-photo by Jenifer Juelsgaard/Coady Photography

Stonerside Stable's General Charley Wins the $45,000 Tomball Stakes at Sam Houston Race Park

(February 24, 2007) - A field of seven took to the Connally Turf Course in tonight’s feature, the $45,000 Tomball Stakes. General Charley, bred and owned by Bob McNair’s Stonerside Stable was sent to the lead by rider Paul Nolan and captured the of the mile and one-sixteenth contest in a time of 1:43.94.

The 5-year-old Texas-bred was named after Charley Casserly, who was tapped by McNair as the first general manager of the Houston Texans. Trained by Michael Stidham, General Charley was making his 16th career start this evening. He appears to have found his calling on the turf, winning two of his last three races on the sod after running third in his turf debut at Sam Houston Race Park on December 16. Stidham shipped him to Fair Grounds where he won a $25,000 turf claimer on January 29. Nolan recognized a huge improvement in his performance this evening following the Fair Grounds victory.

“When I rode him here in December, he hit the lead and then ding-donged with another horse and sort of gave up,” recalled Nolan. “The race at Fair Grounds built his confidence and his heart. I feel like a rode a different horse tonight.”

The chestnut son of Truluck out of the Holy Bull mare, Holy Miss, appeared very comfortable tonight, covering the first quarter in :24.78 and the half-mile in 49.53. Saddled by Stidham’s Sam Houston Race Park assistant, Rigo Rosas, General Charley dueled with the top earner in the field, Goosey Moose before drawing off to a 4 ½ length win.

“We had two strategies for the race,” added Nolan. “We could sit behind the speed, but he was pretty quick leaving the gates and Mike said if we took the lead, just try to ride the race, slow the pace down and do the best I could. He broke like a quarter horse; I was out in front, went head-to-head with Donnie (Simington on Goosey Moose). He wanted to go; when we hit the quarter-pole, that was it.”

Goosey Moosey, who ran third in the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup on January 27, has done some of his best work on turf and finished second under rider Don Simington.

“It was a good race for him,” said Brandon Jenkins, assistant to Pish. “They set good fractions. We just couldn’t get it done. But overall, it was a good race. Coming off the Maxxam, that was a good race for him. Next time out, he’s a winner.”

Northern Scene, winner of the $50,000 Richard King Stakes on Texas Champions Day, was the morning-line favorite and ran third tonight. The 6-year-old gelding is owned by Don Eberts and trained by Morris Nicks and was ridden this evening by Jamie Theriot.

“When I made my commitment, I was wider than I wanted to be,” said Theriot. “There were some slow fractions and they didn’t back up. He tried.”

General Charley, sent off as the fourth betting choice, paid $14.60 to win, $7.00 to place and $3.20 to show. The 2-3 exacta returned $45.80 and the trifecta paid $105.60 Bullet Crane ran fourth followed by Favorite Jazz, Spearsville and Meet Dr Mike.

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