TEXAS PREVIEW DAY ON TAP FOR SATURDAY
Sam Houston Race Park will present four stakes on Saturday: Jim’s Orbit and Two Altazano divisions of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes, the Houston Turf and Miss Houston Turf, each with a purse of $75,000. This inaugural event serves as a preview for next month’s Texas Champions Day, which will feature seven stakes showcasing the established and rising stars of the Texas Thoroughbred industry.
Saturday night’s action begins in race six, with a field of 12 fillies and mares competing at one mile on the Connally Turf Course in the $75,000 Miss Houston Turf Stakes.
Bred by Eureka Thoroughbred Farm, multiple stakes winner Shes Our Fastest (Oratory – Dawali) owned by Mark Norman and Norman Stables Inc. will make her third start at Sam Houston Race Park as the 7-2 choice. The dark bay filly won the 2019 Yellow Rose here and followed that with a victory in the $65,000 Texas Stallion Stakes last May at Lone Star Park. Her most recent race came on January 10 when she finished third in the $65,000 Orleans Stakes at Delta Downs.
Mindy Willis will saddle stakes winner Texas Belle (Angliana – Inthemiddleofitall) for owner Richard P. Chandler. The 8-year-old mare was also bred by Eureka Thoroughbred Farm. With a career record of 41-9-7-3 and $184,544 in earnings, the morning line has her at 4-1.
Ian Yarnot’s homebred stakes winner Corluna (Unbridled’s Heart – Red Moon Cat) will make her first start since running second in the $50,000 Fiesta Mile on September 6 at Retama Park. The 5-year-old mare is trained by Sarah Delany and has won six of her 17 turf starts. She has odds of 5-1.
Completing the field are Storm Traffic (Traffic Circle – Karen Sue’s Cat); Eaton’s Memory (Eaton’s Gift – Sallys Memo); Zarelda (My Golden Song – Tiz Tiz); Herbs Love (Etesaal – Totally Vested); She’s Pretty Lucky (Lookin at Lucky – Pretty Amusing); My Royal Rocket (Sing Baby Sing – Count My Nichols); Too Much Irish (Too Much Bling – Irish Emily); Brazos Angel (Angliana – Detonate) and Discreet Smile (Discreet Cat – Smiles Golden Song).
Post time for the Miss Houston Turf Stakes is 9:04 pm.
Next up on the card is the six-furlong Two Altazano for fillies. The field of six includes two conditioned by Hall of Fame trainer Steve Asmussen, and they have the best odds in the field.
Stillatune (Intimidator – Stillatouch), bred and owned by Steve’s father, Keith, is the 7-5 favorite. She placed third in the Darby’s Daughter division of the Stallion Stakes at Retama in September and exits a $34,000 allowance sprint at Delta Downs on January 10 where she rallied from off the pace to win by 1 ¼ lengths.
Asmussen will also send out Will Farish’s homebred Brightest (Too Much Bling – Fast Find), who has odds of 2/1. She made her debut at Remington Park last October, finishing tenth, but rebounded gamely with a maiden-breaking score here on January 18.
Trainer Bret Calhoun, who has won the last five editions of the Two Altazano, has entered Dust A Flying (Early Flyer – Dixie Dust) for owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch. Bred by Douglas Scharbauer, she is still a maiden but has run second or third in each of her four previous starts, including a second place finish in the Pan Zareta division of the Stallion Stakes at Lone Star in June.
Rounding out the field are It’s My Money (Early Flyer – Pete’s Five); Sue’s Easter Girl (Early Flyer – Silver Calling); and Tell Me U Love Me (My Golden Song – Red Thread).
The second turf feature of Texas Champions Preview Night is the Houston Turf Stakes with a field of 13 going a mile and a sixteenth on the Connally Turf Course.
Roy W. Cobb’s homebred multiple stakes winner Mr Money Bags (Silver City – Miss Photogenic) was installed as the 2-1 morning line favorite. The 4-year-old gelding has won 8 of his 11 career efforts and this will be his first start on the turf. Trained by Mike Neatherlin, the talented gray won his last three races: the Zia Park Derby and the Roadrunner Stakes at Zia Park and the Stonerside Sprint Stakes here on January 26.
Trainer Larry Stroope will saddle 2018 Houston Turf stakes winner Bonjour Baby (Sing Baby Sing – Secret Sweep), who was bred by Tom Durant and is owned by Alvin Wong. The 7-year-old was 3rd in this race last year and will be seeking his tenth career turf victory. He has odds of 4-1.
Multiple stakes placed Sunlit Song (My Golden Song – Fly So True) will make his 17th lifetime start for breeder Carolyn Barnett who co-owns the 5-year-old gelding with Becky Harding. Trained by Mindy Willis, Sunlit Song placed second in last year’s running of this race. He was given odds of 5-1.
Other competitors include Woulda Coulda Did (Special Rate – Dancingwithfortune); Redatory (Oratory – My Silver Song); Mav Master (Mizzen Mast – Annie Savoy); Right Lane Lukasz (Temple City – Wrenice); Cowboy Bling (Too Much Bling – Frieda Frau); Lethal Move (Street Move – Lethal Temper); Easter Snap (Etesaal – Seneca Song); and full brothers Better Than Magic (My Golden Song – Most Magic) and Gold Buyer (My Golden Song – Most Magic).
The Jim’s Orbit division of the Texas Stallion Stakes is the final feature on the card, with a solid group of stakes tested runners and several Texas-breds stepping up for the first time.
Bred by the late Larry S. Huntsinger and now owned by Michael P. Lyons, Clark O. Brewster and Montgomery Lair, 9/5 favorite Good Judgment (Too Much Bling – Libbies Mission) has won two of his three starts for trainer Steve Asmussen. Good Judgment broke his maiden by 4 ¼ lengths on February 2 at Oaklawn Park.
Owned and trained by Asmussen, Bubba Bling (Too Much Bling – My Silver Song), won the My Dandy division of the Stallion Stakes last September at Retama Park by 2 lengths. He has odds of 3-1.
Bred by Ronald and Margaret Ellerbee, 5-2 Gold Pilot (My Golden Song – Formal Flyer) is trained by Bret Calhoun for owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch. He won a maiden special weight here on January 21.
Completing the field of seven are Wonders of Hislove (Early Flyer – Maymeister); Café Gold (My Golden Song – Santa Café); Lamp Oil (Intimidator – Readylight) and the lone Lousiana-bred, Luckenbacher (Mr. Besilu – Cat’s Production).
RECORD NUMBER OF ENTRIES IN 2YO SALE, NEW INCENTIVES ANNOUNCED
The Texas Thoroughbred Association and Lone Star Park are pleased to announce a record number of consignments to the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale.
More than 175 head, pending the addition of supplements, have been entered in the sale set for Friday, April 3, at noon Central at Lone Star. The under tack show will be held Wednesday, April 1, at 10 a.m. at the track.
This year’s head count is up nearly 35 percent from last year’s 135 (including supplements) and more than double the number in the 2016 sale, which was the first held jointly by the TTA and Lone Star.
“We expected to have more entries after the passage of beneficial legislation in Texas last year, but we were a little surprised by just how much interest there’s been from both consignors and buyers,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the TTA. “We are excited about the two incentive programs related to this sale and the overall increase in purses in Texas and incentives for accredited Texas-breds.”
The passage of H.B. 2463 is expected to inject up to $25 million annually into the Texas horse industry, and its effect is already being seen with increased purses in 2020 for the current Sam Houston Race Park meet and upcoming Lone Star meet.
In addition, money generated by H.B. 2463 is being used to provide a rebate of up to one-half of the entry fee to consignors at this sale. Plus, all graduates of this sale will be eligible for a new purse incentive program for all races this year at Texas tracks. The incentive is available for all graduates, regardless of where they were bred.
As always, sale graduates will be eligible for the Texas Thoroughbred Futurity this summer at Lone Star with divisions for fillies and colts/geldings offering purses of $100,000-estimated apiece.
For more information and the online catalog, including photos and videos after the under tack show, go to ttasales.com.
NOTES: Our condolences to the family of Bob Quigley who passed away Monday at age 90. Quigley, a highly respected retired racing executive, worked at Meadowlands and Garden State Park before coming to oversee the opening of Retama Park in 1992. He continued at Retama Park until his retirement in 1995.