News and Notes for February 27, 2015


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Since the senate version of the state budget defunds the Texas Racing Commission, now would be a perfect time for you to contact your legislators.  We urge you to be polite and respectful in addressing the vital role the TRC plays in regulating the horse racing industry, and ask for the legislator’s help in assuring budget funding for the Commission.

The Maxxam Gold Racing Festival is set for Saturday night at Sam Houston Race Park and will feature three stakes. The $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup will be run as the 9th race of the Saturday evening card, which gets underway at 6:10 pm (CT). The $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes for 3-year-olds at a distance of one mile is set as race 8 and the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes for fillies and mares going a mile and a sixteenth on the turf will run as the 7th race.

F J Uncle Vic (Uncle Abbie – Let Her Reign) is the lone Accredited Texas-bred entered in the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup. The 4-year-old was the winner of the 2014 Allen’s Landing and 2015 Star of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston.  Trainer Terry Eoff owns the colt in partnership with Johnny Evans.

Trainer Larry Jones sends in 9 – 5 favorite Albano, a 4-year-old son of Istan, bred and owned by Brereton Jones.  This will be the 11th start for Albano, who won the Grade 3 Pegasus Stakes last summer at Monmouth Park and was the runner-up in the Grade 1 Haskell Invitational.

Trainer Ken McPeek returns with C J’s Awesome, a 4-year-old Kentucky-bred owned by Carl Gessler, Jr. and Dan Wiginton.  The son of Awesome Again will make his first start since running fourth in the Grade 2, Indiana Derby on October 4.

McPeek won the 2013 Maxxam Gold Cup with Unstoppable U, a 4year-old Exchange Rate colt owned by Magdalena Racing and Mojallali Stables, Inc. Last year the Kentucky-based horsemen ran second in the Maxxam with Frac Daddy.

The remaining entrants are Danny Keene’s 8-year-old Hattaash, who has earned $371,098 in his 55 starts; recent turf allowance winner Woodman’s Luck, a Cal-bred owned by Jeffrey Kass and Florida-bred Endurance, who races for Sepulveda Racin and Ropin Ranch.

Trainer Mike Maker has already won three stakes in the 2015 Sam Houston Race Park Thoroughbred meet and has a very good chance to add his fourth title in the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes. 

Kitten’s Queen, a 5-year-old daughter of Kitten’s Joy, has been installed as the 5-2 morning line choice in the mile and one-sixteenth turf feature for fillies and mares. Bred and owned by Kenneth and Sarah Ramsey, Kitten’s Queen ships to Houston off a second-place finish in the Blushing KD Stakes at Fair Grounds.

Maker and the Ramseys have a strong track record in the Jersey Lilly, winning last year’s stakes with Always Kitten and the 2013 edition of the turf stakes with Artemus Kitten.

Trainer Larry Stroope will send out Sylvia Baird’s Texas homebred Smiles Golden Song (My Golden Song – Texas Smile), who is seeking to add to her career earnings of $194,969 for 26 starts.

Accredited Texas-bred Vilao (Grave Digger – Toogoodtobe Easy) will be saddled by Rebecca Baker for Rugged Cross Racing.  The 6-year-old mare has a career record of 21-4-9-1 with $145,858 in earnings.

The ten-horse field also includes Satin Gold, Antonia Autumn, One Time Only, Street of Gold, I Dazzle, Femme Fatale, and Compelling Case.

Coming off a nice allowance win, Henry Witt’s Accredited Texas-bred Witt Six (Drums of Thunder – Taitt Hill) will face some tough competition from shippers in the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes. Amanda Barton will saddle the 3-year-old gelding, who has been given odds of 6 – 1.

Trainer Steve Asmussen ships in undefeated Academy Bay, who has been installed as the 2-1 favorite in the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes. The Indiana-bred son of Magna Graduate broke his maiden by 7 lengths on October 2 at Indiana Grand. One month later, he came off the pace to score his first stakes win in the $85,000 Indiana Futurity.

Last Saturday, jockey Deshawn Parker won the $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup on Turfway Park invader Ghost is Clear for Mike Maker. He will ride another Turfway shipper, Houston Fire in the Texas Heritage.

Bagpipes, A Day in Paradise, My Nephew Andrew and Yes I’m A Jewel complete the field.

The Texas Heritage Stakes has been a springboard race for several notable champions including 2005 winner Leaving on My Mind who was the 2004 Texas Thoroughbred Horse of the Year as well as Departing, who won in 2013, then added three graded stakes and amassed earnings of $1.5 million. Perhaps the most notable is Kip Deville, a Fasig-Tipton Texas Yearling Sale graduate, who captured the 2006 edition of the Texas Heritage Stakes and became a multiple Grade 1 winner. The Oklahoma-bred won the 2007 Breeders’ Cup Mile at Monmouth Park and earned $3.3 million in his illustrious career.

Attention Horsemen!  Do you have a Thoroughbred nearing the end of its racing career?

The Paddock Foundation, a non-profit organization launched by the Texas Thoroughbred Association to support and advance Thoroughbred aftercare, is pleased to announce the inaugural Roses to Ribbons Old Fashioned Horse Fair will be held March 8 at 11 a.m. at Sam Houston Race Park.

The event is designed to promote Thoroughbred horses moving to new careers after racing. This is not an auction – it is an opportunity for private sales to be negotiated between buyers and sellers.  There will be horses available and a chance for prospective buyers to meet with racehorse trainers and tell them what kind of horse they are seeking.

Racehorse rehoming organizations will have information booths and there will be tack available for sale or trade, along with concessions. This event is an opportunity for owners and trainers to find a new home for their racehorses who are ready to exit the racetrack.

“Part of our responsibility as racehorse owners, breeders and trainers is to help further the education and careers of these horses once they leave the racetrack,” said Mary Ruyle, executive director of the Texas Thoroughbred Association. “We hope this event is another step forward in achieving that goal, and we invite everyone from the racing industry and those outside the industry to attend.”

NOTES: A deal in the works since last summer is expected to close today with The Jockey Club purchasing a controlling 51 percent interest in Blood-Horse Publications from the Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA)…Breeders’ Cup has announced that tickets for the Oct. 30-31 World Championships at Keeneland will be available for purchase at noon March 4…The 2015 Battle of the X’s Trainers Challenge and All Thoroughbred Horse Show is scheduled for  March 21 – 22 at the Will Rogers Equestrian Center in Fort Worth… Thoroughbred Owners and Breeders Association (TOBA) is holding an educational Ownership Seminar at Lone Star Park on Sunday, March 29. TTA members get a special rate of only $90 for the event!  Register here: .  To get the special rate, please register as a TOBA member…The next regular meeting of the TTA Board of Directors is scheduled for 5 p.m. on Monday, March 30 at Lone Star Park…Mark your calendars and plan to attend the TTA Annual Meeting and Awards Dinner on Saturday, June 20 at Lone Star Park.