A trio of Oklahoma- and Texas-bred horses hit the board in major stakes over the July 4th holiday weekend.
In the Grade 3, $300,000 Prairie Meadows Cornhusker Handicap in Iowa on July 2, reigning Oklahoma Horse of the Year Shotgun Kowboy finished a game second to Kentucky-bred Smack Smack, who also has strong Oklahoma connections. The winner runs for his breeder, country music star Toby Keith’s Dream Walkin’ Farms Inc., and is trained by leading Oklahoma trainer Don Von Hemel.
As for Oklahoma-bred Shotgun Kowboy, who was ridden by Luis Quinonez, this marked the third consecutive second-place finish against graded stakes foes for breeder, owner and trainer C.R. Trout. The gelding by Kodiak Cowboy also took the runner-up spot in the Grade 3 Lone Star Park Handicap and Grade 3 Texas Mile. He earned a graded stakes win in last year’s Grade 3 Oklahoma Derby at Remington Park, and his earnings now stand at $744,444 with a record of 14-6-4-1.
One day earlier at Prairie Meadows, Texas-bred Texas Chrome, the reigning Texas Champion 2-Year-Old Colt/Gelding, finished second to heavy favorite American Freedom in the Grade 3, $250,000 Iowa Derby. Owned by Danny Keene’s Keene Thoroughbreds LLC and ridden by Iram Diego for trainer J.R. Caldwell, Texas Chrome was coming in off a third-place effort in the Grade 3 Matt Winn Stakes at Churchill Downs. A $10,000 purchase at the Texas Summer Yearling Sale bred by Craig Upham and consigned by his and Sue Dowling’s Stoneview Farm, Texas Chrome is a four-time stakes winner with earnings of $302,462 and a record of 10-5-1-3.
At Churchill Downs on July 2, Texas-bred Country Candy, a filly by Texas stallion Intimidator who sold for $65,000 at the Texas 2-Year-Olds in Training Sale, finished a good third in the $100,000 Debutante Stakes. This was her first start since a 9 ½-length maiden-breaking debut at Lone Star Park. The filly was bred and consigned at the sale by Asmussen Horse Center, and now runs for Keene Thoroughbreds LLC and is trained by J.R. Caldwell.
“She ran very well,” said Caldwell. “She ran good in Texas and we thought a lot of her, so we brought her to the races and tested her and she showed up. That’s the biggest thing we wanted, so we’re happy. (Trainer Bret) Calhoun came up her and ran well with Texas fillies a few times, so he’s been successful at it and we thought we’d take a shot at it.
“She’s so classy – she does everything right and she’s fast from the gate. It was her first time going six furlongs and in her works she had galloped out really strong, so we thought we’d come here and give her a new stadium to play in.”