claimed by trainer Karl Broberg for $40,000 at Churchill Downs. He won for new owners H & H Ranch on December 13 at Fair Grounds and showed even more potential this evening.
"He did it easily," said his rider, of his final time of 1:10.06.
"Karl told me we would win and that is all I needed to know," said owner Carolyn Hanak of Beaumont, Texas. "We love running at Sam Houston Race Park."
Solar Charge, who won the 2012 edition of the Spirit of Texas Stakes, ran second for the second year in a row. Wagson, with Lindey Wade aboard, picked up the third place check.
Quiet Acceleration Takes Top Honors in $50,000 Richard King Stakes
A field of nine took to the Connally Turf Course in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes, for 4-year-olds and upward at a mile and one-eighth.
Danny Pish's, homedbred Quiet Acceleration, ridden by Roman Chapa, closed out the Texas Champion Weekend stakes with a decisive win. He had prepped for the Richard King with a victory over the Retama Park turf course last month, and ran exceptionally well this evening.
"I had a lot of horse under me, that's for sure," said Chapa. "The pace was slow and he just dragged me to the front. When the hole opened mid-turn, he gave me all he had. Inside the sixteenth pole, I knew we were home free."
Pish was in New Orleans tending to Got Shades who ran in the Grade 3, $200,000 LeComte Stakes, so his son, Joe Dan, accepted the trophy and was pleased to say a few words.
"He's a very reliable horse; our barn horse," said Joe Dan. "He makes the money for the family."
This was the eighth win from 26 starts for the 5-year-old son of Silent Picture, who ran fifth in last year’s Richard King.
Quiet Acceleration ($12.00) covered the mile and one-eighth on a firm turf course in a final time of 1:52.69. Valid Message closed gamely under jockey Glen Murphy followed by Wild Slew.
$400,000 Houston Ladies Classic on Saturday, January 25
Sam Houston Race Park will present another exceptional evening of racing on Saturday, January 25. The $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the richest Thoroughbred race in Texas headlines the card, which will also include three additional stakes: the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup, the $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes, and the $50,000 Allen's Landing Stakes. The marquee racing event will be broadcast on HRTV, "The Network for Horse Sports" and FOX Sports Southwest.
The draw for the four stakes will take place on Tuesday, January 21 and advance wagering for the card will be offered on Friday, January 24.
The Park will donate $1 for each patron to benefit the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen®. This is the second year that Sam Houston Race Park has joined forces with this highly respected charity.