Full Field of Turf Sprinters to Run in Saturday's $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park

(Houston, Texas - February 8, 2012) - Saturday's feature at Sam Houston Race Park is the $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes, a five furlong sprint over the Connally Turf Course.

Trelawny, a 5-year-old Florida-bred, had a successful 2011 run at Woodbine, near Toronto, Ontario. Owner John Stavropoulus sent the dark bay son of Three Wonders to trainer Tom Amoss at Fair Grounds in November. In his last race on January 1, Trelawny won a five and one-half optional claimer on the turf, prevailing over Uno Ducksy, another contender in the Champion Energy Services Stakes. The top money earner in the field, Trelawny has banked $311,188 to date and will be ridden on Saturday evening by James Graham.

Another Fair Grounds invader with strong credentials is Southern Style, owned and trained by Maynard T. Chatters. The Louisiana horseman claimed the 7-year-old gelding for $10,000 and Chatters has high praise for the Kentucky-bred son of Forestry.

"He finished his year really well at Evangeline Downs," said Chatters. "We tried to run him on the turf, but couldn't get a race, so all of his wins were on the dirt."

However, he got his chance to return to the lawn in the $75,000 Bonpaw Stakes on December 17 at Fair Grounds. Sent off at 30-1, he began passing his rivals with a solid closing kick, finishing third to 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion, Chamberlain Bridge.

"I was itching to get him back on the turf and he really stepped up for me," stated Chatters, who has given the mount to rider Carlos Marquez.

Southern Style will make his Sam Houston Race Park debut on Saturday evening, but Chatters has been following the racing events in Houston very closely over the last few weeks. His brother, Bernard, saddled And Music Came in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup on January 28.

"Although he has never run on the Houston turf, this is one of the nicest horses in the world," said Chatters. "He will run on any kind of track and has set a track record at five furlongs. He's a cool horse."

Trainer Danny Pish will saddle Uno Ducksy who will be ridden by Roman Chapa.

"The race came up awfully tough, but he's in good form and deserves a shot," said Pish of the gelding owned by Sadie and Ronnie J. Moore. "He ran well at Fair Grounds and I think their turf course is similar to Sam Houston's. Both are nice, deeper turf courses; he should like it."

Great Mills, owned by Millennium Farms and trained by Steve Asmussen, is another horse exiting the Bonpaw. The 4-year-old son of War Chant will be ridden by Chris Landeros, who after winning the 2011 Connally and Jersey Lilly, is looking for his first stakes win of the 2012 meet.

"I haven't ridden Great Mills, but am looking forward to the opportunity on Saturday," said Landeros. "We drew the far outside post, which can be good. You can either go with the first tier of horses, or take back and gradually get into position."

Texas Champions Day winner, Solar Charge a 5-year-old Texas-bred son of Authenticate will run for Karl Broberg and H & H Ranch in Horsehoe Bay, Texas. Rider Glen Murphy, who guided him to victory in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes on January 21, has the return call. The speedy gelding, who was another astute $10,000 claim by Broberg, has won five of his last six starts

 “We love Solar Charge,” said owner Carolyn Hanik, following his win in the Spirit of Texas Stakes. “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.”

Last year, the race was won by 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion, Chamberlain Bridge.  After struggling in his 2011 campaign, the 8-year-old son of War Chant won the $75,000 Bonpaw Stakes at Fair Grounds on December 17. Trainer Bret Calhoun and owner Carl Moore Management LLC, decided to keep their millionaire in New Orleans and will run in the $75,000 Colonel Power Stakes as part of the Louisiana Derby Preview program on February 25.

"The horse is doing well and ran a great race here in December," said Calhoun. "We just felt it was better to keep him in our New Orleans barn and not ship him at this point."

The complete field from the rail, with jockeys: Penney N A Prayer Roberto Villafan;  Trelawny, James Graham; Flat Back, Rohan Singh; Solar Charge, Glen Murphy; Her Man, Gerardo Mora; Winchester Bay, Ricardo Hernandez, Jr.,; Uno Ducksy, Roman Chapa; Great Hope, Larry Taylor; Southern Style, Carlos Marquez; and Great Mills, Chris Landeros.

The Champion Energy Services Stakes will run as the ninth race of the Saturday evening card, with a post time of 10:28 p.m.

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 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.

Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

The first three weeks of the 2012 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting have been completed and Karl Broberg remains in sole possession of first place with wins from 11 of his 38 starters. Broberg won the training title last year and tied with Danny Pish in the 2010 meet. Steve Asmussen is second with eight wins, including the stakes victory by Pleasantly Blessed in last Saturday's $50,000 Jersey Lilly. Joe Offolter is in third place in the standings with seven wins and Brent Davidson follows closely with five top finishes. Mindy Willis, Pish and Calhoun are tied with four winners each.

Glen Murphy, who was the leading rider in the 2000 Sam Houston meet, tops a very competitive jockey colony with 16 trips to the winner's circle. Apprentice Gerardo Mora is second with 13 wins. Last year's runner-up, Chris Landeros is tied with Larry Taylor and Roman Chapa; each have 10 victories to date. Another apprentice, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez and Erik McNeil round out the top riders with seven wins.

In the owner standings, Steve Asmussen, who was honored as leading owner in 2005 and 2010, has four wins. Horses owned by Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. have won three races and a slew of owners including Monarch Thoroughbreds LLC, Hall's Family Trust , Jose Luis Espinoza, Pharme Racing, Ltd., Pat Sheetz, Alvin Wong, Charles P. Hukill and Joe S. Offolter have each won two races this meet.

Jockey Larry Taylor Having a Solid Meet

Larry Taylor had a banner day on Monday, February 6 winning three races on the card. The 44- year-old rider was the leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park in 2007 and was honored as top jockey last fall at Retama Park. Riding in Texas, suits Taylor, who is happily pain-free after shoulder injuries.

"I had a spill three years ago and had chronic pain in my shoulder," explained Taylor. "I could barely lift my arm above my head. Before the meet, I got some really good treatment and finally have no pain."

Since 1987, Taylor has ridden over 12,000 racehorses, winning 1,464 races.  His 1,000th career win took place on January 21, 2006 at Sam Houston Race Park when he guided Rare and Sixy to victory for trainer Brent Davidson.

"I was so glad to win it on a horse trained by the Davidsons," said Taylor. "I go way back with Brent and Colleen; I've been riding for them since they trained Quarter Horses in Oklahoma."

He credits the hard work of his agent, Toby Cathey for booking him on good horses.

"I used to ride for Toby when he trained horses," said Taylor. "He has done a great job for me since taking my book in Texas."

Taylor makes him home in Houston with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, and has recently discovered another passion.

"I started running and try to get 3-4 miles in everyday," said Taylor. "It's like a drug; I love it and can't stop."

In addition to his prominence in Texas racing, Taylor has had many other career highlights. He won the riding title at River Downs in Ohio in 2002 and rode in the 2004 Breeders' Cup World Championships, finishing ninth aboard Gold Storm in the Breeders’ Cup Sprint.

Kentucky Derby Future Wager Offered this Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park

Racing fans interested in placing a future wager on 138th running of the Kentucky Derby will have their chance this weekend.  Sam Houston Race Park will host the first of the three separate three-day wagering pools. Wagering will begin on Friday, February 10 at 11:00 a.m. (CST) and close on Sunday, February 12 at 5:00 p.m.

There will be 23 horses listed as Derby candidates as well as a 24th betting interest, which will cover the mutuel field of all other 3-year-old Thoroughbreds.  Wagers are for win and exacta wagering only, with a minimum $2.00 wager accepted. There are no refunds or substitutions allowed in the event that a horse listed in the Future Wager does not run in the Kentucky Derby.

The second Derby Future wager is scheduled for March 2-4 and there will be one final pool on March 30 to April 1. For more information and live odds on the contenders for the 2012 Kentucky Derby visit www.kentuckyderby.com.

Popular Wiener Dog Races Set for Saturday Night

Sam Houston Race Park will host the 5th Annual Wiener Dog Races on Saturday evening, presented by Champion Energy Services. Houston's fastest Dachshunds will dash from the starting gate in trial heats with the eight finalists competing for a $250 first prize. The popular event attracts a lively group of competitors, who are supported by their families every step of the race and greeted with hugs at the finish line.

Last year's champion, Vito, owned by Jeremy O’Sullivan of College Station will return to defend his title. For more information on this exciting event, visit shrp.com. Contestants families receive free admission and a commemorative racing t-shirt for their Wiener Dog.

LOPE Rebuilding Following Flash Flood

LoneStar Outreach to Place Ex-Racers (LOPE), a wonderful Texas-based non-profit which has successfully transitioned over 800 Texas racehorses into new careers, had a major crisis last month.

On January 25, a very unusual flash flood occurred in the town of Cedar Creek, Texas, just outside of Austin, Texas. Between the hours of 2:00 am and 5:00 am, approximately 7"-9" of rain fell, resulting in massive flooding. The LOPE ranch had nearly six feet of water, and LOPE founder Lynn Reardon, her husband, Tom and their house pets had to be evacuated by rescue boat from their house. Four of the LOPE horses were evacuated from a pasture that had become flooded as well.

The ranch damage is very serious. The LOPE's ranch truck was totaled and their tractor, mowing equipment and other tools were severely damaged or destroyed. Much of the fencing was destroyed and although the barn structure is intact, nearly all of LOPE's stored hay was damaged and had to be discarded and many of the equine supplies and tack items were damaged or lost.

The good news is that all of the LOPE horses are safe; Reardon is making arrangements to have several of them fostered for the next few months while the repairs are underway.

Since its inception in 2003, LOPE has worked tirelessly on over 800 placements, each individually crafted to reflect the personality of the horse and prospective owner. Some of the LOPE graduates have become successful show horses, children’s riding horses or trail riding companions.

Visit the LOPE website www.lopetx.org to learn more about the flood and how to make a donation.
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