||Texas Champions Day Highlights Opening Weekend of Sam Houston Race Park's Thoroughbred Meet
- January 19, 2011) - Sam Houston Race Park offers a solid opening weekend highlighted by Texas Champions Day on Saturday, January 22. With the support of the Texas Thoroughbred Association, Texas Champions Day showcases Texas-bred racehorses in seven stakes races with purses of $400,000.
Last year, Texas Champions Day was held in December and native Texan Bret Calhoun was dominant, winning three of the stakes on the premier night of racing. His talented filly Bubbler won the $100,000 Gallery Furniture Distaff; Chief of Affairs never relinquished the lead in the $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes and two-year-old Tin Top Cat overcame a five month layoff to win the $50,000 Groovy Stakes.
Calhoun, who had the best year of his training career in 2010, was ranked sixth in North America in 2010 with 233 wins and earnings of $7.9 million. He won two Breeders' Cup stakes last November at Churchill Downs with Chamberlain Bridge and Dubai Majesty, winner of the Sentient Jet Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint, who was honored as the Eclipse Award winning Champion Female sprinter on Monday evening.
Spirit of Texas Stakes defending champion Chief of Affairs returns from a lengthy rest. The bay colt will make his first start since running fourth in the Grade 3 Aristides Stakes on May 29 at Churchill Downs. Owned by Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch of Dallas, Texas, Chief of Affairs underwent surgery to repair a chip in his ankle in June and has shown a series of promising works, beginning last month at Fair Grounds. On January 15, he worked four furlongs in 48.40 seconds, the second fastest work of the day.
"He is a really nice horse and we are pleased with the way he has trained for this race," said Calhoun from his barn at Fair Grounds. "We will be three deep in the stakes with, Gold Coyote and Pacific Tsunami. Cliff Berry is coming in to ride and has the mount on Chief of Affairs."
Calhoun has named Bobby Walker, Jr. on the six-year-old Gold Coyote, who has earned $424,400 to date for his owner and breeder, Clarence Scharbauer, Jr. Two-time Sam Houston Race Park leading rider, Quincy Hamilton has the mount aboard Pacific Tsunami, a five-year-old son of Magic Cat who won two of his last three starts at Remington Park. Also entered in the six-furlong Spirit of Texas Stakes is the 10-year-old veteran, Goosey Moose, who will be saddled by top Texas horseman, Danny Pish.
One other star on the Texas Champions Day card is another Calhoun trainee, Taptam, a six-year-old daughter of Pleasant Tap. She will take on the boys in the $100,000 Star of Texas, presented by Emirates Airlines. The talented mare was just named 2010 Texas Horse of the Year by the Texas Thoroughbred Association. Bred by Sanders, Taptam will make her 32nd lifetime start in the mile and one-sixteenth stakes with regular rider, Berry aboard. She won the 2008 Martanza Stakes at Sam Houston and was the post time favorite in the 2009 Star of Texas, finishing a disappointing ninth. Her connections still believed in the chestnut mare and shipped her to Oaklawn Park. She won two in a row, before running second to 2010 Horse of the Year, Zenyatta in the Grade 1, $500,000 Apple Blossom.
"Taptam is a classy mare and we were very happy to learn she was named Texas Champion of the Year," said Calhoun. "It's been a tough go in Texas, and I am grateful for owners like Larry and Wayne. Having days like Texas Champions Day makes this it all worthwhile."
Her rivals in the Star of Texas include Perfect Lou, a four-year-old colt trained by Cash Asmussen. Owned by Markpoint Stables and Dragonfly Racing Club, LLC, Perfect Lou was stakes placed in at Delta Downs, but has not been in action since July 15. Quiet Again ships in from Sunland Park for trainer Fred Danley and owner/breeder Paul Bruce Thomason. The son of 1998 Kentucky Derby and Preakness Stakes winner Real Quiet has won 11 of his 33 career starts and will be ridden by Glen Murphy. Dandy's Legacy prepped for this stakes at Sunland Park on January 2. The four-year-old son of Serazzo will break from post 4 for trainer Gary Cross and owner Jay Meteer.
Post time for Texas Champions Day is 7:00 p.m. with ten races on the evening card. The seven stakes include the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes (post time: 7:26 p.m.); $50,000 Groovy Stakes (post time: 7:51 p.m.); $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes (post time: 8:18); $50,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes (post time: 8:41 p.m.); $50,000 Yellow Rose Stakes (post time: 9:10 p.m.); $100,000 Star of Texas presented by Emirates Airlines (post time: 9:36 p.m.) and the $50,000 Richard King Stakes (post time: 10:02 p.m.).
The 2011 Thoroughbred meet continues through Monday, March 7th, with post times set for Friday and Saturday (7 p.m.), Sunday (5 p.m.) and Monday (1:20 p.m.). Live American Quarter Horse racing will start on Friday, March 11th and run through Sunday, May 15th with races every Friday, Saturday and Sunday. For the full calendar of Sam Houston Race Park’s 2011 live race dates, visit www.shrp.com.