Challenge Doubleheader in Houston

Sam Houston hosts Championship Challenge, Distance Challenge.

Q-Racing Journal
April 10, 2014

Circle T Ranch’s Sixes Straw and Kathleen Matey’s homebred Pyro upset the two trials to the $100,000 Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge (G2) with the top-two qualifying times and they lead an AQHA Racing Challenge doubleheader at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday night.

Supporting the 440-yard Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge in the $24,120 Red Cell Sam Houston Distance Challenge.

The winners of these races will earn a starting berth in their respective stakes during the Bank of America Challenge Championships on October 17-18 at Prairie Meadows.

Circle T Ranch’s Sixes Straw (First Down Dash-Silk Perry Straw by Mr Jess Perry) scored his first win since taking a $25,000 optional-claiming race back in October, 2012, at Zia Park in his Challenge trial. He was overlooked at 26-1 odds in his Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge trial and then surprised with a battling neck win over Runaway Wagon in the second trial. He was timed in :21.883 while battling a headwind.

Pyro (Make It Anywhere-Rare Kayoh by Rare Form) came through with his first win since his 2012 Rainbow Futurity trial when he scored by a neck over even-money favorite The Sunday Assassin (FDD Dynasty-Oh Dusty Bunny by Oh Shiney). Pyro stopped the timer in :21.855. The Judd Kearl-trained Pyro was second to A Dream To Remember in their 2013 Ruidoso Derby (G1) trial and qualified for the derby.

Francisco Rios’ The Sunday Assassin earned his trial favoritism after finishing a close second behind world champion Cold Cash 123 in last spring’s $101,340 Bank of America Remington Park Challenge (G2). The Sunday Assassin raced to the fourth-fastest time of :21.876.

Tommy Hays and Bobby Barnett’s Runaway Wagon (PYC Paint Your Wagon-Dashin Vike by Dashin Bye) bobbled at the start of his Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge trial and then rallied to get within a neck of Sixes Straw with the third-fastest time of :21.874. The Bobby Martinez-trained 5-year-old won the 2012 $144,000 Firecracker Derby and last year’s $50,000 Sam Houston Classic (G2).

In the 870-yard Sam Houston Distance Challenge, Joe and Elaine McAnnaly’s homebred Dashers Midnight (Some Dasher-Sheza Moon Bar Baby by Heza Fast Man) tries to make a return trip to the $100,000 Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship (G1) after finishing second behind champion Honoroso in last year’s running at Los Alamitos. The 7-year-old gelding made a late bid before coming up a neck short at the finish. He will be making his first start since that race on Saturday night.

Last year, the James Gerhards-trained Dashers Midnight won the $15,000 University City Handicap by 1 1/2 lengths and raced to second-place finishes in the Red Cell Sam Houston Distance Challenge, San Marcos Handicap and the Governor’s Cup Marathon. All of those races were at 870 yards.

Ned Ellsworth’s homebred War Khal (Jess Louisiana Blue-Royal Rively (TB) by Midnight Royalty) was fourth in the Red Cell Distance Challenge Championship and also returns from a winter’s rest. The Mike Robbins-trained War Khal was placed first through a disqualification in the $21,000 Red Cell Turf Paradise Distance Challenge two starts ago.

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