THE FIELD IS SET FOR THE $100,000 MAXXAM GOLD CUP AT SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK ON SATURDAY, FEBRUARY 24
Three Additional Stakes Will Also be Contested
The Maxxam Gold Racing Festival is set for Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park and will feature four stakes. The $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup, at a distance of a mile and one-eighth on the main track, will run as the eighth race of the card.
The field features an interesting mix of seasoned veterans as well as several horses rising the ranks and testing their skills at nine furlongs.
Trainer Kenny McPeek is shipping in Blueridge Traveler for owner Horizon Stables. The 4-year-old son of To Honor and Serve showed considerable promise in his 3-year-old campaign, running second in the Grade 3, $500,000 Spiral Stakes last March at Turfway Park.
“He’s a really nice horse,” said McPeek. “He had a physical issue last Spring and we had to lay off, but he’s come back strong.”
He has already run in a pair of allowance races at Oaklawn Park this year, and was a game winner on February 10, coming off the pace in a mile and one-sixteenth race over a sloppy track.
“I really wanted to try him at a mile and one eighth, and he prepped for this with a good win at Oaklawn,” explained McPeek.
Jockey Channing Hill, who has ridden the bay colt for McPeek in four of his nine career starts, will make the trip to Houston on Saturday.
“As far as the trip, I’ll leave that to Channing,” added McPeek.
McPeek made his first trip to Sam Houston in 2002 with the incomparable Take Charge Lady who won the $275,000 NTRA Great State Challenge Distaff. He returned in 2013 and saddled the winner of the Maxxam Gold Cup, Unstoppable U a 4year-old Exchange Rate colt owned by Magdalena Racing and Mojallali Stables, Inc. The Kentucky-based horsemen made a third trip to Houston for the 2014 Maxxam Gold Cup with Frac Daddy, who ran a game second to the classy Red Rifle.
End Zone Athletics Inc.’s Social Misfit is the high earner in the field with $413,768 banked in 59 races. Trainer Karl Broberg has tapped current leading rider Iram Diego to pilot the 9-year-old gelding by Porto Foricos. The Louisiana-bred will make his Sam Houston Race Park debut on Saturday. He exits a third-place finish in the $170,000 Louisiana Premier Night Stakes at Delta Downs on February 3, a race that was won by 2016 Maxxam Gold Cup champion Mobile Bay!
Holiday Mischief, owned by Joe Offolter and Carter Thoroughbreds LLC, is another experienced veteran, who will be making his 52nd career start in the Maxxam. The 8-year-old Kentucky-bred has run well at Sam Houston Race Park for Offolter, who also trains the bay gelding.
“He’s just such a sound runner and great horse to be around,” said Offolter. “He might have won a stakes as a 3-year-old at Sam Houston, but that was the year that Departed showed up and he was a monster! Ivan Arellano has done well for us this meet; he’s a good rider and we wanted to give him a chance in this stakes.”
Clinton Stuart will saddle Net Gain, a 6-year-old sired by Include for Claim To Fame Stable. The Iowa-bred is a multiple stakes winner and earner of $347,548, who ran here in the Grade 3 Connally Turf Cup on January 28. Jockey Glenn Corbett has the call.
Rounding out the field is Bryan Porter’s Franco with Lane Luzzi up, and Hyper Drive, who drew the far outside post under jockey Lindey Wade. The 5-year-old Oklahoma-bred is owned by Henry Thilmony and trained by Randy Oberlander. He has bankrolled $168,388 in 24 starts.
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.
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.
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