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Weighing In with Martha Claussen
November 30, 2012 – Texas Tidings

Summer Applause -
Photo credit: Hodges Photography

Chamberlain Bridge -
Photo credit: Coady Photography

Glen Murphy -
Photo credit: Coady Photography

Open Me a Corona -
Photo credit: Evangeline Downs

Homeboykris -
Photo credit: Harold Roth/

Live racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park on January 18, 2013, but stay in touch with timely industry news and updates on the top Texas horses, trainers, jockeys and breeders in this bi-monthly posting by Martha Claussen.

Summer Applause Pointed to the $400,000 Houston Ladies Stakes

Horsemen across the country have taken notice of the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the new stakes at Sam Houston Race Park which will take place on Saturday, January 26, 2013. Written for fillies and mares, 4-years-old and up, the Houston Ladies Stakes is part of a prestigious evening which will include the Grade III, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup.

Trainer Bret Calhoun told Marcus Hersh of the Daily Racing Form, that the Houston Ladies Stakes is a target for his talented filly, Summer Applause. The Kentucky-bred daughter of Harlan's Holiday is owned by the partnership of Gillian R. Campbell Group Management Ltd. and Greenwood Lodge Farm.

Summer Applause1

Summer Applause began her 3-year-old season at Fair Grounds, winning the Grade 3, Rachel Alexandra Stakes and running second in the Silverbullet Day and Fair Grounds Oaks. Calhoun shipped her to Churchill Downs last May for the Grade 1, $1,000,000 Kentucky Oaks, where she finished fourth to Believe You Can. Although the track was listed as fast, Calhoun acknowledged that the conditions that day were difficult for Summer Applause.

"She ran well in the Oaks, but the souped up track hurt us," said Calhoun. "The top three fillies got out to the lead and it was hard to make up ground."

Following the Oaks, Summer Applause had surgery for a chip in her knee and is working well for her return to the racetrack. Calhoun stated that the Houston Ladies Stakes was his target race, with a possibility of making a start at Fair Grounds if the right race was available.

"Most importantly, I want to have all the screws tightened for her 4-year-old season," said Calhoun from his Fair Grounds barn on Wednesday. "If we can
get a race for her before the Ladies Classic, that would be fine, but otherwise,
she will be ready to run fresh off the layoff."Chamberlain Bridge

One other interesting note from Calhoun is that Chamberlain Bridge, 2010 Breeders' Cup Turf Sprint champion, is under strong consideration for the $75,000 Champion Energy Services Stakes at Sam Houston on January 26. The race is five furlongs on the Connally Turf course; Chamberlain Bridge won the 2011 Railsplitter Stakes, a five-furlong turf sprint, at Sam Houston Race Park on February 12, 2011.
The 8-year-old son of War Chant, owned by Texan Carl Moore, has had an exceptional career, winning 19 races and amassing earnings of $1.8 million. Calhoun feels his veteran turf sprinter is doing well at Fair Grounds, and said that he will defend his title in the $75,000 Bonapaw Stakes on December 22.

"The timing works well for us," said Calhoun. "I've been pleased with the way he has been training. He faced some of the top turf sprinters in the country last year, and ran well at Keeneland. I am pretty sure we will send him to Sam Houston on January 26."

Much more to come on the 20th Annual Live Racing Season at Sam Houston Race Park. Live racing will return to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, January 18 with Texas Champions Weekend.

Remington Park Meet Concludes on Sunday, December 9

The 2012 Remington Park Thoroughbred meet will wrap up on Sunday, December 9 and Sam Houston Race Park racing fans will likely see some of the top horses, trainers and jockeys make their way to Texas.

Steve Asmussen, who has been the leading trainer at Sam Houston five times, tops the Remington Park standings with two weeks to go. Asmussen runners have made 145 starts, winning 37 races. Chris Hartman follows in second place with 24 victories and Donnie Von Hemel is third with 23 wins. Karl Broberg and Kari Craddock, who will both run horses in Houston, are tied for fifth in the standings with 16 wins each.

Glen Murphy

Jockey Cliff Berry, who recently notched his 4,000th career win, looks likely to capture the leading riding title in Oklahoma City.  Berry has won 62 races; Luis Quinonez has 55 wins and former Sam Houston leading riders Lindey Wade and Glen Murphy have 38 and 35 victories, respectively. Wade will return to Oaklawn Park in Hot Springs, Arkansas, but Murphy will ride at Sam Houston Race Park in pursuit of his third riding title here.

Pledge Your Support for Let Texans Decide

Horsemen and racing fans can show their support for Texas racing by supporting Let Texans Decide! The campaign is a coalition of state business leaders, horsemen, community organizations, and Texas citizens committed to passing legislation at the Texas Capitol that will put expanded gaming on the ballot for the voters of Texas to decide. The mission is to press state leaders to pass legislation outlining a responsible, conservative plan for gaming and provide citizens the opportunity to vote on where Texas dollars get spent. 

Racing fans can get involved by writing letters to their legislators or simply signing an online petition. Over 4,300 Texans have signed it already; it is as simple as clicking on this link. Let your voice be heard so that tax dollars can remain in Texas for jobs, healthcare and education. Texas racing and breeding needs your support!

Fair Grounds to Host a NHC Qualifier on December 15

Fair Grounds Race Course & Slots kicked off its 141st Thoroughbred Racing Season on Thanksgiving Day, November 22.  The 84-day season will continue through March 31. The meet is highlighted by the milestone 100th running of Fair Grounds’ signature race, the $1 million Louisiana Derby, on March 30.

The venerable New Orleans racetrack will host a National Handicapping Championship qualifier on Saturday, December, 15. The “Beat the Champs” NHC Qualifier is a “real money” handicapping contest. Players put up a $300 entry fee plus a $150 live money bankroll. Contestants must wager exactly $5 Win/$5 Place/$5 Show ($15 total) on one horse in each of 10 consecutive races at Fair Grounds. The player with the largest bankroll after the final Contest race is the winner. The top three finishers receive automatic berths to the $1.5 million DRF/NTRA National Handicapping Championship, Jan. 25-26, at Treasure Island Las Vegas. Entry form and complete rules for the “Beat the Champs” NHC Qualifier can be accessed at

Gulfstream Park Opens Saturday with the Claiming Crown

The nation's top “blue-collar” Thoroughbred warriors will share the spotlight on Saturday afternoon when Gulfstream Park hosts the 2012 Claiming Crown. It will be opening day for the Southern Florida racetrack, and the first time they have hosted the event with seven stakes with $850,000 in purses. The marquee event is the $200,000 Claiming Crown Jewel a field of 12 assembled for the nine furlong main track feature. Top money-earner in the field is Homeboykris, homeboykriswho won the 2009 Champagne Stakes at Belmont Park, and prepped for this stakes with an allowance win at Churchill Downs last month. John Velazquez will ride the 5-year-old for trainer Ron Moquett.

The Claiming Crown is a partnership between the National Horsemen's Benevolent and Protective Association and the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association. Patterned after the Breeders’ Cup, the Claiming Crown was designed to reward Thoroughbred racing’s claiming horses and offer races at varying distances on both dirt and turf. This event made its debut at Canterbury Park in Shakopee, Minnesota in 1999. Canterbury has hosted 10 of the first 12 renewals of the event. The Claiming Crown was held at Philadelphia Park (now Parx Racing) in Bensalem, Pennsylvania in 2002, Ellis Park in Henderson, Kentucky in 2007 and Fair Grounds in 2011.

Post time for Saturday's Gulfstream Park card is 11:45 a.m. (CT) The first Claiming Crown stakes, the $100,000 Claiming Crown Express is slated as the fourth race of the afternoon, with a 1:00 p.m. post.

Racing fans can watch and wager on the action from Gulfstream Park at Sam Houston Race Park. For a complete list of post times as well as stakes races at tracks across the country, visit

Texas Connections Win $1 Million LQHBA Futurity at Evangeline Downs

Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, Louisiana hosted the first seven-figure Open Me a CoronaQuarter Horse stakes on Saturday, November 17, and the winning connections have each been prominent at Sam Houston Race Park.

Open Me a Corona, owned by Texans Dr. Tommy Hays and Charles Forbes Jr., kept his undefeated streak alive as he won the $1 million LQHBA Futurity. He is trained by Bobby Martinez and was ridden to victory by former Sam Houston leading rider, David Alvarez.
It was the first million-dollar win for both Martinez and Alvarez. Hays, a highly-respected equine surgeon, won the $1 million Texas Classic in 2011 with Sure Shot B.

Open Me a Corona earned $445,000 from the record purse and will return to Martinez's farm near Elgin, Texas for the winter before preparing for his 3-year-old campaign.

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