-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
"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.