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HOUSTON (July 12, 2008)— More than 7,200 people gathered at Sam Houston Race Park ( for the $114,660 Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship (G1), which featured 5 stakes races and a 10-race card on Saturday, July 12, 2008

The favored horse and ultimate winner of the race was Sassys Tuffy ($8.60), who was the fastest qualifier out of the trials. The horse is trained by The Park’s current leading trainer Dwayne Gilbreath who commented that “he broke really good and made a real comeback at the end passing up Diamond Tres Seis for an exciting finish.” The owner of Sassys Tuffy is Gilbreath’s daughter, Dawn Ivey, from Brock, TX.

The race featured a field of 10 horses going the distance at 440 yards. Guiding the 4-year-old gelding to victory with a time of :21.645 was jockey Jose Alvarez who stated “after the first 100 yards this horse really likes to pick up the pace and run fast. I’m so happy about this win and I truly feel blessed.” According to Sassys Tuffy’s trainer, “we won’t run him again until the championship,” which will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2008, at Evangeline Downs in Opelousas, LA.

Leading out of the break and finishing in close second was Diamond Tres Seis with jockey Gilbert Ortiz aboard. Owned by Mercy and Ray Hinklin and trained by Heath Taylor, this 4-year-old gelding was the third fastest qualifier and winner of the Grade 2 Sam Houston Derby in 2007.

The second favorite horse, Reba Cleata, finished third. The 4-year-old filly ran second in the Grade 1 Remington Park Invitational on June 1, and won a Grade 3 at Manor in April.

The Bank of America Quarter Horse Racing Challenge is Quarter Horse racing’s richest program, with the championship series designed for “America's Fastest Athlete.” The goal of the Bank of America Racing Challenge is to provide more racing opportunities for older American Quarter Horses, ensuring them and their owners the rewards of longer racing careers.

A total of 59 races take place in 11 regions across the United States, Canada, Mexico and South America throughout the year. American Quarter Horses compete in one of six different types of races, depending on their age and ability.

The series culminates with a title night, featuring a total of six championship events and six undercard races, where Bank of America Challenge-enrolled horses are preferred for entry.  The race boasts a $5 million purse and bonus awards program, of which more than 60% is added money from AQHA corporate sponsors and host racetracks.

The 2008 Bank of America Challenge Championships will be held on Saturday, November 8, 2008, at Evangeline Downs, Opelousas, LA. 



            In addition to the Bank of America Texas Challenge Championship, four other stakes races filled the 10-race card tonight at The Park. 

$22,185 Red Cell Texas Distance Challenge (G3)

This race spotlights 870-yard specialists.

Heza Marquette Maker (5 yr old gelding)

:45.647 winning time; speed 96 mph

Jockey Santos Carrizales; Trainer Rick Robinson; Owner John V. Parma

4th Race; Field of 7 horses; 870 yards

“I just had to work with this one horse and that is what made all the difference.  I focused all my time working with him and it really paid off with that performance.  We plan to run him next in the Governors’ Cup Marathon here in August,” said trainer Rick Robinson.

“The horse had 13 months off because he got hurt at Remington in 2007, so the trainers decided to rest him. He’s a great horse and he’ll probably race in one other stakes race before racing in the championship,” commented jockey Santos Carrizales.

Final placement was Heza Marquette Maker ($3.60) by 5 ¼ lengths followed by Blue Ribbon Dash at 1 ¼ lengths and A Dasha Red by ½ length in third.

$33,930 Merial Texas Distaff Challenge (G3)

This race starts the top fillies and mares at 3-years old and up.

Very Dashin 123 (4 yr old filly)

:20.188 winning time; speed 91 mph

Jockey Jose Amador Alvarez; Trainer C. Dwayne Gilbreath; Owner T. Bill Tables, Inc.

5th Race; Field of 8 horses; 400 yards

“This mare has a problem with breaking clean sometimes and tends to bobble a lot, but when she breaks good, she races real nice. I’m not sure what’s next for her, but we’ll probably just rest her for the finals in Louisiana,” said trainer C. Dwayne “Sleepy” Gilbreath.

Final placement was Very Dashin 123 ($10.20) by ¾ of a length followed by Thischicksazita by a nose and Feature For You by a nose coming in third.

$26,550 Fort Dodge Texas Starter Allowance Challenge

This race provides racing opportunities for older claiming horses.

Foxie Minnie (4 yr old filly)

:17.883 winning time; speed 91 mph;

Jockey Jose Alvarez; Trainer Judd S. Kearl; Owner Alejandro Moya

6th Race; Field of 10 horses; 350 yards

“This mare is back to her winning ways. She’s Oklahoma-bred and there aren’t really any stakes races here we’re considering racing in right now so she may not run again until Challenger weekend,” said trainer Judd Kearl.

“She broke really good, made a lot of ground and ran a quick race,” commented jockey Jose Alvarez.

Final placement was Foxie Minnie ($8.40) by 3/4 of a length, One Game Chick in second by 1/4 length and third place, by a nose, went to Mambo Chill.

$64,080 Bayer Legend Texas Derby Challenge (G3)

This race starts outstanding 3-year-olds.

Jessie O’Toole (3 yr old gelding)

:20.353 winning time; speed 87 mph

Jockey Juan Luis Vazquez; Trainer Judd S. Kearl; Owner Azoom LP

7th Race; Field of 10 horses; 400 yards

“I’m very happy with this horse and want to thank both the trainer and jockey,” said Azoom LP owner Enrique Carrion. (partner with Alejandro Barradas, both from Vera Cruz, Mexico.)

“This horse has so much power and is one of the best to ride. The #3 horse [Dirt Track Date] is a really nice horse also and I got a little afraid at the end because I didn’t think I would catch Dirt Track Date, but I did,” commented jockey Juan Vazquez.

Final placements was Jessie O’Toole ($13.20) by a neck, Dirt Track Date by a neck in second and coming in third, also by a neck, was Escondido Beach.

*Juan Luis Vazquez is one of the leading Quarter Horse jockeys in the business today, racing most recently at Remington Park in Oklahoma.


Rounding out the night’s events was the Verizon Wireless post-race concert series on the Bud Light stage by country artist Randy Travis at The Showgrounds. All concert dates and information are listed on

On Friday, July 25 and Saturday, July 26, The Park will host the 2008 Equine Expo, the TQHA Yearling Sale and the TQHA Summer Showdown. The expo will feature a wide variety of vendors promoting and selling their equine-related products and merchandise. The event is held from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. with live Quarter Horse racing immediately following.  The event is open to the public.  For more information visit

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