Sir Cherokee
-photo by Henna Haroon/Coady Photography

Sir Cherokee
-photo by Coady Photography

Zee Oh Six
-photo by Henna Haroon/Coady Photography

Spectacular Lisa
-photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography

Sir Cherokee Captures $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup

Houston, Texas (January 17, 2004) - The $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup, run at 1 1/8 miles on the main track, attracted a talented field of eight runners. The winner was Sir Cherokee, owned by Ken Jones of Domino Stud of Lexington, Kentucky. The 4-year-old son of Cherokee Run was the winner of the 2003 Arkansas Derby (Gr. II).

Sir Cherokee suffered an ankle injury preparing for the Kentucky Derby (Gr. I). However, he has returned brilliantly. He won his first race off a layoff on November 27, and Sir Cherokee surged past Freefourinternet for a three-quarters of a length victory in tonight’s MAXXAM Gold Cup. Dusty Spike held on to finish third, 2 ½ lengths behind Freefourinternet. It was 4 ½ lengths further back to Private Emblem, who was followed under the line by Maysville Slew, Parrott Bay, and Leo’s Last Hurrahy and Most Feared, who dead-heated for last place.

Rider Terry Thompson had the mount for trainer Mike Tomlinson. Thompson said, "He ran a great race. I kept him a little closer to the pace feeling that the fractions would be pretty slow. That is not usually his style but it worked tonight. He was fresh and broke out of the gate running. Hopefully in 2004 he will be our sleeper horse and he will turn some heads."

Trainer Tomlinson went on to say, “We are tickled to death. We were concerned about the pace, but knew that he could lay a little closer after studying this race. Sometimes the horse is smarter than the trainer. Scratching him out of the Kentucky Derby was heartbreaking, but he has recovered and our next stop will be the New Orleans Handicap."

Sir Cherokee returned $4.80 for the win. He completed the 1 1/8 mile stakes over a track upgraded from muddy to good in a time of 1:51.76.

Favored Zee Oh Smith Posts Convincing Victory in Sam Houston Sprint Handicap

The $40,000 Sam Houston Sprint Handicap, a seven-furlong contest on the main track, attracted a field of six four-year-olds and up. Barbara and John Smicklas’ Zee Oh Smith was sent postward as a strong favorite, and the 5-year-old gelded son of Alphabet Soup came through for his backers with a 1 ¾-length victory over Term Sheet in 1:23.96 over a muddy track.

According to winning jockey Cliff Berry, "He broke good. I was a little concerned when a couple of the riders rode away from there but he does not want to be rated much. He hung tough and nobody really pressed him at all. On the backside I was trying to keep him from being too excited too quick."

Term Sheet rallied from last place to diminish Zee Oh Smith’s four length margin in the early stretch to less than two lengths at the wire. It was a distant eight lengths back to Won C C in third place, who was another 1 ½ lengths ahead of pacesetter Record Assembly at the wire. Ill Buy Dinner and Amazon River trailed past the line.

Winning trainer Joe Lucas was not surprised by his charge’s strong performance despite the muddy track. He commented, "The (off) track did not concern me. He seems to be able to carry his track wherever he goes. He has been down here a couple of weeks and has been training well. He seems to get over the track in the morning so we thought we would give this stakes a try and it worked out. Oaklawn is probably our next venture but I really have not thought that far ahead."

Spectacular Lisa Triumphs in Sam Houston Distaff

The $40,000 Sam Houston Distaff, a 1 1/16 mile contest, attracted a field of 10 fillies and mares, 4-year-olds and up. Green River Farm’s four-year-old Spectacular Lisa pressed the early place and took control by the end of six furlongs, continuing on strongly to cross the wire 2 ¾ lengths clear of a rallying Cherylville Slew in a time of 1:45.88 on a wet track labeled good.

Winning trainer Michael Stidham was pleased by the effort from Spectacular Lisa despite less than ideal conditions. He said, "We were stuck on the outside but Robby did a great job getting her over and not losing to much ground. This is obviously a pretty good filly. She had a good record before she got to me and she just seems to continue to improve. It is a plus when they can run on any surface so we will look at all of our options."

Triumphant rider Robby Albarado was also pleased with the effort and excited about Spectacular Lisa’s future. According to Albarado, "She showed a lot of versatility by running on well on dirt as well as the grass course last time. I congratulate the connections; they have done a wonderful job. I was able to work her last week; she was training forwardly. I expect big things of her."

Cherylville Slew’s rally fell well short of Spectacular Lisa, but it did carry her 1 ¼ lengths clear of similarly rallying Reason to Talk for second place. Tamarack Bay crossed the line one length behind Reason to Talk in fourth place, followed under the wire by Sweet Baby Jane, Cielo Girl, Blue Guru, Coastalota, Devout Sinner and Sultry Fluff.

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