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SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK’S TEXAS CHAMPIONS DAY HELD AT RETAMA PARK ON SATURDAY, DECEMBER 6, 2008

Top Trainer Steve Asmussen Earns Two Stakes and Jockeys Luis Quinonez and Eguard Tejera Lead Mounts to Big Victories During Major Night of Texas Thoroughbred Racing

    

HOUSTON (December 8, 2008)—Sam Houston Race Park (www.shrp.com), with the support and cooperation of the Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) and Retama Park (www.retamapark.com), held its annual Texas Champions Day, a live Thoroughbred racing event featuring the top Texas racers on Saturday, December 6, in San Antonio at Retama Park.  The signature event celebrated Thoroughbred horses, trainers, breeders and owners in the Lone Star State, and included eight stakes races and $450,000 in racing purses.  The evening was full of upsets and surprising champions, providing fans of all ages the opportunity to see some of the best live racing in the region. 

The Texas Racing Commission (www.txrc.state.tx.us) previously approved the request to move a portion of The Park’s Thoroughbred racing dates to Retama Park as a result of damage suffered by the Houston race track from Hurricane Ike. 

The chilly San Antonio weather didn’t stop major victories for jockeys Luis Quinonez or Eguard Tejera, both of whom took home three wins for the night.  In addition, North American leading trainer Steve Asmussen took home two top honors including the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes and the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes.

The night’s largest stakes race, the $75,000 Star of Texas Stakes, was a highly anticipated race featuring nine-year old, two time champion Sandburr battling it out against a solid field of eight other horses in an attempt to take home his third consecutive win in the race.  The favorite horse proved to be a worthy opponent but couldn’t edge out Waco Hug ($11.20), who took first place, or Taksent who crossed the wire by a neck ahead of Sandburr. 

Waco Hug, trained by Danny Pish and led to victory by jockey Jose Figueroa, broke well from the gate and began to turn on the heat in a strong drive on the outside final turn where he shot past the competition crossing the wire at 1:48.14.  Taksent rallied at the final turn but didn’t have enough in him to over take Waco Hug’s lead.  Sam Houston Race Park Vice President Eric Johnston and Assistant Racing Secretary Don Thompson were on-hand to present the winning trophy to Pish, Figueroa and owners Tigertail Ranch.  

The 1 1/16 mile race finishing order was: Waco Hug, Taksent, Sandburr, C E P A’s Forum, Windy Lou, Dreamsandvisions, Wild Minstrel, Rare Flyer and Uncle Rose.

The $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes proved to be an exciting opening stakes race at Retama featuring six top racers going six furlongs on the dirt track.  The 4-year old, Asmussen-trained filly Stealth Cat ($2.80), ridden by Luis Quinonez in his first major victory of the night, barely broke a sweat from start to finish as she crossed the line more than 12 lengths ahead of the other racers.  Stealth Cat, owned by J. Kirk Robinson, earned a second place win in the 2007 race and her much improved performance and speed this year made untouchable by the competition. Her final time was 1:11.31.  The race for second place landed Moneyinmywranglers, who finished third in the 2007 race, slightly more than 2 lengths ahead of Susan’s Fancy.  Final placement was Stealth Cat, Moneyinmywranglers, Susan’s Fancy, Dixie Dist, Dawali and Amarula.  Classie Baloo, You Know Who I Am and Formal Flyer scratched from the race.

The Spirit of Texas featured a $50,000 purse and was captured with one of the fastest six furlong runs of the evening by favorite Seneca Summer ($7.20), a 7-year-old brown gelding owned by Barbara Rehbein, and guided to victory by Eguard Tejera, in his first victory of the night, with a final time of 1:11.04.  Coming in behind Seneca Summer was Snuck By, who finished in third place in 2007 and captured second place honors this year, followed by Prince Krimmer, Cocoa Max, Filet Gumbo, Toga Too, Charles Edwin, Eye Wonder and Tru Dancing. 

The $50,000 Martanza Stakes earned Taptam ($5.40) and jockey M. Clifton Berry a win by half a length over Formal Flyer with a time of 1:40.76. Taptam settled into the pace down the back stretch and closed quickly on the outside in the final strides to take the win ahead of Formal Flyer.  The race featured 7 horses in the first one mile race of the night.  Final placement was Taptam, Formal Flyer, La Estrellita, Light Lace, Bionic Shadow, Monarchos Star and Classic Baloo.

The Bara Lass Stakes, offering a $50,000 purse for two year old fillies, earned jockey Quinonez his second victory of the night aboard Asmussen-trained Tiffany Royal ($4.60), owned by Heiligbrodt Racing Stable and Keith Asmussen.  The seven furlong race featured a strong drive out of the gate with Tiffany Royal taking the early lead.  Close behind down the home stretch was Valid Code, but Tiffany Royal had a final push that landed her across the wire more than three lengths ahead with a time of 1:25.96.  Final placement was Tiffany Royal, Valid Code, Deer Lassie, The Cat Who, Monica’s Skirmish, Sals Legend, Fourstarattraction, Streakin’ Nun and Misty G.

The $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes, a 1 1/16 mile race along the turf track for fillies and mares, earned Quinonez his third win of the night with four-year old filly Pretty Squall ($4.20), who is trained by Morris G. Nicks and owned by Don Eberts.  She set a well rated pace from the start and drew clear of the pack in the upper stretch where she continued to run easy and take top honors with a final time of 1:44.77.  Final placement for the field of nine horses was Pretty Squall, Little Axe Leoleta, Issheademon, Senora Tormenta, Hole in One, Highflyingprices, Counterfeit Halo, Color of Cash, Speed Fast.

The $50,000 Groovy Stakes featured the largest field of the night with 14 top Thoroughbreds taking to the seven furlong course.  Breaking out of the gate and leading on the inside was Valid Stripes ($34.00), trained by Amos Laborde and owned by Donald W. Erickson, who easily maintained his lead and won by 11 lengths with a time of 1:23.94.  Jockey Eguard Tejera pulled off a major upset against the Asmussen-trained horses, Justwill and Belton, along with second place winner He’s Boy Wonder, trained by Danny Pish, for his second win of the night.  Final placement for the field was Valid Stripes, He’s Boy Wonder, Justwill, Poltergeist, Cuvee Star, Valid Performance, Pacific Tsunami, Lucky Raja, Expect Smoke, Cashinmywranglers, Border Cuvee, Gentle Flyer, Our Expectation and Belton.

The  Richard King $50,000 Stakes race was the final turf race of the night featuring a 1 1/8 mile course with Rapid Squall ($5.20) and jockey Tejera earning the win with a time of 1:51.44.  The 3-year old brown gelding, owned by Ronald J. Podraza Sr., and trained by Val Ray Foster, Sr. beat out seven other horses after settling in early and rallying three wide on the far turn to pass Ablaze With Spirit and win by one length.  Final placement was Rapid Squall, Ablaze with Spirit, Favorite Jazz, Bullet Crane, Joe Peak, Downtown Jones, Haveuseenthelight and Mad at Cha.

Live racing returns to Sam Houston Race Park on May 1, 2009.  For more information and updates on The Park, visit www.shrp.com.

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located 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 Jockey Club.  The Park’s newest addition, The Showgrounds, is an all-ages venue that hosts annual Country, Classic Rock and Contemporary concert events throughout the year.  For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.theshowgrounds.com.

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