FULL FIELDS DRAWN FOR THE THREE MAXXAM RACING FESTIVAL UNDERCARD STAKES AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24
$100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup Set as the Eighth Race of the Evening
HOUSTON, TX – The Maxxam Gold Racing Festival will take place Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park and will feature the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup.
The February 24th card gets underway at 6:00 pm (CT). The Maxxam Gold Cup will run as the eighth race and will be joined by two turf stakes, the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes for fillies and mares and the $50,000 Houston Turf Stakes for accredited Texas-breds. The Maxxam Racing Festival also includes the $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup at the distance six furlongs on the main track.
Quality Field of Nine Entered in the $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup
Saturday’s stakes action gets underway in the sixth race of the card with nine accomplished runners in the six-furlong $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup.
Trainer Tom Morley sends in Schivarelli for owners Homewrecker Racing LLC. The Florida-bred son of Montbrook was claimed for $50,000 by Morley last year at Aqueduct and recently ran in stakes company at Laurel Park.
“The horse ran huge at Laurel,” said Morley. “We thought this was a good spot for him. No worries about an off track as he has handled moisture with no problem.”
Morley reports that Schivarelli will van over Saturday from Fair Grounds. He has given the mount to Lane Luzzi, who is in fourth place in the jockey standings in his first season riding at Sam Houston Race Park.
“My wife (NYRA’s Maggie Wolfendale) and I know Lane well,” said Morley. “He galloped for us in New York and we are delighted to see him having success.”
Leading Sam Houston Race Park conditioner Steve Asmussen ships in Counterforce for Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC. The 5-year-old son of Smart Strike competed in graded stakes in New York and Pennsylvania. He will ship in from Oaklawn Park and make his Sam Houston debut with Asmussen’s Houston first call rider Iram Diego up.
Sea Vow, a $20,000 claim by End Zone Athletics, Inc. will break from the far outside under Quincy Hamilton. Trained by Karl Broberg, the 5-year-old sired by Private Vow has won six of his 21 starts, banking $321,230 to date.
Supermason, owned by Brad Grady, is a talented 6-year-old son of Grasshopper with a solid stakes record. He won the 2015 Jim’s Orbit at Sam Houston Race Park and competed in both the 2017 and 2018 editions of the Spirit of Texas. Lindey Wade has the return call.
“Imma Bling ran a huge race in the Spirit of Texas,” said Calhoun, of Supermason’s sixth place finish here on January 28.
Witt’sdollarnight ran second at big odds in the Spirit of Texas for owner Henry S. Witt and will return to action under jockey Ezequiel Lara. The 4-year-old son of Mr. Nightlinger is trained by Terry Eoff.
Defending Champion Stormquility Takes on Eight Rival3+6s in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes
The $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes for fillies and mares at a distance of a mile and one-sixteenth on the Connally Turf course could be the most competitive of the four stakes races of the Maxxam Racing Festival.
Stormquility, owned by Stacy and Steve Uhland and Barry Koch, is the defending champion and prepped for this with an allowance win on February 9 under confident handling from jockey Quincy Hamilton. The 7-year-old daughter of After Market is trained by Tim Williams and will be seeking her ninth career victory Saturday night.
Her challengers are plentiful, including Henry Witt, Jr.’s homebred Witt’s Town, winner of the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes here on January 27. Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez will guide Witt’s Town from the far inside post for trainer Terry Eoff.
“I like her chances,” said Witt. “She’s really fast on the turf, but can handle an off track as well.”
Multiple-stakes winner Zippit E, who captured the $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes on the same Texas Champions card will reunite with jockey Lindey Wade. Owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch, the 5-year-old daughter of My Golden Song is trained by Bret Calhoun.
“We thought early on she was going to be a really good turf horse,” said Calhoun. “She lost a little confidence up in Indiana last summer, but came back strong in her win in Houston.”
New talent includes Brereton Jones’ homebred Proud Reunion, who ships in from Fair Grounds for trainer Tom Proctor. The 4-year-old filly by Proud Citizen has run in graded stakes and will be ridden by Sophie Doyle. Asmussen will run Brooks House, a Mizzen Mast mare owned by Millennium Farms, who also exits a turf race last month at Fair Grounds.
Mav Master Returns in the $50,000 Houston Turf Stakes
The final stakes of the Maxxam Racing Festival is the $50,000 Houston Turf Stakes with a field of ten accredited Texas-breds going a mile and one-sixteenth.
Mav Master, bred and owned by Hal Browning and trained by Kari Craddock, will be a horse to reckon with, whether the race is run on turf or dirt. The 5-year-old son of Mizzen Mast out of the stakes winning mare Annie Savoy, closed with authority to win the $50,000 Richard King here in January. The mile and one-eighth turf feature was run on the main track due to heavy rain, but the surface switch was not a problem. Jockey Lindey Wade guided Mav Master to a victory by a neck over Special Praise.
“He showed me so much in that race,” said Craddock. “I didn’t know if he could handle the mile and one-eighth, but he really dug in and persevered. Plus, he gets along really well with Lindey.”
Craddock and Hal Browning have a wonderful history with many quality Texas and Oklahoma-breds. Craddock is now into her third generation beginning with Miss Diamond Mine, the dam of Annie Savoy and now Mav Master.
“Miss Diamond Mine was stakes-placed in Houston during her career,” stated Craddock. The one thing that Mav Master, Annie Savoy and Miss Diamond Mine have in common is that they all like to win!”
Special Praise returns for breeder/owner Ronald J. Podraza, Sr. and trainer Allen Dupuy. He is one of seven Texas-breds that also competed in the 2018 Richard King.
Can’t Be Wrong, a 5-year-old son of Broken Vow, won the 2017 Richard King, which was run on the main track due to heavy rain last year. Bred and owned by Maccassar Corporation, he has proven his affinity for the grass, with four turf wins from eight starts, including back-to-back victories in the $50,000 Texas Hall of Fame at Retama Park. Trained by Danny Pish, Can’t Be Wrong will be ridden by Ted Gondron from the far outside post.
$100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup
As previously released, the field features an interesting mix of seasoned veterans as well as several horses rising the ranks and testing their skills at nine furlongs.
The complete field, in post position order, with riders is: Social Misfit, Iram Diego; Blueridge Traveler, Channing Hill; Franco, Lane Luzzi; Net Gain, Glenn Corbett; Holiday Mischief, Ivan Arellano and Hyper Drive, Lindey Wade.
The Maxxam Gold Cup at Sam Houston Race Park had its first running in 1994 and has produced an outstanding roster of distance specialists. Past champions include Student Council, Valhol, Alumni Hall, Cease, Unstoppable U and Red Rifle. Two millionaires have won previous editions of the Maxxam Gold Cup: 2016 champion Mobile Bay as well as last year’s winner, Iron Fist.
Sam Houston Race Park, Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, is located just 15 miles from downtown Houston, and offers a variety of attractions including 16 luxury suites overlooking the race track, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and Jockey Club. For more information on upcoming shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com.
Photo: Coady Photography