Kool Country Man Tops Houston Challenge Trials

Gelding earns chance to defend his title in six-figure final at Sam Houston.

April 5, 2013

Defending Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge winner Kool Country Man raced to the top qualifying time on Friday night during two trials for the 2013 edition of the Grade 1 race at Sam Houston Race Park.

The 10 fastest qualifiers will return Saturday, April 20, to vie for the winner's share of a $100,000-added purse and a qualifying spot in the $350,000 Bank of America Challenge Championship (G1) this fall at Los Alamitos Race Course.

Under jockey Luis Vivanco, Kool Country Man broke on top and extended his lead to three-quarters over fellow qualifier This Cartel Is Cold in the first trial. His :21.766 time, a 99 speed index, was the top mark set over the 440-yard distance.

Last year’s Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge winner got his seventh career win in 25 starts. The $2,400 trial winner's purse boosted his lifetime total to more than $163,600. Jonathan Castaneda trains the 5-year-old gelded son of Country Chicks Man for the partnership of Jose Socorro Vera Jr. and Juan Manuel G. Barbosa.

Bred in Texas by Bob Gaston and Ramiro Lopez, the gelding is out of the First Down Dash mare First Kool Baby. The mare also produced the night's 10th-fastest qualifier, Jessa Kool Perry by Mr Jess Perry.

After getting bumped at the start, Tommy Hays and Bobby Barnett's Runaway Wagon put in a strong drive to win the second trial by 1 ¾ lengths while posting the second-fastest time of :21.809, also a 99 speed index.

Bobby Martinez conditions the stakes-winning PYC Paint Your Wagon 4-year-old who scored his fourth win in 12 starts and pushed his earnings to $92,793. Last season's Firecracker Derby winner was ridden by David Alvarez.

Michelle Meiwes bred Runaway Wagon in Kansas from the Dashin Bye mare Dashin Vike.

The aforementioned This Cartel Is Cold finished with the third-fastest time of :21.892. The lightly raced 4-year-old son of Corona Cartel has a 3-3-0 record in nine starts. He came into the race off a daylight allowance win at Louisiana Downs for owner Alejandro Moya and trainer Erasmo Hernandez.

The owner/trainer combination also qualified another 4-year-old half brother Feature This Cold by Feature Mr Jess to the final. Both horses are out of the Grade 1-winning This Snow Is Royal mare This Snow Is Cold, an earner of $522,915.

Trainer Juan Saucedo was the only other trainer with multiple finalists, getting Nowurtalkin in with the seventh-fastest time and The Scotch Is Dun in with the eighth-fastest time.

For the complete list of Bank of America Sam Houston Championship Challenge finalists, times, sires, dams, owners, breeders, trainers and jockeys, CLICK HERE.