JRC Callas First Wins Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge

The sport's 2014 world champion wins in wire-to-wire style Saturday at Sam Houston Race Park.

Q-Racing Journal

A sharp break from his rail post helped JRC Callas First dominate Saturday's Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge Championship. PHOTO: Coady Photography/Sandra Beck

JRC Callas First, a 6-year-old Winners Award gelding owned by Brian and Dana Stroud, led from start to finish in the $107,730 Bank of America Sam Houston Challenge Championship (G2) at Sam Houston Race Park on Saturday.

Ridden by Jerry Lee Yoakum and sent to post as the 5-2 third choice in the field of nine, JRC Callas First defeated 6-5 favorite and fastest qualifier Jessies First Down by a clear 1 1/4 lengths. In addition to earning the $49,556 winner's share of the purse to push his bankroll to $601,887 from 27 starts, JRC Callas First earned a berth in this year's 440-yard, $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1), which will be run at Los Alamitos Racecourse on October 29.

"This horse is not difficult to ride at all; I really didn't do anything but hold on," said Yoakum. "He left there like a rocket and got even faster down the racetrack."

JRC Callas First was American Quarter Horse racing's world champion in 2014. Brian Stroud, who trains the gelding, said that he was confident going into Saturday's race, even though JRC Callas First didn't post the fastest qualifying time.

"He looked like he did a couple of years ago," Stroud said. "He was a little flat in the trials, and he obviously needed that race.

"The team did a great job," added the trainer. "The grooms deserve all the credit; they work with him every day. Jerry Lee did a tremendous job, stepping on a horse he had never galloped in the morning, much less rode."

JRC Callas First was bred in Texas by J.R. Cass. The gelding has won 17 races, including six of his last seven.

Stimulus, the 2-1 second choice, finished third, 1 1/2 lengths behind the winner. Poker Chip 831, RC Me Leaving You, Ojo de Rey, Ipolito, J Bar, and Eyes Your Date completed the order of finish.

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