MAXXAM Gold Cup Set for Saturday, January 27 at SHRP

(January 23, 2007) - The draw for the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup, one of the most prestigious races of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting, will take place on Wednesday.

In its 14th running, the MAXXAM Gold Cup has a rich history of top older horses with past champions including Alumni Hall, Valhol, Mr. Ross and Sir Cherokee. Defending champion, Middleweight is one of the nominees for the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park. Trained by Al Stall, Jr., the 7-year-old son of Grand Slam, came off the pace in last year’s MAXXAM Gold Cup and will ship into Houston from Fair Grounds on Friday. He will be making his second start off a layoff and Stall is optimistic about his chances.

“He tailed off on us a little bit last year,” said Stall. “Our vets found nothing wrong, so we turned him out (last June) and he made his first start back in the Louisiana Breeders’ Cup Handicap (finishing sixth on January 6). It was actually a better race than it appeared on paper. He got pinned on the rail and he is a big free wheeling horse that prefers to be alone on the outside.”

Stall has named jockey Jesse Campbell aboard Middleweight and Christmas Lily, who will run in the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff.

Other nominees include Sandburr, who won the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes on Texas Champions Day as well as the $75,000 Louisiana Breeders’ Cup Handicap on January 6 for trainer Michael Stidham and Mr. Pursuit, a multiple stakes winner at Remington Park, who is conditioned by Joe Petalino.

Steve Asmussen, who has won the Sam Houston Race Park training title a record five times, is pointing More Than Regal to the MAXXAM. The 4-year-old colt, owned by Vinery Stables, has won five of his 12 lifetime starts, bankrolling $543,091. He will enter Saturday’s stakes off a win in the $150,000 Zia Park Derby on December 9.

“This will be his first foray with older horses,” said Asmussen. “He ran against Mr. Pursuit in the Oklahoma Derby (finishing third). It was a fairly roughly run race and he did not have as smooth of a trip as we would have liked. I think the Maxxam will be a good race for him and hope he will run well. ”

Roman Chapa rode More Than Regal at Zia Park and Asmussen confirmed that Chapa will ride the bay colt this Saturday.

“Roman gave him a great ride at Zia and has had a lot of success in Houston,” added Asmussen.

MAXXAM Gold Cup Special Events

Sam Houston Race Park will offer the $500 MAXXAM Gold Handicapping Contest featuring four Sunshine Millions stakes races as well as the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup and the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff. There is no charge to enter the contest, but racing fans must enter by 2:00 p.m.

Sam Houston Race Park is proud to host the 2007 BP MS 150 Kick-Off Party, beginning at 3:00 p.m. on January 27. For more information on racing and activities on January 27, visit or call 281-807-8760.

Sam Houston Race Park Qualifiers Head to Las Vegas

Diane McClyment of Bel Air, Maryland, Steve Lombardo of The Woodlands, Texas and Hulon Sistrunk of Mansfield, California, will represent Sam Houston Race Park in this weekend’s Daily Racing Form/NTRA National Handicapping Championship in Las Vegas.

Currently in its eighth year, the National Handicapping Championship will give regional winners from qualifiers across the country the chance to compete for $850,000, with the winner to receive $400,000 and the title of “Handicapper of the Year”.

This will be the first appearance in the final for McClyment, who won the Sam Houston Race Park contest last October. Her major breakthrough was her selection of Meadow Breeze ($70.50) in the Grade 1 Matron Stakes for 2-year-old fillies. She will be joined by her husband, Mack, who qualified on June 3 in the Midwest Classic.

“I have learned a lot from my husband, but for the most part, we play completely differently,” added McClyment. “One thing we have going for us is that we lived there for 17 years and returning to Las Vegas will not be the distraction for us that it can be for some finalists.”

The two-day tournament kicks off on January 26 at Bally’s Las Vegas.

Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

Larry Taylor continues to lead in the jockey standings at Sam Houston Race Park with 34 victories. He rode seven winners last week and remains in a competitive battle with Roimes Chirinos, who added six wins over the last three days of the meeting. Chirinos is in second with 33 trips to the winner’s circle and Paul Nolan and Filemon Rodriguez are tied for third in the standings with 26 victories each. Bobby Walker, Jr. rounds out the top five riders with 17 wins. He is the leading stakes rider with four stakes victories for the 2006/2007 Thoroughbred meeting.

Bret Calhoun continues to maintain the lead in the trainer standings at Sam Houston Race Park with 23 wins. His runners won three races last weekend. John Locke added two wins last week to remain in second place with 18 victories. Danny Pish moved into third in the standings with 15 wins and Scott Blasi follows with 14 victories. Michelle Lovell, Jim Bausch, Michael Stidham and Jernesto Torrez are tied for fifth with 11 winners each.

Bruno Schickedanz, who shipped 16 horses from Fort Erie under the supervision of trainer Mark Fournier, has taken the lead in the owner standings with seven wins. Stephen R. Baker and Colt Racing, Inc. are tied for second with six wins each. Horsevestors, Nelco Farms, Tbd Owners LLC and Shrum Racing, Inc are tied with five victories and Heiligbrodt Racing Stable, Israel Flores and the Dallas-based partnership of Larry Hirsch and Wayne Sanders have four wins each.

Veteran Popped Corn Wins on Sunday at Sam Houston Race Park

Popped Corn, an 11-year-old, who has raced 31 times at Sam Houston Race Park, won the third race of the Sunday, January 21 card. Bred in Kentucky, the dark brown gelding made his 84th lifetime start for owner Israel Flores and won easily under rider Filemon Rodriguez. Another wily veteran, the 10-year-old Trick Bag ran second.

Jockey Amanda Crandall joined in the winner’s circle celebration for Popped Corn. The Houston native was injured in a starting gate accident last month and underwent surgery to repair two breaks in her ankle. She will not be able to ride for the rest of the Sam Houston Race Park meeting, but follows Popped Corn, who she calls her “favorite horse.”

Huge Pick Six Carryover at Santa Anita for Wednesday

Sam Houston Race Park will simulcast the Wednesday card from Santa Anita and Pick Six players will be chasing a two-day carryover of $723,774. Post time for their first race is 3:00 p.m (CT) with the first race of the Pick Six set for 4:00 p.m.

Ten-Cent Superfecta Pays $13,240 Last Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park was one of the first Thoroughbred racetracks to offer ten-cent superfectas and the wager, who was introduced here on February 17, 2005 continues to be popular with racing fans across the nation.

Many patrons enjoy the wager and the extremely affordable four-horse superfecta box of just $2.40. On Friday, January 19, three handicappers cashed the biggest ten-cent superfecta payout in Sam Houston Race Park history of $13,240. Jockey Larry Taylor guided Noche Ryder ($53.00) to victory for trainer Bill Pettit and owners Nelco Farms. She was followed to the wire by another longshot Miss Mint Julep ($21.80 to place), Prime Heat and Linmeabuck, who left the gate at odds of 69-1. Had the $2 Superfecta been played, it would have returned $264,801, but there were three 10-cent tickets that paid $13,240 each.

February VIP Specials at Sam Houston Race Park

VIP Club Members continue to receive perks, rewards and incentives at Sam Houston Race Park. In February all VIP Club members will enjoy free admission during simulcast hours, before gates open for live racing, plus a free Sam Houston Race Park tip sheet on Sundays. Each Tuesday, members are invited for a free lunch in the Food Court and on Wednesdays, Sam Houston Race Park will host a $100 Valley Race Park Greyhound Handicapping Contest. Thursday is double points day and every Friday members are entitled to discounted Carrels in the Player’s Lounge every Friday when each private betting Carrel is $1 before 8:00 p.m.

There are many great incentives for joining the VIP Club, including free dinner in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant, complimentary Box Seats and many other great rewards.

To become a VIP Club member, visit the Players Lounge located at the North end of the Grandstand on the Paddock Level. For more information about the benefits of the VIP Club stop by the Players Lounge or call 281-807-8278.

Simulcasting this Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park

The fifth Sunshine Millions, the series of eight races worth $3.6 million in purses, will showcase California and Florida-bred Thoroughbred racehorses at Gulfstream Park and Santa Anita, on Saturday, January 27.

Sweetnorthernsaint was installed the 9-to-5 favorite for next Saturday’s $1 million Sunshine Millions Classic at Gulfstream Park. The Classic is one of four Sunshine Millions races to be run at Gulfstream Saturday while four other races in the Florida-bred vs. California-bred series will be contested that afternoon at Santa Anita. In addition to the Classic at Gulfstream, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Turf, $300,000 Sunshine Millions Filly & Mare Sprint and $250,000 Sunshine Millions Dash for 3-year-olds, will highlight the card at the South Florida racetrack.

Lava Man, who has bankrolled $3.7 million in his career, will compete in the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Turf at Santa Anita. The other three stakes at Santa Anita are the

$300,000 Sunshine Millions Sprint, the $500,000 Sunshine Millions Distaff, and the $250,000 Sunshine Million Oaks at six furlongs for 3-year-old fillies.

The $250,000 Santa Monica Handicap for fillies takes place this Sunday at Santa Anita and the $100,000 Mac Diarmida Handicap will be contested on the Sunday afternoon card at Gulfstream. For a complete list of simulcast tracks and post times, visit or call (281) 807-8740.

Sam Houston Race Park is Host Site for Cirque du Soleil Event This Spring

Sam Houston Race Park is pleased to announce it will be the host site for a unique and exquisite entertainment experience. Cirque du Soleil will present its latest live touring production, Corteo beginning Thursday, March 22, 2007.

Corteo, which means “cortege” in Italian, is a theatrical production of a clown’s imagination and presents a world of fun, comedy and spontaneity. The clown pictures his own funeral taking place in a carnival atmosphere, watched over by quietly caring angels. Juxtaposing the large with the small, the ridiculous with the tragic and the magic of perfection with the charm of imperfection, the show highlights the strength and fragility of the clown, as well as his wisdom and kindness, to illustrate the portion of humanity that is within each of us. The music carries Corteo through a timeless celebration in which illusion teases reality.

The cast brings together 55 artists from 16 different countries and made its debut in April, 2005 in Montreal, Canada. The amazing production has visited 11 cities throughout Canada and the United States. The Houston show will open on Thursday, March 22, 2007 and continue through Sunday, April 15. Corteo will be held under its trademark blue-and-yellow Grand Chapiteau in the parking lot of the northwest Houston racetrack. Tickets are on sale now and may be purchased by calling Admission Network at 1-800-678-5440 or online at

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