Houston, Texas (Thursday, February 14, 2013) – Sam Houston Race Park will host two stakes for accredited Texas-breds on Saturday, February 16. The $75,000 Jim’s Orbit and the $75,000 Two Altazano are races supported by the Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) for progeny of nominated Texas stallions.
In 2005, the TTA renamed each of the Texas Stallion Stakes races to honor a famous Texas Thoroughbred. The colts and gelding division at Sam Houston Race Park has been named for Jim’s Orbit, who won the Grade 2 Ohio Derby and started in the 1988 Kentucky Derby. The fillies division is a tribute to Two Altazano, winner of the Grade 1 Coaching Club American Oaks in 1994. The accomplished mare, owned by the late Harold V. Goodman, was inducted into the Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame in 2003.
The draw took place on Wednesday, February 13 for both stakes, which will each be contested at one mile on the main track.
The $75,000 Two Altazano Stakes will feature a field of six fillies, including Platinum Song, the winner of the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes, which took place on January 18 as part of Texas Champions Weekend at Sam Houston Race Park. She is one of three fillies in the race bred by Clarence Scharbaurer, Jr., who continues to be one of the most prominent breeders in the Lone Star State. Platinum Song, a daughter of My Golden Song, is owned by Scott Brown and trained by Danny Pish. She will be ridden on Saturday evening by Gerardo Mora.
The field also includes Tastefullyxcessive owned by Scharbaurer and trained by Bret Calhoun; Bearbottom, who will run for her breeder and owner Tom Durant and trainer Jack Bruner, and two fillies conditioned by Steve Asmussen: Esscalator and Makeshift. Esscalator won the Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park on December 8 for owner Connie Scherr and Makeshift, a son of Too Much Bling, owned and bred by Will S. Farish, broke her maiden impressively last month at Sam Houston and makes her stakes debut in the Two Altazano.
The sixth entrant in the stakes is My Golden Belle, owned by Kathy L. Stephens and trained by Dewey Smith. She is the third of the Scharbauer homebreds and will make her first start since the Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park, where she finished fourth.
“Leaving the gate, she pulled a front shoe,” said Smith. “She ran a good race, considering everything.”
Smith might be familiar to Sam Houston Race Park fans as a Quarter Horse jockey before becoming an assistant trainer to Ralph Arnold two years ago. Sadly, Arnold passed away on New Year’s Eve, but Stephens wanted his racing operation in Texas to continue. She named Smith as her trainer and he is very grateful for the opportunity.
“Ralph and Kathy have been real good to me,” stated Smith. “I think this filly will love going long, and hope she runs a good race on Saturday.”
Smith will give rider Paul Nolan a leg up in the Two Altazano, and will have Arnold in his thoughts as he saddles his first stakes entrant.
“As much as I would love to win the race, it will be tough going into the winner’s circle without Ralph,” admits Smith.
Seven colts and geldings will compete in the Jim’s Orbit with Worldventurer holding the experience edge over his rivals. The son of Wimbledon is owned by Wesley Melcher and won the $50,000 Groovy Stakes on opening weekend, drawing off by four-lengths under jockey Cliff Berry. Berry has the return call for Bret Calhoun and will be making his tenth career start on Saturday evening.
Asmussen sends out the trio of Breathethefire, who ran second in the Groovy Stakes for Littlebrother Farm LLC; Tactical Boo, owned by L.B. Jones, who broke his maiden at Sam Houston on January 26 and Pop Chart, who ran third in the Groovy Stakes for Farish. Several lightly-raced colts will try to spring the upset including Absotively, who will make just his second start for trainer Danny Pish; Meme Jo, winner of a maiden special weight on January 19 for trainer Karl Broberg and Ivan Fallunovalot, a son of leading Texas sire Valid Expectations, who won his career debut in a six-length romp on February 2 for Tom Durant and Jack Bruner.
The Two Altazano Stakes will run as the sixth race (8:46 p.m.) with the Jim’s Orbit scheduled as race 8 (9:40 p.m.). Post time for the Saturday evening card. is 6:30 p.m. (CT).
TTA Awards Banquet to Take Place Saturday at Sam Houston Race Park
The TTA Annual Awards Banquet is set for Saturday, February 16 at Sam Houston Race Park, beginning with a cocktail hour at 6:00 p.m. A dinner and Awards Banquet will follow.
There will also be a silent auction to benefit The Texas Thoroughbred Educational Fund or The Paddock Foundation. The current list of auction items includes a wide variety of books, a beautiful leather headstall and bit, a stuffed UT Longhorn Mascot, an A&M teddy bear, a TTA logo cap autographed by Pat Day, a full-page advertisement in Southern Racehorse, handmade jewelry, framed artwork and more.
Jockey and Trainer Standings
Glen Murphy continues to maintain the lead in the rider standings at Sam Houston Race Park. The 44-year-old jockey has made 23 trips to the winner’s circle. Gerardo Mora, who was top rider in the Retama Park fall Thoroughbred racing season, is second with 16 wins. He picked up his second stakes of the season on Saturday evening when he guided Manyriverstocross to victory in the $50,000 Tomball Stakes. Chris Landeros is in third place with 11 wins and Roman Chapa is fourth in the standings with nine victories.
Danny Pish has saddled 12 winners to take over the lead in the trainer standings following four weeks of live racing. There is a three-way tie for second between Steve Asmussen, Brent Davidson and Jack Bruner. Each have eight victories. Karl Broberg follows with seven wins and Bret Calhoun, who has won four stakes this meet, has with five first-place finishes.
Maxxam Gold Cup Update
Student Council, 2007 Maxxam Gold Cup champion, is producing some excellent runners. Last weekend, Sister Ginger, a three-year-old daughter of Student Council, bred in Kentucky by Millennium Farms and Littlebrother Farm LLC, was the upset winner in the Martha Washington Stakes at Oaklawn Park. The bay filly sprang the upset at 19-1 for trainer Steve Asmussen.
Student Council is owned by Millennium Farms and trained by Neil Howard. Retired in 2008, The bay son of Kingmambo was bred by Will S. Farish and amassed career earnings of $1.6 million. His most lucrative title was the Grade 1, Pacific Classic at Del Mar in 2007.
The mile and one-eighth Maxxam Gold Cup will be run on Saturday, March 2. Nominations close on Wednesday, February 20.
Promotions Continue Through the Live Thoroughbred Meet
The 2013 Thoroughbred meet continues through Sunday, March 17, with post times set for Friday (7 p.m.), Saturday (6:30 p.m.), Sunday and Monday (1 p.m.). Special events include:
- 50 Cent Beer Fridays with ESPN’s Fred Faour and A.J. Hoffman featuring 50 Cent Draft Beer and $1.50 Wine Specials every Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m.
- Sunday Brunch Special featuring $2 Mimosas & Bloody Marys and a $19.95 special brunch buffet in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant every Sunday. (First post 1:00 p.m.)
- Monday Live Racing featuring FREE Admission. (First post 1:00 p.m.)
- Dollar Day at The Park featuring $1 admission, live racing programs, hot dogs, ice cream, soda and draft beer. Free Petting Zoo. (February 16 & April 20)
- Ladies Night where ladies get in free and enjoy $2.00 wine specials (February 23)
- MAXXAM Racing Festival featuring four stakes races including the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup and more than $300,000 in purses. (March 2)
- Camel & Ostrich Races featuring the wildest entertainment of the meet (March 9)