$125,000 Two Altazano and $125,000 Jimís Orbit Stakes Set for Saturday, February 17 at Sam Houston Race Park

(February 13, 2007) - The Saturday, February 17 card will be highlighted by the running of the $125,000 Jim’s Orbit and the $125,000 Two Altazano, two divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes. The Texas Stallion Stakes is a series of eight races that are run at each of the three Class 1 racetracks in Texas: Sam Houston Race Park, Retama Park and Lone Star Park. The purse for each division is $125,000 for a total of $1 million, making it one of the richest stallion stakes series in the country.

In 2005, the Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) renamed each of the Texas Stallion Stakes races to honor a famous Texas Thoroughbred. The colts and gelding division at Sam Houston Race Park has been named for Jim’s Orbit, who won the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and started in the 1988 Kentucky Derby. The fillies division is a tribute to Two Altazano, winner of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks in 1994. The accomplished mare, owned by the late Harold V. Goodman, was inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.

Last year’s Two Altazano champion was Chit Chat Pam ($4.20), a Valid Expectations filly, trained by Bob Young for owner Ken Murphy of Dallas, Chit Chat Pam defeated her six rivals crossing the wire of the one -mile contest in 1:41.42.

In last year’s Jim’s Orbit Stakes, a field of 12 went to the gate and trainer Danny Pish saddled the longshot winner, Brick Fight ($85.40). The colt, who was making his stakes debut for owner/breeder John Silverthorne Ranch, pulled away in the stretch and won by 3 ½ lengths under rider Quincy Hamilton.

The draw for the 2006 Two Altazano and Jim’s Orbit will take place on Wednesday, February 14.

Trainer Danny Pish Hopes to Win His Second Jim’s Orbit Stakes

While last year Danny Pish saddled a longshot winner in the $125,000 Jim’s Orbit, his horse, Daddy Warbucks, will not go unnoticed in the 2007 edition of the Texas Stallion Stakes. The son of leading Texas sire, Valid Expections, has exceeded his expectations with a career record of four wins from six starts for owner William H. Bright. Daddy Warbucks won the $50,000 Groovy Stakes on Texas Champions Day and followed that up with a victory in the $50,000 Triple Sec Stakes at Delta Downs on January 26. Pish reported that the chestnut colt came out of the Delta race in good shape and has been training well at Sam Houston Race Park for this Saturday’s effort.

“He galloped on Sunday morning and that will be the equivalent of his set up for the race,” said Pish. “He’ll havc some leisurely gallops this week. He’s just a natural runner; not tricky or quirky; just a racehorse. He acts up more at the barn than on the racetrack. In the mornings, he doesn’t care to work very fast; he understands what he needs to do on raceday.”

Wrenice Set for Saturday’s $125,000 Two Altazano Stakes

Wrenice will be the filly to beat in the $125,000 Two Altazano Stakes this weekend at Sam Houston Race Park. The 3-year-old rising star is owned and bred in Texas by Stewart Hamblen of Canyon, Texas and trained by Randy Mayfield. She made her debut last summer at Lone Star Park, running second in the $111,330 TTA Sales Futurity and winning the $125,000 Pan Zareta division of the Texas Stallion Stakes on July 8 and the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park on October 14. She added two stakes at Sam Houston Race Park to her resume’ last year: the $45,000 Houston Chronicle Stakes on November 18 and the seven-furlong $50,000 Bara Lass on December 2 Based on her solid performance in 2006, she was honored as the Texas Thoroughbred Association 2-Year-Old Filly of the Year.

Regular rider, Bobby Walker, Jr. has ridden the daughter of Uncle Abbie in each of her eight career starts. She finished second in the $50,000 Genesis Stakes at Delta Downs on January 26, which was her first attempt at one mile.

“She got off a little slow,” said Walker of her runner-up finish in the Genesis Stakes at Delta. “They have a short distance to the first turn and I didn’t want to send her. She got hit with a little dirt and got to shying, jumping and ducking and ran on her left lead all the way around there. It’s (a mile) really too far to not switch leads. She may not want to go a mile, but I sure would like to see her switch to her right lead on the backside. She was a little tired after that race, but she’s fine now.”

Trick Bag Wins Another Race on Sunday, February 11 at Sam Houston Race Park

Trick Bag, the 10-year-old veteran, returned to the winner’s circle on Sunday, February 11 at Sam Houston Race Park in the third race. The son of Personal Flag was making his 102nd career start for owner Al Grice and trainer Jim Bausch. Ridden by Eguard Tejera, the bay gelding drew off to a 9 ¾ length victory, crossing the wire of the mile and 70-yard main track event in 1:44.15. Scoring the 22nd win of his career, Trick Bag was sent off as the second betting choice in the $6,000 claiming race and paid $7.20 for the win.

February Racing at Sam Houston Race Park

Live racing continues each Friday through Sunday evening this month. Post time is 7:00 p.m. Friday and Saturday and 5:00 p.m. on Sunday.

Sam Houston Race Park will offer its patrons $1 Pony beers every Saturday night, beginning at 5:30 p.m. For more information, visit www.shrp.com or call 281-807-8760.

Nice Saturday at Fair Grounds for Heiligbrodt Racing Stable

Bill and Corinne Heiligbrodt had reason to celebrate last Saturday at Fair Grounds as their horses won two stakes on the afternoon card. Gaff captured the $98,000 Taylor's Special Handicap, setting a new stakes record under rider Donnie Meche. The 5-year-old Gaff covered the distance of 5 1/2-furlongs in 1:03 for trainer Steve Asmussen.

In the $200,000 Silverbulletday Stakes, it was a an impressive front-running performance by Appealing Zophie for Asmussen and Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. Rider John Velazquez had the call in the Grade 3 stakes.

The Heiligbrodts reside in Houston and continue to be one of the leading owners at Sam Houston Race Park. Another Heiligbrodt Racing Stable filly, Buddha Lady won the opening race of the Saturday, February 10 card, a maiden special weight, at Sam Houston Race Park.

Jockey, Trainer and Owner Standings

Larry Taylor continues to lead in the jockey standings at Sam Houston Race Park with 43 victories. He remains in a competitive battle with Roimes Chirinos, who has made 40 trips to the winner’s circle, including his stakes win aboard Wild Encounter in Saturday’s $45,000 Jersey Village Stakes. Paul Nolan is third in the standings with 29 wins and Filemon Rodriguez is fourth with 28 victories. Don Simington picked up three wins for the week to move into fifth place in the jockey standings with 25 wins and Bobby Walker, Jr. just behind Simington with 24 to date.

Bret Calhoun did not win a race last weekend, but continues to maintain the lead in the trainer standings at Sam Houston Race Park with a total of 27 wins. John Locke added two wins last week and remains in second place with 23 victories. Danny Pish saddled four winners over the past three racing days to remain in third place in the standings with 21. Jim Bausch and Michelle Lovell are tied with 15 victories each. Lovell scored the stakes win on Saturday with her turf filly, Wild Encounter in $45,000 Jersey Village Stakes. Scott Blasi follows with 14 wins and Jernesto Torrez is next with 12 victories.

Bruno Schickedanz regained the lead in the owner standings with nine wins. Colt Racing, Inc. follows closely with eight wins. Heiligbrodt Racing Stable moved into third place in the owner standings with seven wins and Stephen R. Baker, Nelco Farms, Tbd Owners LLC and Shrum Racing, Inc are tied with six victories. Horsevestors is next with five wins and Israel Flores, Maggi Moss and the Dallas-based partnership of Larry Hirsch and Wayne Sanders have four wins 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

This weekend’s simulcasting includes stakes action from Gulfstream Park, Santa Anita, Tampa Bay Downs, Fair Grounds and Oaklawn Park. On Saturday at Fair Grounds, there will be two stakes, the $50,000 Chou Croute Breeders’ Cup Handicap and the $75,000 Sarah Lane’s Oates Stakes. At Santa Anita, the marquee races include the $150,000 San Carlos Handicap and the $125,000 Sensational Star Handicap. Gulfstream Park presents the $150,000 Hurricane Bertie Handicap and the $150,000 Sabin Handicap on the Saturday, February 17 program.

On Sunday at Oaklawn Park, 3-year-old fillies will compete in the $50,000 Martha Washington Stakes and Santa Anita’s feature is the $75,000 Daytona Handicap. Several racetracks across the country will present special live racecards on Monday, February 19 in honor of President’s Day. For a complete list of simulcast tracks and post times, visit shrp.com 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 www.cirquedusoleil.com.

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