Sam Houston Race Park hosted Texas Champions Day Saturday as part of another exciting race weekend. The nine-race card featured seven stakes races with a combined value of $700,000 in purses.
The first stakes race of the day was the Star of Texas Stakes for Texas-accredited horses 5 years old and up over a mile on the dirt course. The morning line favorite, Gold Pilot, settled off the pace, swung around the far turn, and held on to win by a neck. The win kept this son of My Golden Song perfect on the year and boosted his career win total to eight. Jose Alvarez was the winning rider, and Brett Calhoun the trainer. Dust Em finished second, with Bling’s Bellwether third.
Alvarez and Calhoun combined again in the Texas Thoroughbred Association Oaks, as Santa Fe Gold went to the front early and was too much for the others to catch. New Destiny finished well back in second, and Pivosky was third.
In the San Jacinto Turf Stakes, Texas accredited fillies and mares 4 years old and up took to the turf course and battled over a mile and a sixteenth. Imaluckycharm set the pace and held off a late-charging No Mas Tequila to earn the win. Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez rode the winner, while Karen Jacks was the winning conditioner. Tudela finished third.
Next on the card was the Spirit of Texas Stakes, a six furlong sprint on the dirt for Texas-accredited horses 4 years old and up. Too Much Action was able to make a remarkable run from just off the pace. After finding his way blocked, Leandro Goncalves guided the eventual winner to split horses and dive back inside just in time to get up for the win. Jeremiah O’Dwyer was the winning trainer. Algebra was second, with Mr Money Bags in third.
Race seven was the Yellow Rose Stakes for Texas-accredited fillies and mares 4 years old and up. The veteran legend Ima Discreet Lady stalked the pace before making her move in the stretch to pull away to her fourteenth victory in forty-five career starts. Valdez-Jiminez was once again the winning jockey while Karl Broberg picked up the win as the trainer. Lady Ave finished in second, with Heavenly Rhythm third.
Another star among Texas-bred racehorses, Sunlit Song, came on late to take the Richard King Turf Stakes in the eighth race. This one was for Texa-accredited 4-year-olds and up over a mile and an eighth. The 8-year-old son of My Golden Song won his fourth race in a row and claimed his sixteenth victory in his career. After stalking the pace early, Sunlit Song outkicked Singapore Flash in the stretch to win by a neck. Stewart Elliot picked up the win in the saddle, and Mindy Willis was the victorious trainer. Truly Danzig was third.
In the Saturday finale, 3-year-old colts that are Texas accredited or TTA sales graduates took center stage in the Texas Thoroughbred Association Derby. Release McCraken overcame traffic in the first turn and used a strong move in the late stretch to pull away for the win. Send the Boss was up for second, and Funny Uncle claimed third. Valez-Jiminez claimed another win as the jockey, and Calhoun picked up a third-stakes victory on the day as the trainer.
Next weekend Sam Houston Race Park will host live action on Saturday and Sunday, first post is at one o’clock.
In national racing news, the Road to the Kentucky Derby is becoming clearer as several key races took place across the country Saturday.
Kingsbarns went wire to wire to win the Twinspires.com Louisiana Derby (G2) at the Fair Grounds. The son of Uncle Mo led from the start and easily pulled away from all challenges and seemed to win easily. With the one hundred points awarded for the victory, Kingsbarns has assured himself a place in the gate at the Derby, and because of the ease of his win, there is no doubt that he belongs in any discussion of possible winners.
Turfway Park hosted the Jeff Ruby Steaks (G3) on the synthetic surface. Two Phils won for the first time since October to punch his ticket to the Derby. Jareth Loveberry kept this son of Hard Spun clear of any traffic and was able to pull away to win by five lengths. This race also granted a hundred points to the winner, and this dominant performance adds Two Phils to the list of strong Derby contenders.
The Road to the Kentucky Derby will continue next Saturday with stops at Gulfstream Park for the Florida Derby and Oaklawn Park for the Arkansas Derby. The Florida Derby will feature last year’s 2-year-old champion, Forte, who will look to build off his impressive win in the Fountain of Youth earlier this month.