Sound Of Gold Scores in the $35,000 Willowbrook Stakes at SHRP

(March 1, 2003)- A field of ten fillies and mares took center stage tonight at Sam Houston Race Park, competing in the $35,000 Willowbrook Stakes, a five-furlong sprint on the John B. Connally Turf Course. In front-running fashion, Sound Of Gold, under rider John Jacinto proved she was a "horse for the course" as she improved her record on the Connally Turf Course to three wins from five starts. Trained by Paul Pearson for Iowa-based owners River Ridge Ranch, the 5-year-old daughter of Mutakddim crossed the wire in a time of :58.96 and earned $21,000 for tonight’s victory.

It was an emotional victory for Jacinto, who spoke today at the memorial service for trainer Ramon Flores. Flores died in a van accident on Tuesday and was a good friend, mentor and father figure to Jacinto.

"I want to dedicate this win to my "daddy", Jacinto said. "He wanted the best for me. I know that he is watching me and I want him to know that I appreciate everything he has done for me."

"She does like this course," admitted Pearson. "We wanted to try some horses down here on the grass because there is no grass in Iowa. Mutakddim is a hot stud now so we wanted to see how his offspring did on the turf. It worked out great and I always loved this filly anyway. She goes a little unnoticed, but in a quiet way, she pays her way. I’m glad I got to pick John Jacinto’s head up a little; I know he’s had a rough week."

Trainer Chad Hassenpflug wanted to give his 5-year-old mare, Raymond’s Dream a chance on the turf and she closed nicely under Bobby Walker, Jr. for second.

"She handled it well," said Hassenpflug. "It took her a while to get used to it. She looked a little uncomfortable at first. She didn't break as sharp as she has been. When she was loading into the gate, it was probably a whole different vision for her to see all that. She obviously was closing in on them; she only got beat by a head. You never know making the change from dirt to turf, they may not fire at all. We are happy with her."

"Just a couple of more jumps and we would have had it," commented Walker. "Chad said she had a couple of quirks. She hesitated a little leaving, then she kind of ran off and doesn't like to be hit with the whip. She left half a step slow and I never hit her, then she ran as hard as she could; she just needed another jump to get up."

The morning line favorite, My Girl Lisa, ridden by Roman Chapa and trained by Hugh Robertson, did not fire and finished sixth.

"After the Leggio (at the Fair Grounds) there was not another race for her on the grass," said Robertson. "She likes a firm course and this one was giving some. She usually pulls the rider to the lead and I knew when I saw Roman having to ask her early that we were in trouble. There is a grass sprint at Gulfstream near the end of the meeting there and I think that is where we'll go next if she comes out of this okay."

Sound Of Gold was sent off at odds of 5-1 and returned $12.00, $6.60 and $4.00. The 2-6 exacta paid $121.80 and the 2-6-9 trifecta returned $819.00. The complete order of finish included Strawbailey, Open Minded, My Girl Lisa, Hadenough, Lady Lyra Lee, Frilly Fun and Annie’s Honor.

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