|Scrappy Roo Returns to SHRP's Connally Turf Course on Texas Champions Day This Saturday
(Houston, Texas - January 20, 2011) - Live Thoroughbred racing returns to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, January 21. Opening weekend is highlighted by Texas Champions Day on Saturday featuring seven stakes for accredited Texas-bred racehorses.
The Saturday evening card features two stakes on the Connally Turf Course, named for the late Governor John B. Connally, whose support of pari-mutuel racing paved the way for racing in the Lone Star State.
A field of nine is entered in the $50,000 Richard King Stakes, for four-year-olds and upward at a mile and one-eighth. Brentwood Bullet, owned and bred by Equi-Par, Inc. and trained by Morris Nicks, has been installed as the 3-1 morning line choice. The six-year-old son of Broken Vow will be making his 14th career turf start and first at Sam Houston. Nicks looks for the turf veteran to rebound from his ninth-place finish at Fair Grounds on December 16.
"He had been off a while and was a little too fresh in his comeback," said Nicks. "I think he will like the turf course in Houston; it's similar to the softer surface at Fair Grounds."
Nicks commented that Brentwood Bullet's running style will depend on the pace, noting that his trainee has won on the lead at a mile and one eighth, but is also comfortable making a late run. Rider Kirk LeBlanc has the mount.
Scrappy Roo, the gritty Texas-bred winner of the 2008 Grade 3 Connally Turf Cup, will be one of Brentwood Bullet's toughest competitors. Bred by David Taylor, Scrappy Roo is a true "horse for the course" at Sam Houston with six wins from 10 starts including a runner-up effort in the 2009 Richard King. Claimed last May by Eclipse Award winning trainer Steve Asmussen, Scrappy Roo won an optional claiming turf race on January 3 at Fair Grounds, drawing off to a three length victory.
"We were very proud of that effort," said Asmussen, who owns and trains the eight-year-old gelding. "He is an older statesman with a ton of success, especially on the Houston turf course."
"I am glad that Steve had the foresight to see that he still has talent," said Taylor. "Scrappy Roo is a great racehorse and continues to be a true Texas Champion."
The field, with riders, from the rail out includes Wajir on Me, Cliff Berry; Midway Tap, Benny Landeros; Skip a Smile, Lindey Wade; San Turnero, William Hollick; Brentwood Bullet, Kirk LeBlanc; Scrappy Roo, Chris Landeros; Valid Message, Quincy Hamilton; Theatrical's Halo, Eguard Tejera and Dubai Falcon, Amanda Crandall.
The other Texas Champions Day turf event is the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes for fillies and mares. The mile and one-sixteenth stakes attracted a field of ten with Brent Davidson's The Cat Who to break from the far outside post as the 3-1 favorite. The five-year-old mare, owned and bred by Tommy Joe Hoyt has faced tough company, including Wasted Tears in the Grade 3 Ouija Board last May at Lone Star Park. She won her last race at Remington Park in front-running fashion and has bankrolled $188,841 to date.
"We like her chances," said Sarah Davidson, who is assistant trainer to her father. "She won a nice allowance at Remington and we got Ciff Berry to ride for us."
Kite Seeker has the experience edge in the field with seven turf wins. Trained by Karl Broberg, Kite Seeker will reunite with jockey Quincy Hamilton. Jiggy Jo, ships in from Delta Downs for trainer Chad Hassenpflug and makes her turf debut in the San Jacinto Stakes. Maymeister, bred by Stonerside Stable, drew the rail post and will be ridden by Lindey Wade.
Post time for Texas Champions Day is 7:00 p.m. with ten races on the evening card. The seven stakes include the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes (post time: 7:26 p.m.); $50,000 Groovy Stakes (post time: 7:51 p.m.); $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes (post time: 8:18); $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes (post time: 8:41 p.m.); $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes (post time: 9:10 p.m.); $100,000 Star of Texas presented by Emirates Airlines (post time: 9:36 p.m.) and the $50,000 Richard King Stakes (post time: 10:02 p.m.).
The 2011 Thoroughbred meet continues through Monday, March 7th, with post times set for Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.), Sunday (5 p.m.) and Monday (1:20 p.m.). Live American Quarter Horse racing will start on Friday, March 11th and run through Sunday, May 15th with races every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For the full calendar of Sam Houston Race Park’s 2011 live race dates, visit www.shrp.com.
Texas Champions Day News and Notes
Calhoun and Asmussen Face off in the Grade 3 Lecomte Stakes:
Saturday will be a busy day for Bret Calhoun and Steve Asmussen as both will run 3-year-olds in the Grade 3, $100,000 Lecomte Stakes, one of six stakes races slated as the Fair Ground's Road to the Derby Kickoff Day. Asmussen saddles rising star and 7-5 morning line favorite Justin Philip for Zayat Stables and Calhoun will run Action Ready, a Kentucky-bred owned by longtime Texas clients, Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch.
Jockey Paul Nolan Returns to Action:
Paul Nolan, the leading rider last year at Sam Houston Race Park, returns to ride full time for the first time since he was injured at Canterbury Park on July 2. Nolan underwent months of rehabilitation from an injury to the T-12 vertebrae.
"I'm feeling good and am happy to be back with friends in Houston," said the 48-year-old rider who was born in Rugeley, England.
Nolan won 66 races in the 2009/2010 Sam Houston Thoroughbred meet to win the title over Chris Landeros (53) and Eguard Tejera (49).
Bullet Crane Retired:
One of the most intrepid Texas-bred racehorses in Sam Houston history, Bullet Crane, was retired last year. The 9-year-old made 81 starts including running in four editions of the Richard King on Texas Champions Day. Trained by Brent Davidson for owner Stephen Whiting, the bay gelding will stay in the Davidson barn as a lead pony, according to Sarah Davidson.
Cool Clear Evening Forecasted for Saturday:
The last two weeks in Houston have been less than pleasant with rain and freezing weather. However, the outlook for Texas Champions Day is excellent with clear skies with a high of 61 degrees expected for Saturday evening.