Always In My Heart
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Always In My Heart Returns to Glory in the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff at Sam Houston Race Park

Houston, Texas (Saturday, February 18, 2012) - Always In My Heart made the most of her second Sam Houston Race Park start with a determined effort in Saturday's feature, the $50,000 Sam Houston Distaff.

Trainer Donnie K. Von Hemel sent the 6-year-old daughter of Hennessy to Sam Houston three weeks ago for the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes. She was making first start since last August for Pin Oak Stable, and rallied well for third.

Von Hemel felt that the Jersey Lilly was a good comeback effort and decided to send her back to Houston. It proved to be a very wise decision.

Puddy Tap, a 4-year-old Tapit filly, shipped in from Fair Grounds for trainer Steve Margolis. The striking gray took the lead in the mile and one-sixteenth main track feature under rider Corey Lanerie, and ran early splits of 24.10 and 48.22. She faced some pressure on the outside from Standbyyourmangirl, under Larry Taylor. However it was the gutsy ride by Sam Houston's leading rider Glen Murphy, who found room on the rail and zipped by Puddy Tap, crossing the wire in 1:44.91.

This was the first stakes win for Always in My Heart, who was making her 18th career start, with five previous wins to her credit.

"She relaxed so well for me on the backside," said Murphy. "I knew I had room on the rail and she had plenty left. I want to thank Donnie for putting me on her."

Assistant trainer Crystal Campbell accompanied the mare from Oaklawn Park to Houston and saddled for Von Hemel.

"She came out of her turf race real well, even though she had a rough trip," said Campbell. "She likes it here and had a great inside post. I was really impressed; she’s always finished her races with a great burst of speed."

Murphy who won three races on the card, had another reason to celebrate as his wife, Joy Rose Murphy, was crowned Mrs. Oklahoma this evening.

"I'm proud of my wife," said Murphy. "I'll tell you what, I'm a lucky man."

Always in My Heart returned $6.00 as the second betting choice. Puddy Tap held on for second followed by Standbyyourmangirl, Miss Hockaday and Patty's Pride.

The $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup will be run on Saturday, March 3. The mile and one-eighth handicap for older horses has attracted some of the top distance horses in the country, with past champions including Alumni Hall, Valhol and Student Council, who went on to national prominence in the 2007 Grade 1 Pacific Classic at Del Mar.
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