Texas Pride on Display on the Houston Racing Festival Card

HOUSTON, TX-  Sam Houston Race Park hosted another excellent edition of its annual Houston Racing Festival program on Saturday, January 27. Two features for accredited Texas-breds kicked off the card with impressive performances in both the $75,000 Bara Lass and the $75,000 Gexa Groovy

Tiz Considered Goes Gate-to-Wire in the $75,000 Gexa Groovy

Stakes action on Saturday afternoon got underway with the running of the $75,000 Gexa Groovy and morning line favorite is Michael and Linda Mazoch’s Tiz Considered stepped up to the stakes level with a convincing performance at the distance of six furlongs. A debut winner here on January 5, the son of Jimmy Creed by the Tiznow mare It Was Considered is trained by Austin Gustafson. Jockey Freddy Manrrique guided the uniquely marked dark brown colt with a white face and tail, to the lead over the main track, listed as good due to heavy rainfall throughout the week. He was tested by Victory For Vets but finished confidently by 2 ½ lengths in 1:13.30.

“From the first time I worked this horse last October, I knew he was special,” said Manrrique. “Austin and his crew have done an amazing job with him,”

Gustafson was confident that his charge was ready for the step up to the stakes level following his performance here on opening night.

“We are unbelievably proud of his performance today,” he stated. “Freddy rode him so well and when he got out, I knew they would have to run to beat us. He showed me he can get two turns in the future.”

James Stodola’s Victory For Vets trained by Bret Calhoun, completed the exacta under rider Jose Alvarez Calhoun and Stodola teamed up last year in the Gexa Groovy with Vietnam Victory. Stodola proudly names his horses in tribute to his service in Vietnam.  He was honored with the distinguished flying cross and inducted into the Texas Veterans Hall of Fame last year. 

Mister Monte Carlo completed the trifecta with rider Reylu Gutierrez in the saddle, followed by Turn North, My Buddy Mel, Foo Flighter and Ripster.

The stakes is named after one of the top Texas-bred Thoroughbreds who earned over $1.3 million in his career.  Groovy was the son of Norcliffe and owned by Prestonwood Farm. He was honored with the Eclipse Award in 1987 as champion sprinter inducted into the Texas Thoroughbred Association Hall of Fame in 2001

Too Much Kiki Earns Her Second Stakes Win of the Year in the $75,000 Bara Lass

A full field of Texas-bred fillies put on a great show in the $75,000 Bara Lass, but there was no denying heavy favorite Too Much Kiki, who was flawless once again for owner Mansfield Racing and trainer Bret Calhoun.  The daughter of Too Much Bling out of the Action This Day mare, Soft Music was bred by Danele Durham and was the sales topper at the 2022 Texas Summer Yearling Sale.

Fernando Jara was her pilot in the Darby’s Daughter here on January 6, and once again, she sat off the pace and made a decisive closing run over the good main track. She crossed the wire of the six furlong feature in 1.13.10, by a margin of 5 ¾ lengths.

“She’s a game filly,” said Jara. “She has a long stride and knew what she had to do.”

Calhoun and owner Landon Jordan, and his daughter Kiki, were in the winner’s circle to accept the trophy.

“Too Much Kiki is a very consistent and competitive filly,” stated Calhoun. “She doesn’t do to much in the mornings; pretty much trains by herself, but when it comes to her races, she just gives another gear.” 

Calhoun completed the trifecta with Successfulpath,who ran third in the Darby’s Daughter for owners Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch and  Speak Softly, a four-length debut winner here on opening night. The filly by Mr Speaker is owned by Collinsworth Thoroughbred Racing LLC.

“Successfulpath broke her maiden first time out,” said Calhoun. “We lost a little momentum with her, but she’s coming back. Speak Softly ran a good race; she probably will appreciate the turf. But it was nice to get her stakes-placed today.”

Too Much Kiki ($4.00), has won four of her five starts raising her career bankroll to $166,500. 

Texas Moon finished fourth, followed by Cajun Doll, Blue HeavenlyBringonthebubly, Honest and Too Much Guitar. City Ghost was an early scratch.

This feature was named in honor of Bara Lass, a daughter of Barachois, who was bred in Texas by Sam E. Stevens. She won 17 of her 60 starts in her career, including the 1984 Santa Monica Handicap(G3) and Barbara Fritchie Handicap(G3) before retiring with career earnings of $542,362. Throughout most of her career, the talented Texas-bred mare was trained by legendary Hall of Famer D. Wayne Lukas.

Texas Preview Day Set for Saturday, February 17

The next major Thoroughbred Stakes day at Sam Houston Race Park is Texas Preview Day on Saturday, February 17.  The event serves as important preparation for Texas Champions Day, which will take place on Saturday, March 23.  The  Texas Preview Day stakes are as follows:

Saturday, February 17                                 Texas Preview Day for Texas-breds

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

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

$75,000 David E. Hooper                               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)