NEWS AND NOTES FOR JANUARY 23, 2015
2014 TEXAS CHAMPIONS NAMED
The Texas Thoroughbred Association has announced the 2014 Texas Champions and named Fiftyshadesofgold as the Texas Horse of the Year as well as Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Filly. The winners were determined by a points system based on performances in stakes races and will be honored by the TTA on June 20 at Lone Star Park.
Bred by the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr. and owned by his son Douglas, Fiftyshadesofgold was one of the top fillies in the country last year after taking the Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Filly title in 2013. The Bret Calhoun trainee kicked off her 2014 campaign in the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series, which was renamed to honor Scharbauer’s contributions to the Texas racing and breeding industry. Fiftyshadesofgold took the Two Altazano division with ease, and then moved into open company where she finished second to eventual Eclipse Award winner Untapable in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. The Texas-bred went on to capture the Grade 3 Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs and ran a good fourth in two Grade 1 races, the Test Stakes at Saratoga and the TVG Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park. She earned $322,731 for the year and retired from racing in September with a career bankroll of $420,521. She will begin her career as a broodmare with a visit to leading sire Tapit.
Fiftyshadesofgold’s sire is My Golden Song, who stands at Valor Farm, a longtime leading stallion station near Pilot Point, Texas, started by the elder Scharbauer. Hadif Cat, a daughter of former Valor Farm stallion Hadif and the dam of Fiftyshadesofgold, will be honored as the Texas Champion Broodmare, and the Estate of Clarence Scharbauer Jr. will get the award as the leading accredited Texas-bred money earner.
Progeny of Valor Farm stallions also swept the juvenile category as Promise Me Silver, by Silver City, was named Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, and W V Jetsetter, by Jet Phone, was named Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding.
Promise Me Silver, bred and owned by Myrna and Robert Luttrell and also trained by Calhoun, was undefeated in four starts last year, including wins in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, Darby’s Daughter division of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park and the Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. She kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with another stakes win in the Dixie Belle Stakes on January 15 at Oaklawn Park.
W V Jetsetter won the TTA Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park and My Dandy division of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama and also finished third in the Grade 2 Toyota Saratoga Special Stakes at Saratoga. Bred by Clarence Scharbauer Jr., the colt first ran for owner Wesley Melcher and trainer Bret Calhoun and then for R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and trainer George Weaver.
Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding honors went to Johnny Evans and Terry Eoff’s F J Uncle Vic. The son of Uncle Abbie of Key Ranch near Salado, Texas, won the Allen’s Landing Stakes against open company at Sam Houston by nearly 10 lengths to start the year and went on to finish second in two editions of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes. The colt, who is trained by co-owner Eoff, also finished third in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap. He kicked off his 4-year-old season with a win in the Star of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston on January 17.
The awards for older horses featured a repeat winner in each category, as Lasting Bubbles defended her crown as Texas Champion Older Filly/Mare and Ol Winedrinker Who earned the title of Texas Champion Older Horse.
Lasting Bubbles, bred and owned by Judy Peek and trained by her son Kevin Peek, won five races and was third four times in 10 starts last year while earning nearly $200,000. The now 7-year-old daughter of Pulling Punches won the Yellow Rose Stakes at Sam Houston, Wayne Hanks Memorial Stakes and Valor Farm Stakes at Lone Star and Zia Park Distaff Stakes in New Mexico. She has hit the board in 21 of 28 career starts with earnings of $368,418.
Ol Winedrinker Who became a three-time champion by winning the Ruidoso Downs Thoroughbred Championship and San Juan County Commissioners Handicap and placing in three other stakes. Bred and owned by Sam and Sammy Stevens, the Sligo Bay (Ire) gelding was the Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding in 2012 and Texas Champion Older Horse last year. The Joel Marr trainee is closing in on $500,000 in lifetime earnings.
The award for Texas Champion Claimer will be announced in March after an online vote among the top Texas-bred claiming horses that ran in the Lone Star State last year.
FOUR STAKES AND SPECIAL PROMOTIONS AT SAM HOUSTON ON SATURDAY
A top quality group of 9 turf specialists will compete in the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, January 24. Trainer Michael Maker won the mile-and-one-eighth turf contest with Admiral Kitten last year and with Papaw Bodie in 2012. This year the noted conditioner sends in two turf specialists, Coalport and Dreams Cut Short.
The Connally Turf Cup was awarded Grade 3 status in 2006, the first Thoroughbred graded stakes at Sam Houston Race Park, which opened in 1994. Previous champions include Chorwon, Fort Prado, Rod and Staff and Candid Glen, who won the stakes a record three times.
Eight fillies and mares, including defending champion Rose to Gold, will compete in the third annual $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic, the richest Thoroughbred race in the state of Texas.
The Ladies Classic Is the first stakes of the Penn Gaming Racing Challenge. The national program will incorporate over 20 stakes races in 2015 worth over $5.5 million. The stakes will take place at Hollywood Casino at Charles Town Races, Hollywood Casino at Penn National Race Course, Sam Houston Race Park, and Zia Park. The Challenge includes tie-ins between groups of races in the series, as well as bonuses and prizes that include free nominations, refund of entry and starter fees, and trips to the PNGI owned M Resort in Las Vegas.
In honor of the race, Sam Houston Race Park has joined forces with the Houston affiliate of the Susan G. Komen® and will donate $1 for each patron to benefit the esteemed charity.
Advance wagering for the January 24 card will be offered today and Sam Houston will offer a special wager, “The $100,000 -Guaranteed All-Stakes Pick-4” with an industry low 12% takeout. The wager will kick off with the $50,000 Frontier Utilities Turf Sprint as the fifth race of the card and conclude with the $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic.
Also on Saturday, Sam Houston Race Park is proud to welcome legendary trainer and iconic Hall of Famer Jack Van Berg to the track. Van Berg will appear and sign copies of his riveting biography, Jack, From Grit to Glory from 5:00 – 8:00 p.m. Meet Van Berg and popular racing analyst Chris Kotulak, author of the biography as part of the Houston Ladies Classic festivities.
Post time for Saturday, January 24 is 6:10 p.m. (CT). The first stakes of the evening, the $75,000 Frontier Utilities Stakes will run as the fifth race on the card, followed by the $50,000 Allen’s Landing Stakes and the Grade 3, $200,000 Connally Turf Cup. The $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic is carded as the eighth race, with an approximate post time of 9:25 p.m.
HRTV, “The Network for Horse Sports” will broadcast a two-hour special beginning at 8:00 pm (CT) from Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday. The special will include live race coverage and special events as part of the stakes-filled card highlighted by the 3nd Annual $400,000 Houston Ladies Classic and the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup.
Peter Lurie, HRTV’s racing analyst, will return to Houston to anchor their live coverage of the evening’s stakes races.
Sam Houston Race Park will also offer a Houston Ladies Classic Wine Tasting. For just $20, patrons can get admission to live racing and take part in a special wine tasting on the club level. They will be able to choose six wines to taste from our list of 12, and have the option to buy a glass of your favorite at the end. Each patron will receive a special Sam Houston Race Park tasting glass.
ACCREDITED TEXAS-BRED FILLIES TAKE BIG STAKES
Thegirlinthatsong, a 4-year-old Texas-bred daughter of Texas stallion My Golden Song, scored an impressive victory on Saturday as she defeated millionaire Lexie Lou in the Grade 2, $200,500 La Canada Stakes at Santa Anita Park.
Sent off at 6-1 odds with Rafael Bejarano riding for trainer Jerry Hollendorfer, the 4-year-old filly drove clear to a 4 ¼-length win in the 1 1/16-mile contest on the main track. The Texas-bred earned the richest payday of her career with a $120,000 first-place check, and her earnings now stand at $407,695 with a record of 19-5-4-4.
Bred by the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr. at his Valor Farm near Pilot Point, which is also the home of My Golden Song, Thegirlinthatsong is out of the Dixieland Band mare Belle of the Band. The dam of Belle of the Band is Alysbelle, a full sister to the great Kentucky Derby and Breeders’ Cup Classic Alysheba who was campaigned by Scharbauer’s wife, Dorothy, and daughter, Pam.
Coincidentally, Thegirlinthatsong won the Got Koko division of the Texas Stallion Stakes last year at Lone Star Park, a race named for the Texas-bred who captured the 2003 edition of the La Canada.
It may not have been the trip they had been hoping for, but trainer Bret Calhoun and jockey Cliff Berry got the result they wanted when Texas-bred Promise Me Silver rallied up the rail late to remain a perfect five-for-five with her victory by a neck in Thursday’s $100,000 Dixie Belle Stakes at Oaklawn.
Bred and owned by Myrna and Robert Luttrell, Promise Me Silver was boxed in and forced to race in fourth position as Super Saks led through an opening quarter in :21 3/5 and :45 3/5 for the first half mile. The eventual winner split horses and wore down the leaders to win in a final time of 1:11 2/5 for six furlongs over a fast track.
Calhoun said after the race that the $100,000 Martha Washington Stakes Jan. 31 was a “possibility” for Promise Me Silver, who has now earned $214,355. She returned $3.20, $2.60 and $2.20 as the heavy 3-5 favorite.
The daughter of Valor Farm stallion Silver City is now undefeated at five different racetracks: she broke her maiden at Lone Star Park, took the $108,300 Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, captured the $75,000 Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park and took the $50,000 Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds during her 2-year-old campaign.
IMPORTANT TTA DEADLINES APPROACHING
The first sustaining payment for the 2015 TTA Sales Futurity, for horses nominated in December, is now due. The payment must have a post, fax or credit card date no later than February 2, 2015. The payment due is $250. Late payments cannot be accepted without payment of the $2,500 late fee.
The deadline to pay the early annual administrative fee for accredited stallions standing in Texas in 2015 is a postmark date of February 2, 2015. That fee is $200. After that date the fee is $325 until August 1, 2015, and cannot be accepted for 2015 after August 1.
The second leg of the 2014 Texas Stallion Stakes Series (foals of 2012) will be run at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday, February 14, 2015. Both divisions will be run at a distance of 7 furlongs, each for a purse of $75,000. Entries will be taken Monday, February 9.
NOTES: The Jockey Club reminds owners and breeders that a valid attempt to name foals of 2013 must be made by Feb. 1 to avoid a $100 late fee…Congrats to TTA Director Rick Penn, who was elected as 2nd Vice President, replacing Mark Martinez, whose term ended December 31st..Officers will be elected again in June…Mark your calendars and plan to attend the TTA Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner at Lone Star Park on Saturday, June 20th… Earlier this week, Travis County Court Judge Lora Livingston, denied a motion to modify her final judgment in the November 2014 hearing in the lawsuit against the Texas Racing Commission in regard to Historical Racing…The deadline to file appeal is March 3rd…The deadline for receipt of Texas Thoroughbred Education Fund Scholarship applications is February 16th.