-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

Superstar Wrenice and Longshot Banquo Capture Divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes at SHRP

(February 17, 2007) - Rich purses and full fields resulted in a pair of exciting finishes at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night as rising superstar Wrenice and big longshot Banquo each won divisions of the Texas Stallion Stakes. The races, sponsored by the Texas Thoroughbred Association, were restricted to runners sired by nominated Texas stallions.

In the $125,000 Two Altazano division for 3-year-old fillies, all eyes were on Wrenice as she tried the one-mile distance for the first time in her career after dominating Texas-breds in sprints last year. Starting from post 10 under Bobby Walker Jr., Wrenice broke sharply as she always does and sat just off the early pace set by Touchofreality. On the far turn she quickly opened up a five-length lead and looked ready to sail home to an easy victory, but the late-running Stage Stop made it interesting as she gobbled up ground in the final furlong before coming up a half-length short of Wrenice, who clocked the distance in 1:39.48.

After earning $244,346 last year, the highest total ever for a Texas-bred 2-year-old filly, Wrenice picked up $75,000 for this win to push her career bankroll to $329,346. Prior to the Two Altazano, she finished second in the Genesis Stakes at Delta Downs after winning her previous five races by a combined 40 lengths. Two of those victories came at Sam Houston Race Park in the Bara Lass Stakes on Texas Champions Day in December and the Houston Chronicle Stakes in November. Wrenice is owned by her breeder, Stewart Hamblen of Canyon, Texas, who has repeatedly turned down some lofty offers to sell the filly. She is by the young stallion Uncle Abbie, a son of Kingmambo who stands at Key Ranch near Salado, Texas.

Trainer Randy Mayfield indicated that Wrenice would be pointed toward the $125,000 Got Koko division of the Texas Stallion Stakes on May 12 at Lone Star Park. If Wrenice can stretch her speed through the 1 1/16-mile distance of that race, she'll become the first horse ever to sweep all four legs of the Texas Stallion Stakes. She won the first two legs at Lone Star and Retama Park last year en route to being named Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Filly by the Texas Thoroughbred Association.

"It's just great; she won the Triple Crown of Texas," said Hamblen after his filly won her third division of the Texas Stallion Stakes. "She proved she can run a mile, so I hope she can run a mile and a sixteenth in May."

Sent off as the favorite for the sixth consecutive race, Wrenice returned $4.60 to win. Bullard Farms and Cash Asmussen's Stage Stop, a daughter of Valid Expectations, picked up $25,000 for running second and pushed her bankroll to $200,320. Lilly Ladue, a Chief Three Sox filly running for Richey and Strode Stables LLC, finished third, followed by Light Lace, Sec Sea Legs, Touchofreality, Liberty's Child, Funny Tune, Swamp Lady, Stormin Brigade and Rare Scene.

The $125,000 Jim's Orbit division for 3-year-old colts and geldings also produced a memorable finish but a much larger price on the toteboard as Heiligbrodt Racing Stable's homebred Banquo picked an opportune time to run the race of his life. Despite only having a turf victory against maidens on his résumé, the colt defeated a talented field of runners and scored at odds of 30-1. A $2 win ticket on Banquo paid $63.20.

With Jose Figueroa riding for trainer Steve Asmussen, Banquo lingered at the back of the pack for much of the race before making a wide move on the far turn and running down stakes winners Daddy Warbucks and Power Surge in deep stretch. Banquo won by 1¼ lengths and ran one mile in 1:40.56.

"You just never know when one of these horses is going to come to the front, especially one that has good parents and a good trainer," said Houstonian Bill Heiligbrodt, who with his wife, Corinne, operates Heiligbrodt Racing Stable. "I'm sure we'll be shooting for the next Texas Stallion Stakes (in May at Lone Star Park), and maybe we can find something in between for him."

A son of Magic Cat, who stands at Valor Farm in Pilot Point, Texas, Banquo had earned $18,315 in six prior starts and picked up $75,000 for this win. He broke his maiden at Lone Star Park last July and then faced stakes and allowance company at Louisiana Downs, Remington Park and Sam Houston Race Park.

William Bright's Daddy Warbucks, a Valid Expectations colt who won the Groovy Stakes on Texas Champions Day, had to settle for second. Power Surge, a gelded son of Holzmeister running for Carl R. Moore Management LLC, crossed the wire third as the 7-5 favorite. I Spy Wolfie, Texas Praise, Magic Markey, Snifters Spirit, Beanie Duke, Uncle Rose, Axel Pegasus and Seneca Stage completed the field.

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