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The Ladies Take Center Stage Friday at Texas Champions Weekend

 

Live Thoroughbred racing returns to Sam Houston Race Park on Friday, January 20. Opening weekend is highlighted by Texas Champions Weekend, which is making its debut as a two-day event on Friday, January 20 and Saturday, January 21. The annual event, saluting Texas-bred Thoroughbreds, features seven stakes and promises to offer exciting racing action both evenings.

With the announcement at last night's Eclipse Awards of Havre de Grace as Horse of the Year, it is more than fitting that Sam Houston Race Park kicks off its 2012 Thoroughbred meeting with a salute to the ladies. Friday's opening ten-race card will be highlighted by three stakes: the $50,000 Bara Lass for 3-year-old fillies; the $50,000 Yellow Rose and the 50,000 San Jacinto Stakes with fillies and mares competing on the Connally Turf Course.

$50,000 Bara Lass Stakes
The first stakes of the evening is the $50,000 Bara Lass for 3-year-old fillies at a distance of seven furlongs.  The field includes the entry of Nothinbettertodo and Miss Lorena, owned by Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. Both fillies are trained by Bret Calhoun.

"Miss Lorena missed most of her 2-year-old campaign and will just be making
her second start," said Calhoun. "We ran her at Fair Grounds as a prep for this; she didn't run that well, but we are convinced she has ability.
Nothingbettertodo is more accomplished; she has run second in two
stakes. Lost a heartbreaker, but should do well on Friday."

Although Mr. Scharbauer will not travel to Houston for the stakes, Calhoun acknowledges the importance of owners and breeders to the success of Texas Champions Day.

"It's nice to run horses for Clarence," said Calhoun. "He's been a big contributor to Texas racing for a long time, and founded Valor Farm, which is one of the most respected farms in the country."

Nothinbettertodo drew the rail and will be ridden by Cliff Berry. Color Code, Roman Chapa; Lotta Zalotta, David Bourque; Lazy Boot Lady, Glen Murphy; Miss Lorena, Chris Landeros; Navasota Rose, Yruing Lores; Wild Sailor Girl, Junior Chacalatana; Cowgirl N Up, Larry Taylor; Coushata Lady, Dusty Shepherd and Miss Lederhosen, Rohan Singh, complete the field.

$50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes
The six-furlong $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes drew a field of ten fillies, and a former Texas Champion, Tin Top Cat, is among the contenders. The 5-year-old mare won the 2009 Bara Lass Stakes for Calhoun and owners Bill Jordan and Jerry Durant.  She won her last start, the Flashy Lady Stakes at Remington Park on October 15.

"This mare has always run well off layoffs," stated Calhoun. "It doesn't matter where she runs, what post she draws or which surface, she always does her job."

Rider Cliff Berry will pilot the multiple-stakes winner, who has won 8 of her 17 career starts.

Trainer Karl Broberg, who won the Yellow Rose last year with Truley Lucky, will saddle two fillies in this year's edition of the filly sprint feature: Joy's Paradise and Zippy Wager.

"Joy's Paradise was pointed to this stakes last year, but developed an abscess and could not run," said Broberg. "She won the Valor Farm Stakes last June at Lone Star. We are hoping for a good effort from her. Zippy Wager was claimed for $7,500 at Delta Downs. We're taking a shot that she can run in stakes company."

The field, with riders, from the rail out includes Angel at Home, Tony McNeil; Ruby's Big Band, Rohan Singh; Joy's Paradise, Glen Murphy; All Time, Erik McNeil; Millenial Storm, Ricardo Hernandez, Jr. ; Zippy Wager, David Bourque; Tin Top Cat, Cliff Berry; Princess Turnandot, Roman Chapa and Queenland, Chris Landeros.

$50,000 San Jacinto Stakes
Fillies and mares will take to the Connally Turf Course for the mile and one-sixteenth San Jacinto Stakes. Last year, it was Kite Seeker showing her experience edge for trainer Karl Broberg. The 8-year-old mare was claimed for $10,000 in 2010, and has won 10 of her 42 career starts.  She will be making her first start since last February at Sam Houston with Glen Murphy in the irons.

Playgirl Prospect, owned by Geneva Holmes of Argyle, Texas captured the seven-furlong Bara Lass last year and returns for Texas Champions Day. Now trained by Cary White, the daughter of Running Stag has wins at each of the Texas tracks, including a victory on the Retama Park turf course last November.

She is doing really well," said White. "We had our choice of the Yellow Rose, but she ran well on the Retama turf, so we wanted to give her a shot. The seven hole is perfect; she has drawn the rail and got antsy in the gates. Chris Landeros rides most of my horses and knows the Houston turf course so we are looking forward to a nice effort."

The 12-horse field, with riders, from the rail out includes Count Fleet Beat, Jeffery Burningham; Kite Seeker, Glen Murphy; Patty's Pride, Jeremy Collier; Badness, Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez; Laverne, Jose Figueroa; Sera's Tunnel, Filimon Rodriquez; Playgirl Prospect, Chris Landeros; Grand Opry, Cliff Berry; Miss Pepper, Bobby Walker, Jr.;Cowgirl Cool, Wilfredo Arroyo; Zamita, Erik McNeil and Dixieland Baby, Junior Chacalatana.
The draw for the Saturday Texas Champions Days stakes will take place on Wednesday, January 18. The card will include the $50,000 Groovy Stakes, $50,000 Richard King Stakes, $50,000 Richard King and the $100,000 Star of Texas Stakes.

The 2012 Thoroughbred meet continues through Monday, March 12, with post times set for Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.), Sunday (5 p.m.) and Monday (1:20 p.m.). The meet will feature a variety of special events including Dollar Day on February 4, Wiener Dog Races on February 11, Ladies Night on February 25 and Camel & Ostrich Races on March 10. The park will also host a 27-day Quarter Horse Meet from March 22 – May 19.

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 minutes from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 19 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Champion Energy Services Jockey Club. Sam Houston Race Park Platinum Partners include Bud Light, Verizon Wireless and Champion Energy Services. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.

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