Surprise Ending Sets Track Record in Merial Challenge

Mare establishes new 400-yard standard at Sam Houston Race Park.

May 13, 2012

Sam Houston Race Park's feature race on Mother's Day, the $28,800 Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge, was a fitting tribute to fillies and mares. A talented field of 11 competed in the 400-yard stakes, and Surprise Ending not only finished with tenacity but set a track record in her first stakes win.

The 6-year-old daughter of Royal Quick Dash was dominant for trainer Bobby Touchet and rider Jesse J. Chavis, covering the distance in :19.392 while winning by a length and besting the record of : 19.574 set in the 2004 Sam Houston Futurity (G1) by Azoom.

This was the first Challenge stakes win for jockey Chavis, who grew up in Utah. The rider said he was pleased to get the mount for winning owner Glen Wilkinson.

“It’s a little different here, but I am enjoying the heat and the great track conditions,” said Chavis. “Mr. Touchet had her set up perfectly for this race. I can’t take much credit for it; he had the mare ready."

This was just the third victory for Surprise Ending, who was making her 27th career start. The mare had not raced since last November at Evangeline Downs, where she finished second in an allowance/optional claiming event. Her record now stands at 27-3-7-3 with a bankroll of $58,813.

Bred in Arkansas by Corner K Quarter Horses LLC, Surprise Ending is out of the Casady Casanova mare Sinful Shenanigans, who has produced 12 winners from as many starters, including two stakes winners and two stakes-placed runners.

“Bobby Touchet and our jockey made all the difference,” said Wilkinson. “I’m kind of speechless; it’s a great honor, but I have to give credit to my wife, Debbie, who picked this mare out at the Heritage Place Sale.”

Jose Luis Salazar’s Bertha Venation, the highest earner in the field, ran second under Sam Houston’s leading rider Rodrigo Vallejo. Painted Sable, a daughter of PYC Paint Your Wagon owned by Dr. Tommy Hays and Bobby Barnett, ran third. Unknown Source, JJ Mighty Warrior, Outside Da Box, Im Dee First, BT A Streakin Corona, Special Awards and Red Heels completed the order of finish. Hiclass Madam was scratched prior to the start of the race.

Surprise Ending was sent off as the third betting choice and returned $13.00 for the win. This victory earned her a berth in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Prairie Meadows on October 27.

Sam Houston Race Park's 2012 live American Quarter Horse meet heads into its final week with racing set for Thursday and Friday at 7:00 p.m. The 2012 Quarter Horse meet will conclude on Saturday, May 19, with an afternoon post time beginning at 1:00 p.m. so that racing fans can enjoy live racing coupled with the simulcast of the 137th Preakness Stakes.