Sam Houston Closes with Challenge Stakes

The Cat In The Hat, Tejas Energy B Earn Trips to Los Alamitos.

May 18, 2013

Sam Houston Race Park's American Quarter Horse meet concluded on Saturday with an excellent card featuring two Bank of America Racing Challenge stakes races. Fastest qualifiers dominated in both the $75,690 John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge (G3) and the $59,950 Adequan Sam Hoston Derby Challenge.

In Dr. Seuss’ classic children’s book, The Cat in the Hat, a big cat wearing a candy-striped hat stirs up total chaos. At Sam Houston, The Kat In The Hat was calm, cool and collected as he captured the $75,690 John Deere Sam Houston Juvenile Challenge.

The trials on May 2 took place on one of the coldest nights in the meet, with temperatures dipping into the high 40s and winds clocked at 25 mph. The finalists were rewarded today with sunny skies and a fast track.

Owner and trainer Jose R. Espinosa of Mission, Texas, was delighted with the performance of The Kat In The Hat, who did not disappoint as the fastest qualifier in the final.

Espinosa purchased the son of Red Oak Special at the TQHA Yearling Sale for $4,000. He has now won two of his three starts and earned $34,818 for his latest victory.

“We had a brother to him and saw him in the sale book and knew we had to have him,” said Espinosa. “The horse came out of his trial perfectly. He did everything we asked, and we could not have asked for him to run a better race in the final.”

The Kat In The Hat was bred in Texas by Sherrie Morace and was ridden to victory in the 350-yard final by Cipriano Vidana, closing gamely in a time of :17.989.

“His dam is just awesome, and Red Oak Special is the most calm, wonderful stud,” said Morace. “It’s so exciting.”

Sent off as the second betting choice, The Kat In The Hat paid $7.60 for the win. Ninth-fastest qualifier Isit Red ran second under Jose Sandoval, and Cristata, who recorded the second-fastest qualifying time, was third. Jodys Pop A Top completed the superfecta.

Espinosa reported that The Kat In The Hat will run in the TQHA Sale Futurity (RG2) at Retama Park and the Gillespie County Fair Futurity before representing Texas in the $150,000 John Deere Juvenile Challenge Championship (G2) at Los Alamitos Race Course on November 9.

Tejas Energy B Remains Undefeated at Sam Houston with a Victory in the $59,850 Adequan Sam Houston Derby Challenge
Tejas Energy B is making the most of his 3-year-old campaign. He made his 2013 debut at Sam Houston Race Park on April 4 by setting a new track record of :15.006 in a 300-yard maiden race. One month later, he returned to action, and was the fastest qualifier in four trials contested for the $59,850 Adequan Sam Houston Challenge.

The Tres Seis colt, owned by Antonio Delgado Jr., kept his winning streak intact this afternoon, breaking cleanly and winning the 400-yard final easily in :20.145.

Sam Houston’s leading rider Luis Vivanco guided the sorrel colt for trainer Manuel Vega Jr. Bred in Texas by Bielau Oaks, Tejas Energy B earned $27,531 for the victory.

"This has been a dream come true," said Vega. "We had a little scare as he stood in the gates, but once he got out, he did his job. He’s been an excellent horse to train.”

Vega gelded Tejas Energy B and notes that he has been a much more focused 3-year-old. His nickname in the barn is “The Rock."

Vega's grandfather was a trainer and abided by the theory that "you make the horse from the inside out.” His grandson is now devoting himself to training Quarter Horses after a 38-year career as a college administrator.

Sent off as the heavy favorite, Tejas Energy B returned $3.20 for the win. Dash Master Jess won his trial in :19.992 to record the second-fastest qualifying time and finished second today under Manuel Gutierrez. First Royal Classic rallied for third and Ivory Owl ran fourth.

Tejas Energy B earned a berth into the $200,000 Adequan Derby Challenge Championship (G2) at Los Alamitos Race Course on November 9.