Jan 21, 2022


Jockey Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez Wins Both Features

HOUSTON, TX-  The first two stakes of the 2022 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred season were contested on Thursday afternoon with Pinky Ring Blingliving up to his post-time favoritism in the $75,000 My Dandy and Texas Thunder breaking her maiden in the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter. The Texas Thoroughbred Association sponsors the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series (TSSS), a set of races for progeny of nominated Texas-based stallions. The series features three sets of races, each split into two divisions (colts/geldings and fillies) for a purse of $75,000 per division. The races honor notable Texas horses of the past.  

Pinky Ring Bling Impressive in the $75,000 My Dandy

A field of five colts and geldings entered the starting gate in the $75,000 My Dandy, but there was no denying 

Pinky Ring Bling who drew off to a 3 ¼ length victory under jockey Ernesto Valdez-Jimenez as the 2-5 favorite. He crossed the wire of the five and one-half furlong race in 1:05.67 over a fast main track. 

Trainer Ronnie Cravens saddled the colt by Too Much Bling, who races for the Lone Star Racing Club. He ran third in the Texas Avenger at Lone Star Park and third in the Kip Deville at Remington Park last September. It marked the colt’s first stakes win as well as the first for Cravens.

“He’s just been getting better and better,” said Cravens. “He’s come a long way since we purchased him (for $5,000) at the TTA Yearling Sale. I‘d like to mention breeder Ronald Ellerbee, who passed away a couple days ago. He’s been a longtime breeder and loved his horses.”

Grami’s Boy dueled gamely for trainer Mindy Willis; had the lead briefly and was able to hold for second. Bodymoor Heath completed the trifecta, followed by Moro Code and Regal Prize.

This was the second victory in six starts for Pinky Ring Bling ($2.80) and the winner’s check of $45,000 boosted his career earnings to $81,860.

My Dandy was a 1925 Texas-bred foal who boasted a lifetime record of 191 starts with 47 wins and earnings of $137,923.  A true “iron horse”, he ran from 1927 to 1935 and in 1930 made 43 starts in a single year.

Texas Thunder Breaks Her Maiden in Style in the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter

Five fillies entered the starting gate in the second feature of the day, the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter with a big score by Carl Moore Management LLC’s Texas Thunder, who lit up the tote board at 25-1.

Bred by Robert Francis, the filly by Braedster ran third in the Texas Stallion Stakes- Pan Zareta Division on June 13 at Lone Star Park before beginning her 2022 season here on January 6. Trainer Karen Jacks was hoping to see improvement from the chestnut filly, but was clearly wowed at her maiden-breaking performance tonight. Under Valdez-Jiminez, she went to the lead and would not be denied. She drew off by five lengths, winning in 1:05.46.

“I knew she had it in her,” said Jacks. “She likes a tighter racing surface, so with the rain we had, I wasn’t sure how it would go today. But she’s very talented and I’m very happy for Carl. We had this plan for her and look forward to the next Texas-bred stakes here.”

Valdez-Jiminez was pleased with winning both features and spoke about Texas Thunder, who rewarded her supporters with a win payout of $58.40.

Eagle Express was sent off the favorite and the Steve Asmussen-trainee ran a game second under jockey Stewart Elliott.    Kim’s Texas Bling, It’s a Gee Thing and Amazonian Queen completed the order of finish.

Darby’s Daughter made her racing debut in 1988, winning two stakes at Louisiana Downs, the Grade 2, Miss Grillo at Aqueduct and the San Clemente Handicap at Del Mar. She retired with an impressive record of five wins from 15 starts and earnings of $435,104. 

Sam Houston Race Park will showcase additional stakes races for Texas-breds on Saturday, February 19 with Texas Preview Day featuring the five stakes and Saturday, March 26 when the northwest Houston racetrack presents Texas Champions Day with seven $100,000 stakes on the card.

Nominations for the Houston Racing Festival Closed on Wednesday, January 19

The Houston Racing Festival with six stakes races offering over $1 million in purses, will take place on Sunday, January 30 with a 1:45 pm (Central) post time. The Grade 3, $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, now in its tenth running, anchors the Houston Racing Festival, which also includes the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup, $200,000 Bob Bork Texas Turf Mile, $100,000 Pulse Power Turf Sprint, $75,000 Jersey Lilly Turf Stakes and $75,000 Stonerside Sprint

The draw for the 2022 Houston Racing Festival card will take place on Sunday, January 23.

About Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston.  Owned by Penn National Gaming. Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and the Jockey Club.  For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visit www.shrp.com


Photo credit:  Coady Photography