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First Time Ta Town Takes Pfizer Sam Houston Challenge

Gelding earns a trip to Prairie Meadows with a game effort at Sam Houston.

May 12, 2012

The husband-and-wife team of Eve and Guy Hopkins had to wait for the photo finish, but they were rewarded handsomely when their homebred First Time Ta Town was declared the winner of the $21,870 Pfizer Animal Health Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge on Saturday night. Eve, with Rodney Amos' HSC Inc., bred and owns the 4-year-old son of Brimmerton out of the First Place Dash mare First Raise. This was the fourth win in a row for the sorrel gelding, who narrowly edged The Field Cricket in the 350-yard feature in a final time of :17.517 for 350 yards with regular rider Luis Ramirez in the saddle.

“Eve and Rodney raised this horse and have been partners on the dam,” said trainer Guy Hopkins. “We had some problems with him when he was two, but last year at Lone Star he finally got sound and ran really well for us. His big old kick at the end got him there. Rodney said maybe we need to go farther, but first, we’ll go to Prairie Meadows.”

This victory nearly doubled the gelding’s career earnings to $20,222 and earned him an invitation to compete in the $75,000 Pfizer Animal Health Starter Allowance Challenge Championship to be run October 27 at Prairie Meadows in Iowa.

The Field Cricket came into the race after facing tough company on April 14 in the $100,620 Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge (G1) in which he finished a solid fourth. This time out, he was second by a nose for trainer Jesse Yoakum and owner Claud R. Denson.

“He ran a really good race,” said rider Jerry Lee Yoakum. “We just got outrun, but he was game.”

First Time Ta Town paid $6.20 for the win, earning a speed index of 101. Jolene McCord’s homebred Cougar Hendricks, a 7-year-old gelding who has now hit the board in 25 of 42 starts, ran third, followed by Oh My Gol Sis, Tooty Fruity Fish, Zoom Lightning, Kiss This Vision, La Esterlina, First Down Teller, Flash Dashin and Roho Go Jo Lema.