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Sweet Oblivion, DW Runaway B Win Sam Houston Challenge Races

Both horses earn berths to compete in Bank of America Challenge Championships at Los Alamitos.

May 4, 2013

A talented field of fillies and mares competed in Friday’s feature at Sam Houston Race Park, the $27,540 Merial Sam Houston Distaff Challenge.

Sweet Oblivion, a well-bred daughter of Mr Jess Perry, continues to show her versatility and commanding running style at Sam Houston. Owned and bred by Joe Kirk Fulton, the speedy gray filly set a new 300-yard track record of :15.101 last year at the Houston track. Then she ran second in the Silestone Stakes at Sam Houston on April 8, which set her up nicely for this stakes victory.

With regular rider Jose Alvarez aboard, the 4-year-old mare bobbled coming out of the gate but rallied gamely for the win, covering 400 yards in :20.204.

“She kind of scared me, stumbling at the start,” said her trainer, Mike Robbins. “This mare always gives 100% and does not have any quit to her. She does her best running at 350 and 400 yards and loves this racetrack.”

Bertha Venation, who was last year’s Merial Distaff runner-up, had to settle for second again. The 6-year-old daughter of Corona Caliente is owned by Jose Luis Salazar and trained by Erika Huitron. She has won nine of her 24 starts, including the $41,760 Merial Lone Star Distaff Challenge last September at Lone Star Park.

“Unfortunately, she didn’t break the way she usually does,” said jockey Santos Carrizales. “But she was running at the end.”

Sweet Oblivion was sent off at even-money odds and returned $4.20 for the win. She improved her career record to five wins from 11 starts with three of those wins at Sam Houston. Bertha Venation was second by a neck, followed by Baby Wave from the barn of Judd Kearl, and Sarah Must, who holds the 350-yard track record at Sam Houston.

Sweet Oblivion’s victory earned her a berth in the $125,000 Merial Distaff Challenge Championship (G1) at Los Alamitos on November 9.

DW Runaway B Wins the $24,120 Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Challenge Allowance Challenge
Trials were run on April 13 for the 350-yard Zoetis Sam Houston Starter Allowance Challenge, and DW Runaway B won the second trial by a neck, recording the fastest qualifying time of :17.935. The final was to have been contested last Saturday, but Sam Houston was forced to cancel its entire card due to heavy storms in the greater Houston area.

The extra six days had no effect on the 4-year-old Ocean Runaway gelding, who powered home from his far outside under jockey Luis Vivanco. He passed early leader Freddies Crash, crossing the wire in :17.887 as the post-time favorite.

This was the fourth win from 15 starts for Dw Runaway B, who is owned by Robert Guzman and trained by Manuel Vega Jr.

His connections drew post position 10 for the final, but the race was redrawn after last Saturday’s cancellation. Fortunately, they drew the far outside post once again.

“We always knew he was better on the outside and liked his post position,” said Guzman. “We were worried he wouldn’t make it back as strong as he ran in trials, but he ran great. Our plan is to go to Los Alamitos.”

DW Runaway B paid $4.40 for the win, earning a speed index of 87. Longshot Reinin Fire edged Freddie Crash for second, and Ocean Bank completed the superfecta.

Guzman indicated that the winner will ship to California to compete the $75,000 Zoetis Starter Allowance Challenge Championship on November 9.