Coyote Legend
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Coyote Legend Dominates The $100,000 Star of Texas at Sam Houston Race Park

Houston, Texas (Saturday, January 21, 2012) - Tremendous finishes and a convincing wins from several top Texas-breds made for a thrilling Texas Champions Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park.

The marquee race of the Texas Champions Day card was the $100,000 Star of Texas, presented by Emirates Airlines.

Coyote Legend, who captured the 2009 Groovy Stakes for Clarence Scharbauer, Jr., got the perfect pace set up this evening, returning to the dirt and commanded from the opening bell in the mile and one-sixteenth main track stakes.

“We knew he was the lone speed, and wanted him on the lead,” said Calhoun, via telephone from New Orleans following the race. “The race set up perfectly.”

This was the second consecutive victory in the Star of Texas for Calhoun, who won last year with Taptam.

“He’s very versatile on both turf and dirt,” said Jay Severs, assistant to Calhoun. “We feel that he’s much better on dirt and kind of showed it tonight.”

Veteran rider Cliff Berry was in cruising mode, sending the dark brown son of Gold Legend to the lead, gaining a four-length berth at the top of the stretch and finishing 2 ¼ lengths ahead of Oak Motte at the wire.

“This horse is fast,” commented Berry. “He can go fast for a long ways and that’s kind of the way he wants to do it. That’s what we decided to do and it worked out.”

Chris Landeros ran second aboard Oak Motte for trainer Kellyn Gorder.

“He gave me everything he had,” said Landeros. “I wish they would have pressed the leader, but nobody can go with that horse when he’s on the top of his game.”

Skip a Smile, owned and bred by Rose Mary Chandler of Luling, Texas, and trained by Steve Asmussen, finished third under Luis Quinonez.

“He warmed up fine and was running well, said Quinonez, who rode three winners on the Saturday evening card. “He likes to run from off the pace, but the winner just finished too strong.”

Skip a Smile was named the 2011 Texas Horse of the Year by the Texas Thoroughbred Association. 

"We are so proud of our horses," said Chandler. "I remember the early days when I commuted 140 miles to work and then came home to tend to the farm and the horses.  Things don't happen overnight, but breeding a champion means the world to us."

Gold Legend ($4.40) completed the mile and one-sixteenth Star of Texas in 1:43.45. He added $60,000 to his career earnings and is just shy of $500,000. Calhoun indicated that he will most likely make his next start at Oaklawn Park.

$50,000 Groovy Stakes

Calhoun, Scharbauer and Berry teamed up to win the $50,000 Groovy Stakes with Sword Trick, who was also recently honored as TTA 2-year-old champion.

The gelding son of Early Flyer caught Canigtoo, who was sent to the lead by John Jacinto, at the wire.  Indisputable under Luis Quinonez ran third and Lil Cherokee ridden by Chris Landeros, completed the Bret Calhoun trained superfecta.

This was the second time Calhoun swept the top four spots, with a previous finish in one of the Texas Stallion Stakes at Lone Star Park.

This was the first year that the Texas Champions stakes were allocated to a two-day format. On Friday night, the ladies took center stage with Cowgirl N Up winning the $50,000 Bara Lass for 3-year-old fillies; Joy’s Paradise drawing off in the $50,000 Yellow Rose and Badness scoring in gate-to-wire fashion in the 50,000 San Jacinto Stakes over the Connally Turf Course.

Calhoun had a tough night with his fillies last night at Sam Houston Race Park, but the males came through with flying colors.

“I had some tough beats last night,” admitted Calhoun.  “I think Jay wanted me to stay at Fair Grounds. I am very proud of both of our horses and pleased we could get the wins for Clarence.”

$50,000 Spirit of Texas

Solar Charge owned by H & H Ranch in Horsehoe Bay, Texas, made easy work of his eight rivals in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes. Claimed for $10,000 by Karl Broberg, the five-year-old gelding has won three of his last four efforts.  Rider Glen Murphy was in the irons on the 3-2 favorite, who just edged his stablemate Southern Vintage at the wire, covering six furlongs in1:09.85.

"He knows where the wire is and does it on his own," said Murphy, who was leading rider at Sam Houston in 2000. "Luckily I just held on and had just enough, but they both ran big.”

“We love Solar Charge,” said owner Carolyn Hanik, who was surrounded by over 20 friends and family in the winner’s circle.  “He’s been too much fun since we claimed him. The whole process with Karl has been a great experience and we enjoy the entire team.”

Solar Charge ($3.00) was followed by Southern Vintage, Gold Element and Gold Coyote.  His earnings tonight of $30,000 increased his career bankroll to $207,412 with 9 wins from 22 starts.

$50,000 Richard King Stakes

A field of six 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.

Scrappy Roo, the gritty Texas-bred winner of the 2008 Grade 3 Connally Turf Cup, returns to one of his favorite racing surfaces.  Bred by David Taylor, and owned and trained by Asmussen, Scrappy Roo is a true "horse for the course" at Sam Houston.  Tonight he picked up his seventh win from 13 starts, and his 19th lifetime victory.  

“He’s got a big heart and knows how to win,” said winning rider, Luis Quinonez

"He always shows up and runs well in Houston," said, Darren Fleming, assistant to Asmussen, who saddled the 9-year-old gelding. "This is kind of home for him. I was glad to see him win.”

Dandy's Legacy, trained by Danny Pish, closed for second under Roman Chapa.

“He ran well; just got beat by a better horse,” said Chapa.

Scrappy Roo covered the mile and one-eighth on a firm turf course in a final time of 1:48.77.  He paid $4.80 to win as the second betting choice.

The 2012 Thoroughbred meet continues through Monday, March 12, with post times set for Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.), Sunday (5 p.m.) and Monday (1:20 p.m.). The meet will feature a variety of special events including Dollar Day on February 4, Wiener Dog Races on February 11, Ladies Night on February 25 and Camel & Ostrich Races on March 10. The park will also host a 27-day Quarter Horse Meet from March 22 – May 19.
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