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April 20, 2013


Defending champion Kool Country Man was ignored by the betting public last year, paying $51.60. This year, at much shorter odds, he ran another outstanding race to capture the $101,970 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G1).

The 5-year-old son of Country Chicks Man is owned by Texans Jose Socorro Vera, Jr. and Juan Manuel G. Barbosa. He made his third start of 2013 this evening, but stamped himself as a serious contender two weeks ago when he won his trial in commanding fashion, covering 440 yards in :21.766 seconds.

Trainer Jonathan Castaneda was hoping to capture the championship two years in a row, and rider Luis Vivanco sealed the deal, guiding the sorrel gelding to victory in :21.756 seconds, earning a speed index of 101. Bred in Texas by Ramiro Lopez and Bob Gaston, Kool Country Man has improved his career record to 8 wins from 26 starts.

An overflow crowd of friends, relatives and supporters entered the winner’s circle to congratulate the winner, who returned $5.60 for the win as returning champion.

“I guess he has a lot of fans this year,” said Castaneda.

Kool Country Man has been a gift for the 24-year-old trainer, who acknowledged that his multiple-stakes winner still has room for improvement.

 “He’s had more time between races and has matured,” stated the trainer.

Last year Kool Country Man won the final and ably represented Texas with a fourth-place finish in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows last October.  This year, the team will ship to Los Alamitos in Cypress California.

“We were expecting the best from him, being that we are home,” said Vera.  “I want to thank our entire team, and especially Ramiro Lopez, who could not be here this evening.”

Really A Fantasy ran a game second under rider Manuel Guttierrez. The 4-year-old son of First Down Dash made his Houston debut in trials on April 5, and ran a professional effort this evening.

“We were happy with his performance; he closed beautifully”, said trainer Shae Cox. “He’s a stud and has studly moments. We decided to put a flipping halter on him tonight and he did great. Everyone had a safe race and that’s what counts.”

Runaway Wagon posted the second-fastest qualifying time of :21.803 under rider David Alvarez, but stumbled out of the gate. He recovered, but could only manage a third-place finish. Jess A Comment completed the superfecta, followed by The Scotch Is Dun, Making Deals, Jessa Kool Perry and Feature This Cold.

Since the Bank of America Racing Challenge began in 1993, the program has distributed more than $60 million to breeders and owners of racing American Quarter Horses. The outstanding program is now in its twenty first season.

Kite Flyer Takes the $23,400 Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge
The $23,400 Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge featured a rematch of the 2012 champion and runner-up competing at a distance of 870 yards.

This year, Kite Flyer turned the tables on defending champion Bok Man to capture his second Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge.  The 6-year-old Texas-bred son of Royal Quick Dash is trained by Ryan Basham and was making his 25th career start this evening. Regular rider Santos Carrizales hustled his charge from the starting gate and never relinquished the lead, covering 870 yards, over a fast track, in :46.50.

“He’s a great 870 horse; one of the greatest I have ever ridden,” said Carrizales. “Last year we were a little short on his training; this year we knew he was ready.”

“I want to thank Dark Horse Partnership for letting me train this exceptional horse,” said Basham. “We want to go to California to compete, but make one more start here in the Governors Cup Marathon.”

Owned by Dark Horse Partnership, Kite Flyer won here in 2011 and advanced to the final at Los Alamitos, finishing third to Yin Your Eyes.

“We had a goal to get back to Los Alamitos to improve on our effort from 2011,” said Pat O’Neil, one of the four owners of Dark Horse Partnership.  “We’re very proud of him. Our goal is to win it this time.”

Dasher Midnight ran a game second under jockey Alfonso Lujan and Bok Man rallied for third.

Kite Flyer ($3.20) will represent Texas in the $125,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship at Los Alamitos on November 9.

Lets Get Silk Fastest Qualifier in Trials for the Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge
The Friday, April 19 card at Sam Houston Race Park included four trials for the  $18,000-added Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge.  The series is written for American Quarter Horses that are still maidens and enrolled in the Bank of America Racing Challenge may compete in a series of Maiden Challenge Races at selected tracks.

Lets Get Silk owned by Silvia Robles won her 350-yard  trial in :17.978 seconds under rider Ricardo Aguirre. The 3-year old daughter of Mr Jess Berry, trained by Abel Morin,  broke her maiden in her ninth career start and will return to face nine rivals on Saturday, May 4.

A complete list of finalists for the Bank of America Texas Maiden Challenge can be viewed at

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 16 recently renovated 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. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit

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