|Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint Champion Chamberlain Bridge Dominates in the $75,000 Rail Splitter Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park
Houston, Texas (February 12, 2011) - Mother Nature has been cruel to many states this winter and not very kind to racing. Freezing weather forced cancellations at many tracks in the country including Friday, February 4 at Sam Houston Race Park. However, she did one favor for Houston racing fans by delivering a fast, firm turf course which attracted Chamberlain Bridge to the $75,000 Rail Splitter Stakes.
The seven-year-old was expected to defend his title in the $60,000 Colonel Power Stakes at Fair Grounds, but rain has forced many races off the turf in the past several weeks. Trainer Bret Calhoun and owner Carl Moore of Fort Worth, Texas, had been looking for a race to kick off the 2011 campaign for their intrepid turf specialist.
The timing of Rail Splitter and the purse increase to $75,000 solidified the decision to ship Chamberlain Bridge to Sam Houston Race Park for the five furlong turf feature this evening.
Claimed for $35,000 on March 23, 2008, Chamberlain Bridge has become one of the top turf sprinters in North America. He won five stakes in 2010, culminating with a riveting finish in the $1 million Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint (Gr. IIT) at Churchill Downs last November. It was the first Breeders' Cup win for Moore, Calhoun and rider Jamie Theriot.
Tonight, the son of War Chant faced a field of nine, breaking from post position 5. He broke alertly and made a sweeping rally on the turn, drawing off to win by a length. His final time of :56.63, just shy of the track record of :56.61 set in 2006 by Charming Socialite.
“We were very happy with this performance,” said Calhoun. “He’s run well off a layoff before and he was ready. We were targeting this spot or the Colonel Power next week. We came over very confident, but you still need to win the race. We were hoping for a good prep for Dubai.”
The next race for Chamberlain Bridge will be the $1,000,000 Al Quoz Sprint (UAE-2) at Meydan Racecourse on March 26.
“That’s the plan; we hope he comes out of the race in good condition, but we think we got the right race in him tonight and hopefully head to Dubai to try and get that million dollars.”
“He’s a tough horse to ride,” said Theriot. “He’ll let you know if the first 3 to 4 jumps where he wants to be. He broke sharp and put me in a good position. He went a little wide into the turn, but I made an adjustment and he ran his race. Bret did a great job getting him ready; he showed up here for us.”
Chamberlain Bridge was the first Breeders’ Cup winner for Theriot and he has tremendous regard for the class and athleticism of the multiple stakes winner.
“I’ve been fortunate to ride this horse for a long time,” said Theriot. “He’s probably the best horse I’ve ridden. It’s great to be between his shoulders.”
Winning owner Carl Moore made the trip to Houston to see the winning performance. He reflected on his good fortune in winning a five-way shake for the claim back in 2008.
“We were lucky that day for sure,” said Moore. “He ran a fantastic race that day and has been awesome since then. My hat’s off to Bret and his team and Jamie. They know this horse and have done a great job with him.”
Goldzar had a ground-saving trip under Shane Sellers and rallied for second. Owned by Kenny Desormeaux and trained by Deryl Granger, the five-year-old Kentucky-bred ran fourth in the $60,000 Bonpaw Stakes on December 18 at Fair Grounds and was second in his last sprint on the main track at Delta Downs on January 14.
“He ran an unbelievable race,” said Sellers. “We expected him to run well; he was claimed to run in this race. He’s a hard-knocking, fast runner; just got outrun by a better horse.”
Future Covenant with Miguel Mena aboard was third, followed by the lone filly in the race, Truly Lucky, who was in pursuit of her second stakes win this meet under rider Quincy Hamilton. Forestry Gold, Antioch Diamond, Pacific Tsunami, Hollywood Ice and Midnight Cabinet completed the order of finish.
Chamberlain Bridge paid $2.60 to win as the 1-9 favorite and earned $45,000 for the victory. Bred in Kentucky by Eugene Melnyk, Chamberlain Bridge won his 17th race from 32 starts and increased his career bankroll to $1,630,245.
The Rail Splitter Stakes is named in honor of the 16th president of the United States, Abraham Lincoln; who worked as a rail splitter before pursuing a career in politics. Total handle for the ten-race card was $1,272,221.