|Grade 3 Winner Gleam of Hope Ships in for Saturday's $150,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park
(Houston, Texas - Wednesday, February 29, 2012) - A strong field of eight has been drawn for the $150,000 Maxxam Gold Cup to be contested Saturday, March 3 at Sam Houston Race Park. The mile and one-eighth stakes has attracted some of the top older horses in the country since its first running in 1994.
Past champions include Grade 3 victor, Alumni Hall, Mr Ross, who eclipsed the million dollar earnings mark in his 2002 victory, Valhol and Student Council, who won the Maxxam in 2007 and went on to win the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Pacific Classic at Del Mar six months later.
Gleam of Hope, a Grade 3 winner from the barn of Michael Stidham, drew the rail and will be ridden by James Graham. The Kentucky-bred son of City Zip, won the Grade 3, Jefferson Cup at Churchill Downs and was third in the Grade 3, River City Handicap last November, also at Churchill. He has won 5 of his 19 career starts and bankrolled $353,029 for owners Terry Hamilton and Robert W. Morgan. He was entered in last weekend's Fair Grounds Handicap, but scratched and opted for the Maxxam.
"The turf has been soft at Fair Grounds, and we felt our better option was to run him on the main track," said Stidham. "We gelded him after his race at Arlington Park (August 28). Since then, he has become a more consistent racehorse."
Trainer Steve Asmussen won the 2011 Maxxam with Z Humor, a son of Distorted Humor, who is now standing stud at the Haras Urama in Venezuela. His entrant is this year's edition of the Maxxam is Omniscient, who he owns as well as trains. The dark bay son of Pulpit will be making his 22nd career start; he has won five races and would eclipse the $300,000 mark with a top placing on Saturday night. Roman Chapa will ride and drew post position seven.
Coyote Legend owned by Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. and trained by Bret Calhoun, has been a true "horse for the course" at Sam Houston Race Park with three wins from four starts. His latest victory took place on January 21 when he captured the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes on Texas Champions Weekend. He defeated a compact field of accredited Texas-breds, but Calhoun feels he fits against open company.
"We felt that this was a great opportunity to step up against better horses," said Calhoun. "He likes the surface and has run well under the lights. This will be a test for him, but he's at the top of his game and deserves a chance."
Calhoun has named Chris Landeros to ride the 5-year-old son of Gold Legend.
Glen Murphy, who the current leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park, with 34 victories since January 20, will pilot Cease for trainer Al Stall, Jr. Bred and owned by Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider, distance should be no issue for the son of War Chant, who competed in the 2011 Grade 2, Breeder’s Cup Marathon at Churchill Downs.
The remainder of the field includes Sam Houston allowance winner, Col. Wright; JJ's Indy, who ran second in the Oklahoma Classic Cup at Remington Park; Bayboy, who has four wins from 10 start and Anaan, who has won his last two main track starts over the Sam Houston main track.
The Maxxam Gold cup will run as the ninth race of the Saturday evening card, with an estimated post time of 10:28 p.m. (CT).
The 2012 Thoroughbred meet continues through Monday, March 12, with post times set for Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.), Sunday (5 p.m.) and Monday
(1 p.m.). The meet will feature Camel & Ostrich Races on March 10. The park will also host a 27-day Quarter Horse Meet from March 22 – May 19.
Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 minutes from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 19 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner's Circle Restaurant and the Champion Energy Services Jockey Club. Sam Houston Race Park Platinum Partners include Bud Light and Champion Energy Services. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Maxxam Gold Cup Weather
Saturday is expected to be a clear, sunny day in Houston with an afternoon high of 67 degrees and a low of 47 forecast for the evening.
Jockey Chris Landeros Florida Bound
Jockey Chris Landeros, currently the fourth-leading rider at Sam Houston Race Park, is shipping his tack to Florida at the conclusion of the current meet on March 12. The 23-year-old rider will ride the final month of the Gulfstream Park season and then set up shop at Calder Race Course.
Landeros was born in San Mateo, California, and began his riding career at Turf Paradise in 2006. After six months in Phoenix, he went on to ride at Golden Gate Fields and Bay Meadows in Northern California. In the past three years, he has had considerable success in Texas and Oklahoma, building a solid reputation. Since he turned professional, Landeros has been named on over 4,800 mounts, winning 864 races and purses close to $12 million.
Landeros admits he will miss Texas, where he earned two riding titles in three years at Lone Star Park and won the first graded stakes of his career in 2011 aboard Schramsberg in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston. He is grateful to agents Scott Hare, who brought him to Texas and Kevin Johnson, who handled his business this year. Trainers including Steve Asmussen, Jack Bruner, Danny Pish, Bernie Flint, Jory Ferrell and Kari Craddock, have been big supporters of the young rider.
"My best memory of Sam Houston will always be my Connally win," said Landeros. "I love the Houston turf course; it is one of the best in the country. There is a lot of turf racing in Florida and I know I will enjoy that."
Landeros has made many friends in Texas and jockey Erik McNeil admits he will miss his fellow jockey.
"I have known him for three years," said McNeil. "I can honestly say that he has been a role model for me and a rider I respect very much."
The circuit switch was far from an easy career move for Landeros.
"I took about three months to make this decision, but my ultimate goal is to ride in the Breeders' Cup and someday have a Derby horse,"
said Landeros. "Florida has gaming, year-round racing and a lot of Derby preps."