Full Fields for Both Accredited Texas-bred Features on the Houston Racing Festival Card

HOUSTON, TX-  Sam Houston Race Park hosted its annual Houston Racing Festival program on Saturday, January 28. As previously reportedPauline’s Pearl defended her title in the Grade 3, $300,000 Houston Ladies Classic with Scarlet Fusion taking the Grade 3, $200,000 John B. Connally Turf Cup. There was also plenty of talent earlier on the card in both of the stakes for accredited Texas-breds.

Front Running Score for Izatiz  in the $100,000 Bara Lass

The first stakes of the Houston Racing Festival was the $100,000 Bara Lass for Texas-bred 3-year-old fillies. 

On January 7, Billy Clevenger’s Izatiz, finished second in the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter, but bested that effort with conviction. Breaking from the far outside under jockey Reylu Gutierrez, the daughter of My Golden Song out of the Tiznow mare Tiz Tiz handled the sloppy track admirably, taking the lead and drawing off to victory by a margin of 7 ½ lengths over Blushing Belle. She covered six lengths in 1:13.44 clinching her second win and first stakes victory.

IZATIZ / Coady Photography

“I was very lucky to load last and keep her calm in the gates,” said Gutierrez. “This filly was very agile and got the job done today.”

Trainer David Gomez liked his far outside draw and was pleased with her performance.

“We were hoping the speed would go and settle behind, but when she broke so well, Rey just let her go,” he said. “She’s a brilliant filly and we hope to see her win more stakes in the future.”

Texas breeder Clevenger, and his wife Linda, also owned and bred Izatiz’s full sister Zarelda. He was hoping for the victory in the My Dandy but loved the performance of Izatiz scoring her first stakes.

“She finally got a clean trip and that was the biggest thing,” stated Clevenger. “I have to thank Mattress Mack who gave us this mare. Her sister, Zarelda was stakes-placed here, so as a small breeder, it’s really a thrill.”

Izatiz rewarded her backers with a win payout of $9.20. Ken Pullen’s Blushing Belle finished second under Iram Diego, followed by Stelliot’s Legacy, who made her debut here on January 7 winning the $75,000 Darby’s Daughter for trainer Carlos Padilla. Bubbles and Bling, full sister to TTA champion Mr Money Bags ran fifth followed by Fast Track, Texas Twinkies, Sky Tizzy, More Than Shakin, Salt N Lime, Starteca, Waving Bye and Real Tap.

Second Stakes Triumph for Vietnam Victory in the $100,000 Gexa Energy Groovy Stakes

A full field of Texas-bred colts and geldings competed in the $100,000 Gexa Energy Groovy Stakes, also  run at six furlongs on the sloppy main track due to showers Saturday morning.

James Stodola’s Vietnam Victory made the most of his outside post to win his third race and second stakes tally. Trainer Bret Calhoun gave a leg up to jockey Jose Alvarez who wasted no time getting to the lead before crossing the wire in 1.11.73.

Vietnam Victory / Coady Photography

“I was glad that we drew that post on a very wet track,” commented Calhoun. “You never know how a horse will handle an off track and he’s been off a long time. We thought he was good enough.”

Bred by CJ Thoroughbreds, Vietnam Victory ($16.80) is a son of Klimt out of the Smart Strike mare Real Strike. His owner was on hand for the trophy presentation.

“I love this horse and thank Bret for picking him,” said Stodola. “I fought in Vietnam and was honored with the distinguished flying cross and was just inducted into the Texas Veterans Hall of Fame. I had some victories in Vietnam; that’s how he was named.” 

Dan W. McGough’s Lil Sweet Thang,who competed in both the Clever Trevor and Springboard Mile at Remington Park, rallied gamely for second under Reylu Gutierrez, a nose in front of Guitar Boy who shipped in from Zia Park with jockey Leandro Goncalves in the saddle. 

Texas Preview Day Set for Saturday, February 18at Sam Houston Race Park

Texas-bred Stakes action returns on Saturday, February 18 with Texas Preview Night. The five features are:

$75,000 Jim’s Orbit                                        3yo C&G- 6 Furlongs

$75,000 Two Altazano                                   3yo F- 6 Furlongs

$75,000 H-Town                                             4yo & up- 7 Furlongs

$75,000 Miss Bluebonnet Turf                       4&up F&M- 1 Mile (T)

$75,000 Houston Turf                                    4&up- 1 1/16 Miles (T)

About Sam Houston Race Park

Sam Houston Race Park is Houston’s premier racing and entertainment facility, located just 15 miles from downtown Houston. Owned by Penn Entertainment Inc., the racetrack, which opened in 1994, offers a variety of attractions including a Suite Level featuring luxurious suites overlooking the racetrack, The Pavilion Centre, and award-winning dining options at the Winner’s Circle Restaurant and theJockey Club.  For more information on upcoming live racing, shows, events and tickets, please visitwww.shrp.com.