HOUSTON, TX- Texas Champions Day has been one of the most anticipated days of the annual Thoroughbred season since Sam Houston Race Park opened in 1994. The 2022 edition, set for Saturday, March 26, will shine the spotlight on the resurgence of Texas racing, showcasing the best thoroughbreds in the Lone Star State.
Purses for the seven features were increased to $100,000 in 2021 and will remain at this level again. Excellent weather is forecasted for Saturday and competitive fields have been drawn for each of the Texas Champions Day stakes. The 10-race card will get underway at 5:55 pm (CT).
Singapore Flash Eyes Third Turf Victory This Season in the $100,000 Richard King
Stakes action will get underway in the second race with seven turf specialists in the $100,000 Richard King Stakes for 4-year-olds and upward at a mile and one-eighth on the Connally Turf Course.
Triple V Racing LLC’s Singapore Flash, who was the runner-up in the 2021 Richard King, has rocketed into prominence this season on the Sam Houston turf. The 6-year-old gelded son of Shanghai Bobby began the year with a solid allowance victory on January 20 for trainer J.R. Caldwell and jockey Lane Luzzi. He returned in the $75,000 Houston Turf here on February 19, defeating 2021 Texas Thoroughbred Association (TTA) Champion Older Horse Sunlit Song by a neck. His victory gave rising star Luzzi his first Sam Houston stakes score and was also very emotional for Caldwell.
“What a great finish with both horses laying it down the lane,” said Caldwell. “My horse ran an awesome race, but to beat a champion like Sunlit Song was an awesome feat. I am appreciative of my owners buying Singapore Flash and letting me run him here.”
Claimed for $40,000 last July at Colonial Downs, Singapore Flash has has never finished off the board at Sam Houston Race Park, and with the Houston Turf victory, has now won seven of his 22 starts and $217,875. He will break from post position six at odds of 2-5.
“He came out of that race in great shape,” added Caldwell, who will also saddle Lethal Move for Farmers Fillies Racing. “Singapore Flash really likes the Houston turf course and five weeks between the two stakes allows him to settle in. We’re taking a shot with Lethal Move and might be able to run 1-2!”
Their rivals include Moojab Jr owned by John L. Pierce, who won the 2021 Houston Turf for trainer Paul Duhon and rider Iram Diego. The 8-year-old son of Moojab has won ten of his 44 career efforts and tops Singapore Flash in earnings with $290,671 banked to date. Stans Hookin Bull, who ran third in the Houston Turf, will break from the rail under Leandro Goncalves. Trained by Karen Jacks, the 4-year-old colt, sired by Lookin at Lucky, was a turf allowance winner at Sam Houston Race Park last March for owners Diamond W Racing Stable and Desra Schlansky.
Mr Money Bags The One to Beat in the $100,000 Spirit of Texas
Mr Money Bags
Accredited Texas-bred colts and geldings will take to the main track in the six furlong $100,000 Spirit of Texas Stakes.
Erma Cobb’s Mr Money Bags returns off a 2 ¾ length victory in last month’s $75,000 H-Town Stakes. Bred
by her late husband, Roy Wayne Cobb, the 6-year-old Silver City gelding was named 2019 TTA Horse of the Year and is a true “horse for the course” at Sam Houston Race Park. He will make his 26th career start Saturday evening in pursuit of his tenth stakes victory. The striking gray has won stakes for the past four years, beginning with the 2019 Jim’s Orbit and Groovy Stakes here and has earned $631,776 in his noted career.
HeLast year, both Mr. Cobb and Mr Money Bags trainer Mike Neatherlin passed away, which was tragic for the Texas racing community. Thankfully, Mrs. Cobb retained ownership of the accomplished runner and named Neatherlin’s daughter Jaylan Clary as trainer. Jockey Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez returns on the 1-2 morning line favorite. Well-regarded as a sprinter, Mr Money Bags also delivered at seven furlongs in the H-Town.
“Even though my horse likes to go to the lead, I did not need to push him early,” said Valdez-Jiminez. “I knew he had plenty left. He is the best horse I have ever ridden!”
The tears flowed for Mrs. Cobb following his February 19 stakes victory as she spoke about how much her late husband adored Mr Money Bags.
“Roy was definitely a horse person and loved coming to the races and watching them run,” she explained. “He had so many offers to sell Mr Money Bags but turned them all down. He loved Mr Money Bags; we all do.”
Carbon Stryker, who has been competing at Delta Downs most recently for trainer Karl Broberg, merits consideration in the Spirit of Texas. The 4-year-old Crossbow gelding won the 2021 My Dandy here under jockey Ry Eikleberry, who has the return call at odds of 5-1. Owned by Zachary Roush, Carbon Stryker will make his 21st career start with a record of four wins, seven seconds and three third-place finishes.
Caldwell and Farmer Fillies Racing team up with He’s a Suitor, a 5-year-old son of Hat Trick (JPN). Jockey Stewart Elliott will pilot the gelding, who exits a turf claiming win here on February 22.
“Hats off to the great Texas champion Mr Money Bags,” said Caldwell. “It would be an honor to run second to him!”
The Spirit of Texas is carded as the third race of the evening with an approximate post time of 6:55 pm.
Undefeated Chief Brady Takes on Seven Rivals in the $100,000 Groovy Stakes
The $100,000 Groovy Stakes, which will run as the fourth race on the program, features a field of 3-year-old colts and geldings squaring off at the distance of six furlongs.
Southwestern Racing LLC’s Chief Brady broke his maiden impressively at Sam Houston Race Park on January 15 and stepped up to the stakes level with confidence one month later in the $75,000 Jim’s Orbit. Jockey Jansen Melancon guided the chestnut son of Bradester before finding an opening on the rail and drawing off to a three-length victory. His final time, over the fast main track, was 1:12.20.
Melancon will guide the talented gelding out of the Mr. Nightlinger mare Indian Minnie for trainer Mindy Willis.
“This horse continues to impress me,” said Melancon. “In the Jim’s Orbit, I saw the rail open and took the opportunity. It’s a great feeling when you really get along well with a horse. He worked super for his return on Saturday. I feel really good about his chances!”
Luckys Special drew the far outside post as he makes his stakes debut for breeder and owner Victoria Lynn Heine. The gelding by Special Rate broke his maiden in his January 22 debut at Sam Houston Race Park with two additional placings at the $50,000 allowance level. Trainer Michael Whitelaw sticks with rider Weston Hamilton.
Hall of Fame conditioner Steve Asmussen, who has won 13 leading trainer titles at Sam Houston, has entered Take A Limo. The My Golden Song gelding, bred and owned by Macassar Corporation, steps up to stakes competition off a impressive debut win on February 19. Last year’s leading rider Stewart Elliott, who is in a close battle this season with Ry Eikleberry, has the call. Asmussen also trains Brant Shafer’s homebred Ironical, a son of Too Much Bling who makes his third career start. This would be the fourth Groovy Stakes victory for Asmussen, who won with Balkan (2001); Roundabout Jones (2003) and Expect Will in 2004.
Caldwell looks to have a strong contender with Highlander Training Center’s Legally Lethal. The son of 2011 Florida Derby (G1) champion Dialed In broke his maiden in gate-to-wire fashion here on March 11 with Lane Luzzi aboard.
An advance for the $100,00 San Jacinto Turf Stakes, $100,000 Yellow Rose Stakes, $100,000 Bara Lass and $100,000 Star of Texas will be sent tomorrow.
In addition to the exciting live racing card, the following promotions and special events will take place throughout the evening. Here is a listing of the events planned on Saturday, March 26:
Racehorse Ownership Seminar Set for Texas Champions Day
If you have ever thought about owning a racehorse, consider attending an owner preview event at Sam Houston Race Park on Texas Champions Day. The event has been scheduled by the Texas Thoroughbred Association in conjunction with the Own & Race a Texas Thoroughbred group on Saturday, March 26 at 5:30 pm. Learn all about owning and racing a Texas Thoroughbred with insights from Fred Faour, Corey Johnsen and trainers Danny Pish and Austin Gustafson. There is no charge to attend the event, which is held on the Sam Houston Race Park suite level, but attendees must register in advance at TXRaceHorse.com.
Texas Champions Day Dining
Sam Houston Race Park will also offer Texas Champions Day Buffet in the Winner’s Circle Restaurant for $19.95 per person. Reservations are required by calling: 281-807-8760.
Texas Champions Day Wagers and Mandatory Payouts
There will be plenty of wagering opportunities for horseplayers on the Texas Champions card. Two Pick 4 wagers will be offered and mandatory payouts will be in effect for the early Pick 5, late Pick 5 and Space City Pick 6, which begins in race five.
For tickets and dining reservations for Texas Champions Day visit www.shrp.com.