photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Azoom's connections receive award from SHRP GM Bob Bork

photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Danny Lavergne

photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Raul Rubalcava

photo by Jack Coady/Coady Photography
Janet Van Bebber
Azoom Voted Horse of the Meeting for the 2004 Sam Houston American Quarter Horse Meeting

Sam Houston Race Park announced the winners of the End of the Meeting Awards for the 2004 Quarter Horse on Friday, November 5.

Two-year-old American Quarter Horse sensation, Azoom, was honored as 2004 Horse of the Meeting. The speedy colt was bred in Texas by Jerry Windham and purchased at the 2003 TQHA Yearling Sale for $62,000 by Enrique Carrion of Veracruz, Mexico. He began his career in Mexico, breaking his maiden on March 12 and winning four races in Mexico City before Carrion sent him to trainer Frank Cavazos at Sam Houston Race Park on May 22. With regular rider, Rodrigo Vallejo, Azoom has captured a record three Grade 1 futurities at Sam Houston Race Park, including the $1,000,000 Texas Classic Futurity on October 29. Furthermore, he set a new track record of :19.574 for the distance of 400-yards when he captured the $350,000 Sam Houston Futurity.

Azoom has now won 11 of his 13 lifetime starts, six of them at Sam Houston Race Park. He will make his final appearance of the meet on November 6 in the $150,000 Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship.

"I'd like to thank Mr. Carrion for giving me the opportunity to train such a great horse," said Cavazos. "We have a great team that has worked hard. He is an amazing horse, a real 'superfreak'."

Danny Lavergne took full advantage of the extended 95-day Quarter Horse meeting at Sam Houston Race Park and was honored tonight as Leading Rider title here. The 45-year-old rider had the best meet of his 30-year career, winning races for a number of horsemen including Roy Roberts, Jeff Acuna, Dave Correll, James Gerhards and Tooter Jordan.

He credits his exemplary numbers this meet to good horses and the hard work of his wife, Ann, who has served as his agent. Winning 140 races is a huge feat, but Lavergne has struggled with back problems throughout the meet and will have surgery this Monday to repair a herniated disk.

"I'd like to thank God, but also need to give thanks to my wife, Ann, who has been a great agent," commented Lavergne. "There is no way I could have won this many races without her hard work and support."

To show his appreciation, Lavergne and Jose Vega, Ann Lavergne's other client, purchased a belt buckle for Ann Lavergne and presented it to her this evening.

Leading owner of the meet is Raul Rubalcava of Wyllie, Texas.

Rubalcava has been a longtime supporter of the TQHA Yearling Sale, held each July at Sam Houston Race Park. His investment of $8,000 in 2001 for Oak Tree Special has really paid off as the son of Special Task has won 16 career starts and was named 2003 AQHA World Champion.

In addition, Rubalcava and his son and trainer, Christian, have won 20 races this meet at Sam Houston Race Park. Some of their notable runners are Shakira Baby, Tomorrows Headlines and Beda Feathers.

Leading Trainer honors went to Janet Van Bebber for the fourth year in a row. She has had an admirable season at Sam Houston Race Park, and made history on October 22, when Sold Out Show won the 59th race of the meeting for Van Bebber racing. Currently her runners have won 62 races, which is an all-time record for a Quarter Horse trainer in a single meeting. Her stakes winners this meeting included Silent Overdrive, winner of the Sam Houston Classic and Brown Special, winner of the Harrisburg Handicap.

Van Bebber had her family and crew with her this evening as she accepted her belt buckle.

"I have my team here tonight for the presentation because I thought that this year I might be vulnerable to not achieving this award,"
said Van Bebber. "I split my stable but when I had to be out of state, my team really pulled it off. They got the job done and won just as many races whether I was here or running a stable elsewhere. My thanks are to them."

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