Valhol Brilliant in Capturing the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at SHRP

(January 18, 2003)- Tonight’s running of the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup boasted one of the most impressive fields in the history of the race. Three of the runners, Valhol, Arctic Boy and Fifty Stars) have competed in the Kentucky Derby and total earnings of the competitors were in excess of $1.8 million. On a cold, but clear evening, with temperatures dipping into the 30’s, Valhol emerged as the winner, confidently ridden by Robby Albarado, covering the mile and one-eighth distance in a time of 1:49.18.

Valhol, is a 7-year-old son of Diazo, trained by Dallas Keen for owner James D. Jackson of Rockdale, Texas. Although the controversy of the 1999 Arkansas Derby overshadows his career accomplishments, Valhol has now won 6 of his 20 starts. With tonight’s score, he added $60,000 to his earnings, and has increased his bankroll to $444,850. He won the $125,000 Whirlaway Handicap last February at the Fair Grounds and was diagnosed with an ankle chip following his eighth place finish in the New Orleans Handicap last March. His surgery was successful and he ran a respectable fourth in the $75,000 Tenacious Handicap on December 8. Keen shipped him into Houston on Thursday with two bullet works at the Fair Grounds preparing him for tonight’s effort.

Albarado settled Valhol off the early leaders, as the first quarter was completed in 23.44 and the half-mile in 48.03. He took the lead at the top of the stretch and held off a bid from Seainsky, crossing the wire 1 ½ lengths in front of his nine rivals.

"He is a pleasure to ride," stated Albarado, who had ridden Valhol to victory in the 2001 Whirlaway Handicap at the Fair Grounds. "Dallas had him right and when I called on him at the top of the lane, he was full of run."

"Whew," said Keen following the race. "I’m proud of this horse and the race he ran tonight. We knew that he could get the mile and an eighth; he’s run that distance several times, in the Kentucky Derby and the New Orleans Handicap. We’re pleased that he can still compete at this level; very few horses from the 1999 Derby are still racing this year."

Keen and Jackson have a legacy in the MAXXAM Gold Cup as they are the trainer and owner of Allen’s Oop, winner of the 2000 edition of the race. Jackson, who had announced last year that he was leaving racing due to Valhol’s disqualification from the 1999 Arkansas Derby, was very emotional following the race.

"We’ve been through a lot together," said Jackson in the winner’s circle. "This victory means a great deal to me and my family. Much of the credit goes to Dallas, who is so connected to this horse and has brought him back so well this past year."

Rider Shane Sellers flew into Houston this evening to pilot Seainsky for owner Jack Gullett and trainer Wes Hawley. The 4-year-old Sea Hero gelding ran the majority of his 2002 races on the turf, but was stakes-placed last spring at the Fair Grounds on the main track.

"I think he handled the turf-to-dirt switch really well," said Sellers. "He did better than I expected. His last six races were on the turf and he is a horse that came from out of it. This is pretty much a speed-biased racetrack, so he had everything going against him. He ran a powerful race. We were turning for home and I thought I had it, but the other horse just out lasted him. It was a big effort on his part."

Ask The Lord ran third under rider Curt Bourque. Owned by Peter Gaffney and Stewart Madison, Ask The Lord ran a lifetime high 102 Beyer Speed Figure in his January 3 victory at the Fair Grounds for trainer Al Stall, Jr.

"I had a lot of horse," said Bourque. "That 8 (early pacesetter Tee Cat) was drifting out a little so I stayed on the rail. I was going to get through coming into stretch and Robby did what he was supposed to do and stayed alongside the 8 keeping him in. He then scooted away from me and I could get going enough to give him a run for the money. My horse has really come around lately and Al thought it was time to give him a chance against this kind. He proved he belonged."

Valhol, sent off as the favorite, returned $5.80 to win, $3.80 to place and $3.20 to show. The 9-1 exacta paid $45.40 and the 9-1-5 trifecta returned $143.40. Completing the order of finish were Tee Cat, Doc D, High Commissioner, Crook, Fifty Stars, Arctic Boy and Rare Cure.

back to TTHBPA Infomation