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Weighing In with Martha Claussen
July 17, 2013 – Latest Racing Events & Newsmakers

Live racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park on January 17, 2014. Stay in touch with timely industry news and updates on the upcoming racing events as well as the latest on the top Texas horses, trainers, jockeys and breeders in this bi-monthly posting by Martha Claussen.

Del Mar and Saratoga Open This Week
Simulcast racing fans will have an opportunity to watch and wager on two of the most exciting live race meetings as both Del Mar and Saratoga open this week.

Photo credit - Del Mar

Del Mar, California’s premier meet will open July 17 and continue through September 4.  Post time for most days will be 4 pm (CT).  Friday post times have moved to 6 pm this year. 

The gorgeous seaside track first opened in 1937 and continues to attract the country’s top horses, jockeys and trainers as well as many of Southern California’s celebrities.  Hall of Famer Bob Baffert, John Sadler, Doug O'Neill, Peter Miller, Jeff Bonde and Mike Puype. will be prominent this season.  The jockey colony will feature a stellar cast of veteran riders including Rafael Bejarano, Mike Smith, Joel Rosario, Julien Leparoux, Joe Talamo and Corey Nakatani. Read more about rising star Edwin Maldonado in this week's blog. He began his career as an apprentice at Sam Houston Race Park ten years ago!
Del Mar’s richest and most prestigious race, the Grade I, $1 Million TVG Pacific Classic, will take place Sunday, August 25, joined by two Grade II events, the $250,000 Pat O'Brien Stakes at seven furlongs and the $200,000 Del Mar Mile on the Jimmy Durante turf course.

Saratoga Race Course will open on Friday, July 19 with the nation's top horsemen competing for a lucrative stakes schedule valued at $14.9 million. Todd Pletcher, Bill Mott, Steve Asmussen, Shug McGaughey, Chad Brown, Nick Zito, Christophe Clement and Linda Rice are among the major outfits stabled at the upstate New York racetrack.  Racing fans can look forward to the Grade 1, $1 million Travers on August 24, one of 16 Grade I stakes set for the 2013 racing season.
Past seasons have featured debut efforts from 2-year-olds, many of which became viable Triple Crown runners, including Orb, Oxbow and Palace Malice.  With many graded stakes for older horses,  top North American Thoroughbreds Wise Dan, Fort Larned and Boisterous are expected to be in action at "the Spa".

In honor of the summer racing season at Del Mar, every Friday from 5pm – 9pm,  Sam Houston Race Park will offer Dollar Draft Beer and a 'Surf n Turf' special featuring an 8 oz. ribeye steak and 6 oz. lobster tail accompanied with herb roasted potatoes for only $10.

Loyal customers enrolled in Player Rewards will also receive 500 bonus points every Friday of the Del Mar meet if they wager $50 on Saratoga and $50 on Del Mar.  For more information on post times and upcoming stakes races at Saratoga, Del Mar and other tracks across the country, visit  Admission is FREE at Sam Houston Race Park for the duration of 2013.

Del Mar Jockey Edwin Maldonado Rode as an Apprentice at Sam Houston Race Park

Photo credit - Benoit Photography

Houston racing fans might have to rewind to 2002 to recall a talented apprentice rider by the name of Edwin Maldonado Alicea. He began riding at Sam Houston Race Park as an apprentice, introduced to the sport by his uncle, veteran rider Manny Alicea.

He won 37 races in the 2002/2003 Thoroughbred racing season with an extremely memorable score on Sunday, March 2.  He set the toteboard on fire, winning the third race aboard Adjalon, a 3-year-old gelding, trained by Jernesto Torrez, who paid a whopping $125.00 to win.

Since he began riding in 2002, Maldonado, 31, has made a steady ascent up the ladder and had his most successful showing this year. He has booted home 107 winners and purses of $4.3 million. Last weekend, he tied Rafael Bejarano, one of Southern California's most gifted jockeys, for the rider title at Betfair Hollywood Park.

His success has come as no surprise to Sam Houston's clerk of scales, Walter Layland, who has seen a slew of young riders make their debut in Houston.

"He was very quiet and respectful to everyone," recalled Layland.  "I knew he had a ton of talent."

Joyful Victory Returns to Action Sunday, July 28 at Monmouth Park

Sam Houston Race Park's Horse of the Meet for the 2013 Thoroughbred meet, Joyful Victory, is expected to make her next start on Sunday, July 28 at Monmouth Park in Oceanport, NJ. The 5-year-old  daughter of Tapit is nominated for the Grade 2, $200,000 Molly Pitcher Stakes for older fillies and mares at the distance of one and one-sixteenth miles on the main track. 

Photo credit - Coady Photography

Owned by Fox Hill Farms, Inc. and trained by Larry Jones, Joyful Victory set a track record at Sam Houston Race Park on January 26 when she won the $400,000 Houston Ladies Stakes, the richest Thoroughbred stakes in Texas. Following her victory in the Houston Ladies Classic, the gray mare notched a front-running score in the Grade I, $300,000 Santa Margarita Stakes at Santa Anita on Saturday, March 16. Purchased for $60,000 in the 2009 January Sale at Keeneland, Joyful Victory has now won six of her 18 career starts bankrolling $1,102,679.

"She's doing great and has been training well (at Churchill Downs)," said Jones. "We'll ship her next week to give her an opportunity to get settled at Monmouth."

Jones had previously stated that the long term goal for Joyful Victory is the 2013 Breeders' Cup Ladies Classic in November at Santa Anita.

Especially Tres, Sam Houston Race Park's Quarter Horse of the Meet to Run Friday at Ruidoso Downs
Especially Tres, Sam Houston's 2013 Quarter Horse of the Meet, will run on Friday, July 19 in trials for the $54,720 John Deere Ruidoso Downs Juvenile Challenge. The horses with the 10-fastest times return for the John Deere Ruidoso Juvenile Challenge on August 3.

Owned by Jim Pitts and trained by Trey Wood, Especially Tres, will make her first start since winning the $452,800 Sam Houston Futurity (G2) on April 13.  The talented filly will be ridden by Ricky Ramirez in the third trial.

On Saturday, July 20, Judd Kearl, who has won five Sam Houston Quarter Horse training titles, will saddle Krash Cartel in the finals of the $1 million Rainbow Derby.

Quarter Horse Racing fans can follow results from Ruidoso Downs and tracks across the country at

TQHA Yearling Sale Set for July 26-27 in San Antonio, Texas
The 2012 TQHA Yearling Sale will take place at the Exposition Center at The Freeman in San Antonio the weekend of July 26 -27. A total of 294 yearlings will pass through the sales ring with horsemen across the country hoping to spot the next rising star of the Quarter Horse racing world. Prominent sale graduates have included 2003 World Champion, Oak Tree Special and Azoom, who won 11 races as a 2-year-old and was honored as Sam Houston Race Park Horse of the Meeting in 2004.

The sale is open to the public, so if you are in the San Antonio area, stop by the Exposition Center at The Freeman, 3201 East Houston Street on Friday or Saturday. For more information on the TQHA Yearling Sale or to download the catalog online, visit

Feel free to email any racing question to Martha at She will do her best to address any Texas or national racing topic. This week's question comes from Evan W., who asks the following:

Saratoga and Del Mar will both have great turf racing.  Who are some of the top turf sires to follow when handicapping the races?

Evan, you are right; Saratoga and Del Mar will showcase plenty of turf races and stakes this summer. Many factors must be considered when handicapping grass events including sprint, route, firm, yielding, post position and jockey prowess on the lawn.

As far as sires go, according to statistics on, the following sires top the rankings in 2013:
1.  Kitten's Joy
2.  English Channel
3.  Giant's Causeway
4.  Medaglia d 'Oro
5.  Unusual Heat

Daily Racing Form's Top Five turf sires for 2012 ranked as follows:
1.  Dynaformer
2.  Stormy Atlantic
3.  Smart Strike 
4.  Giant's Causeway
5.  Kitten's Joy

As far as turf riders go, I give high marks to Javier Castellano, Edgar Prado, Rosie Napravnik, and John Velazquez with Jose Lezcano and Cornelio Velasquez able to boot home their fair share of winners at Saratoga.

More on Del Mar turf in the next blog!

Thanks Lou for your inquiry and racing fans, please feel free to submit any questions to

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