|Texas-Bred Scrappy Roo Makes History
in Grade III $200,000 John B. Connally Stakes Tops at Sam Houston
Houston, Texas (April 7, 2008) - Sam
Houston Race Park witnessed a historic night of Thoroughbred racing
as Scrappy Roo ($14.80), a Texas-bred gelding trained by John Locke,
edged Going Ballistic in a field that included 2007 Pacific Classic
(Gr. I) winner Student Council to emerge victorious from the mile-and-one-eighth
$200,000 John B. Connally Stakes (Gr. IIIT) on the turf course.
This event marked the first time a Texas-bred horse has won the
Grade III stakes race.
The Connally field included a total of eight horses, several of
whom were Grade I, II and III winners, competing for the $200,000
purse, SHRP’s largest purse awarded at the 2007/2008 Thoroughbred
Jockey Paul Nolan was aboard Scrappy Roo, who vied for lead from
the inside and was able to sustain his drive and momentum throughout
the stretch to cross the wire a head in front in a final time of
“The horse settled down in front with the other horses.
He was very happy, very patient, and just sat back very relaxed,”
commented Nolan. “When I asked him to move, he took off. I
would like to thank Mr. Locke for this opportunity. I always wanted
to win this race, and I am on cloud nine right now.”
Dr. David Taylor, who bred Scrappy Roo, stated, “We debated
for the last six weeks whether or not to enter this race with Scrappy
Roo. We were torn, but he really seems to like this course and has
performed well every time out here. I’d like to thank Mr.
Locke and Paul [Nolan] for giving the perfect ride. I don’t
ever think we could ride against this caliber of horses again.”
He went on to say, “This means the world to me. This is our
Scrappy Roo, who won his fifth race in a row on Connally night
at The Park, claimed his first stakes race of the meet in February
when beating out veteran racer Sandburr in the $50,000 Tomball Stakes.
Second place finisher Going Ballistic beat out third place Eighteenthofmarch
by a neck.
Barbette Surprises in $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes
The fifth race of the evening featured the night’s first
stakes race, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes race. The race, which
was open to fillies and mares ages four and up, included a strong
field of 12 horses running one-and-one-sixteenth miles over the
Connally turf course. Five-year old mare Barbette ($19.00), ridden
by jockey Quincy Hamilton and trained by Danny Pish, came out of
the gate well-placed on the inside rail and began to turn on the
heat as she entered the far turn. After the results of the photo
finish, she was pronounced the winner of the race by a neck in front
of Pleasantly Blessed in a final time of 1:45.45.
Hamilton remarked, “She made a stunning move at the end.
She was behind and had a little trouble mid-turn, but then it cleared.
I thought I had won, but I never like to say until I see the results
of the photo.”
Assistant trainer Ted Gordon, who is also best known for being
the track's all-time leading jockey, commented that he and trainer
Pish were confident about Barbette’s performance going into
the race. “She came into the race very comfortable, and we
think she did great. We are very pleased how she performed against
such a strong field.”
Pleasantly Blessed crossed the wire second,2 1/2 lengths in front
of favored New Edition in third place.
Smitty's Sunshine Captures $50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint
The ninth race of the evening featured the final stakes race of
the 2007/2008 Thoroughbred meet, the $50,000 Sam Houston Turf Sprint
Cup stakes race. The race was open to four-year old horses competing
over five furlongs on the Connally turf course.
Smitty’s Sunshine ($6.60) managed to pull off an upset by
going three wide in the upper stretch and driving hard down the
stretch to cross the wire a half-length in front of the Steve Asmussen-trained
Golden Hare in a final time of 00:58.04. Super Struggler finished
two lengths further back in third place.
“It looked like it was going to be a rough race, but she
prevailed at the end,” said jockey Eddie Martin, Jr. “She
had a perfect trip, and she rode well. I was able to tuck in it
until the end.”
Trainer Morris Nicks commented, “I knew she could step up
She is a sprinter - a strong, short sprinter.” Owner Roger
Smith added, “This has been a great opportunity for us. The
race was set up perfect, and Eddie had a very nice ride for us.”
According to Nicks, it looks like Smitty’s Sunshine will
be heading to Churchill Downs to compete later in April.
In addition to the 10-race card, the evening also featured additional
activities for racing fans, including a $500 on-track handicapping
contest and a pre-racing handicapping seminar with SHRP Announcer
Michael Chamberlain, the Houston Chronicle’s Martha
Claussen, Denis Blake of The Texas Thoroughbred magazine
and Nick Tammaro from racingdispatch.com.
The Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race will launch the 2008 concert
season featuring classic rock, country and contemporary artists
on Friday, May 2. Visit www.theshowgrounds.com
for more information.
Celebrate Kentucky Derby at SHRP with a special day of simulcast
races from Churchill Downs, a Derby Day Hat Contest, Derby Day-themed
food and beverages, and more on Saturday, May 3.
Sam Houston Race Park will open for live Quarter Horse racing on
Thursday, June 26, 2008. For more information and a complete list
of Texas Champions Day racing results, visit www.shrp.com.