Texas Champs Square Off in Jersey Village Stakes at Sam Houston

Skip a Smile * Photo by Coady Photography

This weekend’s feature at Sam Houston Race Park is the $50,000 Jersey Village Stakes. A field of eight Texas-breds will compete in the mile and one-sixteenth turf contest on Saturday, February 23.

The Jersey Village attracted the last two Texas Horses of the Year: Skip a Smile and Coyote Legend.

Skip a Smile was honored as 2011 Texas Horse of the Year for his owner and breeder, Rose Mary Chandler. The 6-year-old son of Skip Away has won his last two turf stakes, the $50,000 Texas Horse Racing Hall of Fame at Retama Park and the $50,000 Richard King on January 19 at Sam Houston Race Park. He is trained by Steve Asmussen and will be ridden by Glen Murphy, who was aboard for his 6 ½-length victory in the Richard King.

Coyote Legend, the 2012 Texas Horse of the Year, returns to the turf for his 31st career start. Trained by Bret Calhoun and bred by his owner Clarence Scharbaurer Jr., the 6-year-old son of Gold Legend has shown versatility on both dirt and turf. He scored back-to-back titles in the $100,000 Star of Texas on the main track and Sam Houston, but has won three of his six lifetime turf starts. Roman Chapa will ride the accomplished Texas-bred, who could eclipse the $700,000 earnings mark with a victory on Saturday evening.

Spiderman Ridge and Fly the Red Eye, who finished second and third, respectively, in the Richard King, are also entered in the Jersey Village Stakes. Trainer Danny Pish will send out his homebred Quiet Acceleration, who finished sixth in the $50,000 Richard King on Texas Champions Day Weekend. He will be ridden on Saturday evening by Gerardo Mora.

Patty’s Pride has been a steady performer for the Karl Broberg barn. Owned by Brian C. Schartz, the 5-year-old daughter of Special Rate was a game runner-up in the San Jacinto Stakes on January 18 and has made 23 starts on the lawn. She will take on seven male rivals in the Jersey Village Stakes, which will run as the eighth race (9:40 p.m.) of the Saturday evening card.

Live racing gets underway at 6:30 p.m. (CT) and will also include two Arabian stakes, the Grade 2, $30,000 Texas Six-Shooter and Grade 2, $30,000 Texas Yellow Rose.

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 26 trips to the winner’s circle. Gerardo Mora, who was top rider in the Retama Park fall Thoroughbred racing season, is closing in on Murphy with 25 wins. Chris Landeros and Alfredo Sanchez Sigala are tied for third place with 12 wins and Roman Chapa is next in the standings with 11 victories. Chapa was the winning rider aboard Makeshift in the $75,000 Two Altazano last Saturday.

Danny Pish has saddled 13 winners to remain in the lead in the trainer standings following five weeks of live racing. Steve Asmussen is second with nine victories, followed by Jack Bruner with 9 wins and Brent Davidson and Karl Broberg, who are tied with eight first-place finishes.

Maxxam Gold Cup Update
Nominations close on February 20 for the $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup and the Sam Houston racing office has received interest from many nationally prominent trainers for the mile and one-eighth handicap for older horses.

One of the nominees is defending champion, Cease, a well-bred son of War Chant, who earned his first black-type win for owner Claiborne Farm and Adele B. Dilschneider in the 2012 Maxxam. Trained by Al Stall Jr., the 6-year-old went on to run third in the Grade 1, Woodford Stakes last September at Saratoga and finished sixth in the Grade 1, Clark Handicap at Churchill Downs before taking a break for the remainder of 2012.

Stall has nominated Cease and Unlatch, another Claiborne Farm homebred who won the Woodchopper Stakes over the Fair Grounds turf course on November 23. Stall is keeping his options open on both horses, but reports that defending champion Cease is progressing nicely off his layoff.

“He’s training well,” said Stall. “We might run him in an allowance at Fair Grounds this weekend, but are considering the Maxxam as well. There are a lot of moving parts at this point.”

One other notable nominee is Sabercat, a 4-year-old son of Bluegrass Cat owned by Winchell Thoroughbreds LLC and trained by Steve Asmussen. He captured the 2011 Delta Jackpot, which guaranteed him a spot in the 2012 Kentucky Derby. Sabercat, who is closing in on the $800,000 mark in career earnings, is currently in Asmussen’s barn at Sam Houston. The dark bay colt worked six furlongs in 1:12.40 on February 18 in preparation for the Maxxam. Asmussen has won two previous editions of the race, scoring with Reporting for Duty in 2008 and Z Humor in 2011.

The Maxxam Gold Cup has produced exceptional champions since its first running in 1994, including Sir Cherokee, Valhol, Student Council and Alumni Hall. The Saturday March 2 card will also include three additional stakes:  the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes, $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup and the $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes

Sam Houston Race Park will offer an All Stakes Pick 4 encompassing the $50,000 Jersey Lilly Stakes, $50,000 Sam Houston Sprint Cup, $50,000 Texas Heritage Stakes and $100,000 Maxxam Gold Cup.