Mending Fences
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

Fairwell Madrid
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

Cat Genius
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

Mending Fences Invades from Florida to Win the $200,000 Connally Breeders' Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park

(April 7, 2007) - Mending Fences required little cooperation from Mother Nature as he led from gate to wire and won the Grade III $200,000 Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf at Sam Houston Race Park With rain falling in Houston all afternoon and evening and temperatures dipping into the lower 40’s, the Kentucky-bred son of Forestry dismissed the less than ideal conditions and captured the first graded stakes of his career and the richest race of the Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting.

Mending Fences is trained by Martin Wolfson and owned by Farnsworth Stables LLC of Palm Beach, Florida. He was making the 26th start of his career with the majority of those races at Calder Race Course and Gulfstream Park. He ran second to running second to Grade 1 champion, English Channel in a $50,000 allowance at Gulfstream on February 22 and earned a career high Beyer Speed Figure of 103. Based on that performance, Wolfson thought the Connally Breeders’ Cup Turf might be a good step for the dark bay. Quincy Hamilton, who won the riding title in 2005 and 2006 at Sam Houston Race Park, was given the mount and sent his charge to the lead. He covered the first quarter in :24.42 and the half-mile in :48.52, with his closest pursuer, a game General Charley. Hamilton never relinquished the lead and held off a fast-closing effort of Embossed (IRE) at the wire. The final time of the mile and one-eighth contest was 1:52.34 over a yielding turf course.

“He's a great horse to ride; I can't find many of those,” commented Hamilton. “He broke great and settled in perfectly and whenever I called on him, he was all there. I saw the horse (Embossed) coming at the end, but my horse was very game and just a pleasure to ride.”

Wolfson did not make the trip to Houston, but his wife, Carla, accompanied Mending Fences on a flight from South Florida to Oaklawn Park and a seven-hour van to Houston last Wednesday. Wolfson is the trainer of Miesque’s Approval, the amazing 7-year-old who was the upset winner in the 2006 Grade 1 Breeders’ Cup Mile.

“We're very grateful for owners like Farnsworth Stables who spend the money and bring us to new heights,” commented Carla Wolfson. “It's all about the owners and the horse and we appreciate them so much. This horse is very special and we think the best is yet to come. We hope he will follow in Miesque Approval's shoes; he's that good.”

“My horse was coming on at the end, but (Mending Fences) just had too much left,” said rider Bobby Walker, Jr., who piloted Embossed for trainer Niall O’Callaghan. “There just wasn't anyone in the race to soften him up on the lead. We thought maybe General Charley would, but he never really pressed him. But I'm pleased with the way my horse ran. This was a really nice field.”

Silver Tree, who had bankrolled $1.2 million for Vegso Racing Stable and Hall of Fame trainer, Bill Mott, ran fifth.

The yielding course was very much a factor in tonight’s race,” said John Gaver, assistant to Mott. “The last 12 starts have been on a firm ground, so as soon as it started raining this morning, I was getting worried. (Roimes Chirinos) said he was just kind of spinning his wheels out there and never really got a hold of it. That’s not to take away from the winner though, he ran a great race; it just didn’t go our way tonight. At least we got the horse back and he’ll live to run another race. I’ll talk with Bill Mott to regroup and see where we go from here. This is a real nice horse and he’s won over a million dollars. We’ll get him back on a good foot and the right track.”

Mending Fences, at 3-1, was the second choice and paid $8.20 for the win. The 1-2 exacta returned $67.40 and the trifecta with the Stonerside Stable homebred General Charley, paid $377.80. Defending champion, Fort Prado, Silver Tree, Storm Treasure and Doctor Mrmd completed the order of finish.

Other Stakes Winners

Jersey Lilly Stakes

The $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes for fillies and mares going one mile-and-a-sixteenth drew a field of twelve runners. The winner was Fairwell Madrid, owned and trained by Donna McCullough. This was the second turf stakes victory of the meeting for the 5-year-old mare and the second on a yielding course. She captured the $25,000 Allen’s Landing Stakes on January 6 and returned to the winner’s circle this evening under rider Paul Nolan.

“She's shown herself to like yielding turf before, and I expected it would be yielding tonight. But boy, oh boy, that was a full field to have to navigate through, and I have to give the credit to (jockey) Paul (Nolan) for doing a great job with her. But she's a hard worker and a racing son-of-a-gun, pardon my French. I think we'll go to Lone Star now and tackle some other Texas horses.”

“I love this horse,” added Nolan. “I saw there was a lot of speed in the race, so I just sat behind the speed. Coming down the backstretch, she took a hold of me, and I thought she's was going to run off on me. But I steadied her and she came back to me real nice. They piled up real good on the turn, and I was on Larry (Taylor's) heels and Jeremy (Collier's) heels at the same time. So I back her off, and a hole opened up behind Sweet Appeal. When I asked her to go, she took hold and did what she was supposed to do.”

Fairwell Madrid was sent off at 9-1 odds and returned $20.60 for her first black-type stakes. La Raine of Terror with Bobby Walker, Jr, aboard, closed for second and two-time Sam Houston Race Park stakes winner, Wild Encounter was third. Cheyenne Spirit was next, followed by Sweet Appeal, Spring Jabar, High Pioneer, Tunnel Time, Anita Xanax, Night Speeker, Due to Win Again and Margy’s Forest.

Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup

The final stakes of the evening was the running of the $50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint Cup. The five furlong sprint, attracted a field of twelve, but Dwight Polite, Proven Cure, Jaramillo and K D King, were scratched prior to the race. The favorite, Cat Genius ($4.20) under a confident ride by Corey Lanerie, scored the stakes win for owner John Parker of Houston and trainer W. Bret Calhoun. The winning time was :58.17 over a yielding turf course.

“Third time was the charm (referring to his third mount of the evening),” said Lanerie. “I have to give all the credit to Mr. Parker and Bret Calhoun for bringing me here tonight. He was competitive and when they came to him, he gave it everything he had. The turf course held up well with all the rain; it was really wet, but he handled it. It's always a great turf course”

“He’s a very nice horse,” commented Jay Severs, assistant to Calhoun . “We are grateful to Mr. Parker for allowing us to train him. He's a super fast, nice horse and he showed it tonight. He'll go to Lone Star and let us know what's next”

Chief What It Is ran second under rider Roimes Chirinos.

“He's such a nice horse,” commented trainer Lori Hendrickson. “The yielding turf probably wasn't to his liking, but when I woke up this morning and saw it raining, I thought, 'Oh well, we came here to race.' But it was nice to see he had something left at the wire. Six months ago he didn't have (it), and that was a big concern. So I'm hopeful that he's on the right track now. I was thinking of taking him to Churchill (Downs), but now I'll just take a step back and reevaluate where we are.”

Orphan Brigade, also trained by Calhoun, ran third under Bobby Walker, Jr. Magic Power, Greggo, Broke Kitty, Southern Humour and Open Bank completed the field.

Tonight was the final night of the 2006/2007 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meeting. American Quarter Horses will return to the northwest Houston racetrack on Friday, June 29.

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