Scrappy Roo
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

-photo by Sandra Beck/Coady Photography

Smitty's Sunshine
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Texas-Bred Scrappy Roo Makes History in Grade III $200,000 John B. Connally Stakes Tops at Sam Houston Race Park

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 meet.

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 1:51.65.

“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 Kentucky Derby!”

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 Cup

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 like that."

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

The Showgrounds at Sam Houston Race will launch the 2008 concert season featuring classic rock, country and contemporary artists on Friday, May 2. Visit 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

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