The Texas Thoroughbred Association has announced the 2014 Texas Champions and named Fiftyshadesofgold as the Texas Horse of the Year as well as Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Filly. The winners were determined by a points system based on performances in stakes races and will be honored by the TTA on June 20 at Lone Star Park near Dallas.
Bred by the late Clarence Scharbauer Jr. and owned by his son Douglas, Fiftyshadesofgold was one of the top fillies in the country last year after taking the Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Filly title in 2013. The Bret Calhoun trainee kicked off her 2014 campaign in the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes Series, which was renamed to honor Scharbauer’s contributions to the Texas racing and breeding industry. Fiftyshadesofgold took the Two Altazano division with ease, and then moved into open company where she finished second to eventual Eclipse Award winner Untapable in the Grade 2 Fair Grounds Oaks. The Texas-bred went on to capture the Grade 3 Eight Belles Stakes at Churchill Downs and ran a good fourth in two Grade 1 races, the Test Stakes at Saratoga and the TVG Acorn Stakes at Belmont Park. She earned $322,731 for the year and retired from racing in September with a career bankroll of $420,521. She will begin her career as a broodmare with a visit to leading sire Tapit.
Fiftyshadesofgold’s sire is My Golden Song, who stands at Valor Farm, a longtime leading stallion station near Pilot Point, Texas, started by the elder Scharbauer. Hadif Cat, a daughter of former Valor Farm stallion Hadif and the dam of Fiftyshadesofgold, will be honored as the Texas Champion Broodmare, and the Estate of Clarence Scharbauer Jr. will get the award as the leading accredited Texas-bred money earner.
Progeny of Valor Farm stallions also swept the juvenile category as Promise Me Silver, by Silver City, was named Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Filly, and W V Jetsetter, by Jet Phone, was named Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding.
Promise Me Silver, bred and owned by Myrna and Robert Luttrell and also trained by Calhoun, was undefeated in four starts last year, including wins in the Debutante Stakes at Churchill Downs, Darby’s Daughter division of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama Park and the Letellier Memorial Stakes at Fair Grounds. She kicked off her 3-year-old campaign with another stakes win in the Dixie Belle Stakes on January 15 at Oaklawn Park.
W V Jetsetter won the TTA Sales Futurity at Lone Star Park and My Dandy division of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes at Retama and also finished third in the Grade 2 Toyota Saratoga Special Stakes at Saratoga. Bred by Clarence Scharbauer Jr., the colt first ran for owner Wesley Melcher and trainer Bret Calhoun and then for R.A. Hill Stable and Reeves Thoroughbred Racing and trainer George Weaver.
Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding honors went to Johnny Evans and Terry Eoff’s F J Uncle Vic. The son of Uncle Abbie of Key Ranch near Salado, Texas, won the Allen’s Landing Stakes against open company at Sam Houston by nearly 10 lengths to start the year and went on to finish second in two editions of the Clarence Scharbauer Jr. Texas Stallion Stakes. The colt, who is trained by co-owner Eoff, also finished third in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap. He kicked off his 4-year-old season with a win in the Star of Texas Stakes at Sam Houston on January 17.
The awards for older horses featured a repeat winner in each category, as Lasting Bubbles defended her crown as Texas Champion Older Filly/Mare and Ol Winedrinker Who earned the title of Texas Champion Older Horse.
Lasting Bubbles, bred and owned by Judy Peek and trained by her son Kevin Peek, won five races and was third four times in 10 starts last year while earning nearly $200,000. The now 7-year-old daughter of Pulling Punches won the Yellow Rose Stakes at Sam Houston, Wayne Hanks Memorial Stakes and Valor Farm Stakes at Lone Star and Zia Park Distaff in New Mexico. She has hit the board in 21 of 28 career starts with earnings of $368,418.
Ol Winedrinker Who became a three-time champion by winning the Ruidoso Downs Thoroughbred Championship and San Juan County Commissioners Handicap and placing in three other stakes. Bred and owned by Sam and Sammy Stevens, the Sligo Bay (Ire) gelding was the Texas Champion 3-Year-Old Colt/Gelding in 2012 and Texas Champion Older Horse last year. The Joel Marr trainee is closing in on $500,000 in lifetime earnings.
The award for Texas Champion Claimer will be announced in March after an online vote among the top Texas-bred claiming horses that ran in the Lone Star State last year.