Sam Houston Race Park saluted accredited Texas-breds on the final weekend of the 2017 Thoroughbred racing season. Fillies and mares were in action Friday evening, in the first two of seven Texas Champions Weekend stakes.
It was a memorable week for trainer Bret Calhoun, who tied the knot on Sunday, March 5 with Sara Escudero and followed that up by winning both Friday night features.
Kat’s Infatuation Cruises in the $50,000 Bara Lass Stakes
Accredited Texas-bred fillies competed six furlongs this evening in the $50,000 Bara Lass. Trainer Bret Calhoun ran three fillies in the $65,000 Two Altazano here on February 18, and two returned to action tonight.
Wayne Sanders and Larry Hirsch own Kat’s Infatuation, who was a game runner-up to Archer City last month and became a stakes winner this evening. Jockey DeShawn Parker rode the Silver City filly, patiently sitting off the early pacesetters, Cat’s Kitten and Mighty Ferrari. She passed both heading into the turn, drawing off by 8 1/4 lengths in a final time of 1:11.23.
In her early races, Calhoun described Kat’s Infatuation as a “pure speed” filly, but has seen her mature and become much more versatile. Tonight, she showed an added dimension, handling a muddy track surface for the first time with no problem.
“She ran a great race,” said Calhoun, who is at Oaklawn Park this weekend. “I loved the way she sat off the pace, but put herself right into the race. You could see that she will handle the stretch-out to a mile at Lone Star.”
Calhoun’s other trainee Gold Shock, owned by Douglas Scharbauer, closed for second under Lindey Wade. The daughter of My Golden Song has picked up checks at Lone Star Park, Retama and Remington Park.
“Maybe she’s not quite as fast as some of my other fillies, but she definitely fits at this level,” added Calhoun.
Miss Photo, trained by Danny Pish, ran third under Paul Nolan with Mighty Ferrari and jockey David Cabrera completing the superfecta.
Kat’s Infatuation ($3.40) has now won three of her six career starts and added $30,000 for the stakes victory tonight. She was the third Bara Lass champion for Calhoun, who won it in 2009 with Tin Top Cat and in 2014 with Scooter’s Choice, who was also owned by Sanders and Hirsch.
More Than Most Front-Running Score in the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes
Also, on Friday the $50,000 San Jacinto Stakes for fillies and mares was taken off the Connally Turf Course, due to heavy rains earlier in the evening.
More Than Most, a 4-year-old Indygo Mountain filly, was sent off as the prohibitive favorite and lived up to her billing. Bred by the late Clarence Scharbauer and owned by his son, Douglas, the multiple-stakes winner won the mile and one-sixteenth stakes in gate-to-wire fashion under Parker. He guided the dark bay filly through the the quarter-mile in :25.44 and the half-mile in :48.65. She crossed the wire in 1:44.75, a margin of six lengths over K One Spirit.
“The surface switch was not a factor,” said Calhoun. “Maybe the only difficulty for her is soft turf, so I guess it was good that the race was run on the main track. She is definitely on form and did what we knew she could do tonight.”
Parker, who won three races on the card, had high praise for both of his stakes winners.
“Bret told me to get her out in front as she does not like the kick back,” said Parker. “She was really relaxed and had plenty left. Even though it rained hard, the track felt great; Sam Houston’s surfaces are always so good.”
Trainer Mindy Willis saddled Special Rockstar, who finished third under David Cabrera. Texas Belle ran fourth, followed by Gentle Secret, Dagny and Indygo Mountain. Pa Loli and Soul Affair were scratched when the stakes came off the turf.
This was the eighth career win for More Than Most ($2.40), who boosted her lifetime earnings to $272,464. Calhoun was unsure of her next start.
Texas Champions Weekend Stakes Schedule
Texas Champions Weekend continues on Saturday evening at 6:15 pm with two stakes: the $50,000 Groovy Stakes and $50,000 Richard King Stakes. Monday’s card includes the running of the $50,000 Groovy Stakes and the $50,000 Spirit of Texas and the final Texas Champions feature, the $50,000 Star of Texas Stakes is set for Tuesday, March 14.