Three Exceptional Stakes on the MAXXAM Gold Cup Undercard at Sam Houston Race Park

Houston, Texas (Thursday, February 28, 2013) - Several nationally prominent trainers are shipping horses to Sam Houston Race Park for the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup on Saturday, March 2 and the three undercard stakes on the program. A field of eight, including Sabercat, Hurricane Ike, Twinspired and Unstoppable U will compete in the mile and one-eighth handicap for older horses.

The Maxxam is the marquee race of the Saturday card, but three additional stakes will run as part of the Maxxam Gold Cup Racing Festival. Each drew competitive fields with compelling matchups of multiple-stakes winners and quality horses on the comeback trail for their connections.

Sam Houston Race Park will offer an All Stakes Pick 4 encompassing the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes, $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup, $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes and $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup. Post time for the first of the four stakes, which will run as the sixth race, is 8:46 p.m. (CT).

Worldventurer and Departing Put Win Streaks on the Line in the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes

Worldventurer has delivered top caliber performances in two stakes this meet at Sam Houston Race Park for trainer Bret Calhoun. The son of Wimbledon won the $50,000 Groovy Stakes on opening weekend and the $75,000 Jim's Orbit on February 16 for his owner Wesley Melcher of Dallas, Texas.

He will put his win streak to the test in the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes, a one mile main track feature, against a quality field including the undefeated Departing. Trained by Al Stall, Jr. for owner Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, the War Chant colt has won both of his starts at Fair Grounds.

Rosie Napravnik will ride Worldventurer and jockey Brian Hernandez, Jr., who rose to fame last year winning the $5 million Breeders' Cup Classic on Fort Larned stays aboard Departing, who will make his stakes debut on Saturday.

"He was entered in the $400,000 Risen Star last Saturday at Fair Grounds," said Stall. "He drew the 14 post, so we scratched him and decided to run in Houston. He's definitely a two-turn horse and I like the track surfaces at Sam Houston."

The field, from the rail, with riders: Real Appeal Deal, Rohan Singh; Whiskey Bravo, Glen Murphy; Holiday Mischief, Gerardo Mora; Departing, Brian Hernandez, Jr.; Seeking Payday, Larry Taylor; Worldventurer, Rosie Napravnik; Furious Candy, Paul Nolan and Mula Run, Roman Chapa.

Artemus Kitten Returns to Sam Houston Race Park in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes

Artemus Kitten, a five-year-old daughter of Kitten's Joy, will return to Sam Houston Race Park for her owner and breeder, Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey. She ran second in the 2012 Jersey Lilly for trainer Michael Maker and will be ridden by Napravnik in the mile and one-sixteenth turf stakes.

"She didn't have the best trip last year," said Maker of the chestnut filly. "I look for a great ride from Rosie."

Stall and Hernandez will team up again with Distorted Legacy, a graded stakes-placed six-year-old mare, who has earned $378,846, but will be seeking her first turf victory.

"So many of the turf stakes have been rained out in New Orleans, we felt that this was a good spot for her," said Stall. "She is a quality mare."

Vilao ran impressively in the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes here on January 18 and was second in the $50,000 Tomball Stakes under rider Ramon Luna. The four-year-old filly will make her sixth career turf start for trainer Rebecca Baker.

The field, from the rail, with riders: Firehouse Red, Patrick Johnson; World Cup, Paul Nolan; Vilao, Ramon Luna; Artemus Kitten, Rosie Napravnik; Forgotten People, Nathan Puello; Distorted Legacy, Brian Hernandez, Jr.; Allure, Rohan Singh; Moon Struck Nemi, Chris Landeros; Guanabara Gal, Gerardo Mora and Miss Kinderhook, Glen Murphy.

Stakes Winners Square Off in $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup

Gold Element, who rallied from off the pace to win the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes here on January 19, is one of two sprinters trained by Bret Calhoun in the $50,000 Houston Sprint Cup. Napravnik will ride Gold Element for Wimp Free Racing Stable and Miguel Mena is named on Su Casa G Casa, who has won his last two stakes for owner Thomas Galvin.

Solar Charge has shown his versatility for both turf and dirt for trainer Danny Pish. He won the $50,000 Bucharest Stakes here on February 2 and will be ridden by Roman Chapa.

Trainer Larry Jones enjoyed a memorable night at Sam Houston Race Park on January 26, winning and setting two track records with Joyful Victory and Icon Ike. He looks forward to a good effort from Hamiltonian, a four-year-old son of Bellamy Road, who will break from post position seven in the six-furlong sprint.

"He's been a good performer for us," said Jones, who has given the mount to Patrick Johnson. "I see him being forwardly placed, but he doesn't need the lead to do his best running."

The field, from the rail, with riders: Gold Element, Rosie Napravnik; Solar Charge, Roman Chapa; Flat Black, Rohan Singh; Bind, Brian Hernandez, Jr.; Su Casa G Casa, Miguel Mena; Flashpoint, Glen Murphy and Hamiltonian, Patrick Johnson.

Maxxam Gold Cup Update

Trainer Michael Stidham will ship in two entrants in the Maxxam Gold Cup on Thursday morning from his base at Fair Grounds in New Orleans. Hurricane Ike has bankrolled $578,070 in his 28 career starts for his owners Ike and Dawn Thrash. Jockey James Graham will break from post position seven and Paul Nolan will ride Dreaming Blue, who comes off an allowance win at Fair Grounds for Terry Hamilton.

"Hurricane Ike has been facing solid stakes company at Fair Grounds and fires every time," said Stidham. "He'll stretch out to a mile and one-eighth. James will likely get him to the lead and carry his speed. Dreaming Blue is off to a good start this year and routed well in his last (a win at a mile and 70 yards at Fair Grounds on February 12).

Maxxam Gold Cup Weather

Saturday is expected to be a clear, sunny day in Houston with an afternoon high of 60 degrees and a low of 37 forecast for the evening. No rain is expected this week so track conditions should be fast and firm on the Connally Turf course.

Sam Houston Race Park Makes Adjustment in Race Dates for Final Two Weeks of Thoroughbred Meet

Sam Houston Race Park requested and received a change of live Thoroughbred racing dates in March. In a letter to the Texas Racing Commission (TRC), officials requested that the Sunday, March 10 and March 17 live dates be moved to Monday, March 11 and March 18. Since the beginning of the 2013 Thoroughbred racing season on January 18, Monday's handle has outperformed Sunday. The Thoroughbred meet will continue through March 18 followed by the 2013 live American Quarter Horse season, which gets underway on Thursday, March 28.

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