Wassup T Doc Named Horse of the Meet at Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park concluded its 2007 Quarter Horse meeting on Saturday, September 8 and honored the leading trainer, jockey and owner. In addition, Wassup T Doc was named Horse of the Meeting.

Wassup T Doc had already won his first two starts of the year when he arrived at Sam Houston Race Park for the 2007 Quarter Horse season. The intrepid runner is trained by Jesse Yoakum and owned by Bernardine and Gordon Haslam of Essex Junction, Vermont. The 6-year-old Texas-bred won here on July 1 and added four more consecutive victories for the meet, including a stakes win on July 27 in the $27,100 TQHA Starter Stakes. He swept the Any Given Sunday Starter Series-Sprint Division and was the only horse to win five races this summer at Sam Houston Race Park.

Yoakum has been training at Sam Houston Race Park since the track opened in 1994 and has a 20-year association with the Haslams. Wassup T Doc is a full brother to Doctor Streakin, a multiple- stakes winner trained by Yoakum and owned by the Haslams. Rider Russel Hadley had abundant praise for the son of Doctor Bright out of the Streakin Six mare, Gotum Streakin.

“He’s so consistent, but he also really mentally tough,” acknowledges Hadley. “He’ll run as fast as he has to and when he sees another horse beside him, he digs in and won’t let them pass. He’s tied with just one other Quarter Horse (Gomez Palacio) in the nation with seven wins; that’s pretty amazing.”

Wassup T Doc has been shipped to Lone Star Park for their 2007 Quarter Horse meeting. Yoakum was not sure when the 7-year-old will make his first start.

Trainer Judd Kearl, who won his first Sam Houston Race Park leading trainer title at the northwest Houston racetrack in 2006, won back-to-back titles. He finished the meeting with 30 wins with Bobby Touchet in second with 22 victories and Heath Taylor in third with 20 wins.

His highlights included a stakes victory by Shake Em Fever in the $35,370 John Deere Texas Distaff Challenge and repeat stakes wins by Cmb A Legacy in the $7,500 Gulf Coast Paint and Appaloosa Derby and $10,500 Colors of Houston Paint and Appaloosa Stakes. The 32-year-old conditioner is just the third Quarter Horse trainer in Sam Houston Race Park history to win top honors: the late Steve Van Bebber locked up the leading training honors from 1994 – 2000 and his wife, Janet Van Bebber, continued the legacy from 2001-2005.

“I had a good meet,” said Kearl. “Much of the credit goes to Melinda (assistant trainer, Melinda Garcia) and the crew. I couldn’t ask for any better.”

Kearl enlisted Rodrigo Vallejo as his first call rider and the association worked out well.

“I hope it lasts for a long time,” said Kearl. “Rodrigo has a great work ethic and character, on the track and off.

Arturo Puga won his first leading rider title at Sam Houston Race Park. The 18-year-old jockey won the title at Retama Park and had a very strong meet, winning 42 races to lead Russel Hadley and Rodrigo Vallejo. He and trainer Bobby Touchet formed a solid partnership, winning stakes with Gray Invasion, Patrionic and Check Cathy. Puga rode successfully for Guy Hopkins and Rodolfo Sanchez.

“You are only as good as the horses you ride and I was lucky to ride some great horses this meet,” said Puga, who will ride at Lone Star Park next.

Puga began working horses for Touchet at Manor Downs earlier this year and got on well with Touchet and the entire crew.

“Gray Invasion has to be my favorite,” said Puga. “He’s a fast horse and 550-yard is such a tough distance.”

Puga acknowledges that his friend Rodrigo Vallejo, has been very helpful. Both riders are from Jalisco, Mexico and have chosen to ride Quarter Horses instead of Thoroughbreds.

Although he has done well in Texas, he will explore options in Louisiana next year and dreams of riding at Ruidoso Downs in the All American Futurity.

Leading owner of the meet is A. D. Maddox of Houston. This was the second title for Maddox, who was honored in 2005 and won eight races this year, three more than Pete Scarmardo and the Haslams, who each had five wins.

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