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The Long Knife, Valiant Lil Lady Win Texas Classics

Lone Star Park closes meet with two rich stakes.

November 11, 2012

Lone Star Park closed its American Quarter Horse meet on Saturday night with the $1 million Texas Classic Futurity (G1) and $377,219 Texas Classic Derby (G1). In the richest race for any breed in the state of Texas, Byron Gardner’s Valiant Lil Lady jumped out to a big early lead and held on to win by head in a time of :19.616 for 400 yards. Cody Jensen, who earlier in the day at Will Rogers Downs won two stakes including the $418,993 Black Gold Futurity Championship (RG3), rode for trainer Judd Kearl.

Valiant Lil Lady, who was sent off as the 2-1 second favorite, posted the second-fastest qualifying time in the trials with a 2 ¼-length win. Prior to that she had won a maiden race and a trial to the Heritage Place Futurity (G1) at Remington Park before finishing eighth in the final. Her record now stands at 5-4-0-0 with earnings of $485,163, and this victory made her the first filly to win the Texas Classic Futurity. Bred in Texas by Bob and Jerry Gaston out of the Fredricksburg mare Rustys Lil Lady, Valiant Lil Lady became the 11th stakes winner sired by Valiant Hero and pushed the stallion over the $3 million mark in progeny earnings with two crops on the track. Valiant Hero, a son of First Down Dash out of Corona Chick, won the Texas Classic Futurity in 2006.

Irene Velasquez’s homebred Big Boi, an Oak Tree Special gelding ridden by G.R. Carter Jr. and trained by Verle Bohner, ran a strong race to get second and earn $216,245. JNB Enterprises LLC’s PYC Kant Katch Me, a colt by PYC Paint Your Wagon who came in undefeated in five starts, crossed the wire third. Brett Mennen’s Ronnie James, the fastest qualifier after winning his trial by four lengths, was bumped after the start and finished fifth as the 9-5 favorite.

In the Texas Classic Derby, Steve Denny’s The Long Knife scored a 29-1 upset to record his first stakes win. With Ramon Sanchez up for trainer “Sleepy” Gilbreath, The Long Knife prevailed by three-quarters of a length with a 440-yard clocking in :21.552.

This marked the biggest career win for The Long Knife, a gelding by Tac It Like A Man who finished second in last year’s Rainbow Futurity (G1) and fourth in the Texas Classic Futurity. Bred in Texas by Becklyn Farm out of the Hooked On Cash mare Oodles Of Cash, The Long Knife is the fourth stakes winner produced by the mare. The Long Knife became the seventh stakes winner sired by Grade 1 winner Tac It Like A Man.

Two more longshots completed the trifecta with Jesse Yoakum and J.T. Hooten’s Sarah Must taking second at odds of 22-1 and Texasindependencegal in third at odds of 24-1 for owner Lyne Leonard. Odds-on favorite Ochoa, American Quarter Horse racing’s all-time leading money earner, finished fifth.

Also on the card, Macedonio Lozano’s Sassmaster won the $80,459 Texas Classic Juvenile Stakes (R). Francisco Ramirez Jr. rode the TR Dasher gelding for trainer Eusevio Huitron. Sassmaster, who was bred Texas by Edward C. Allred, also won the Sam Houston Futurity (G2).