Mr Money Bags, Cowgirls Like Us prevail in Sam Houston Race Park features
Dramatic distractions weren’t nearly enough to keep Mr Money Bags and Cowgirls Like Us from winning Sam Houston Race Park’s pair of $65,000 feature races Saturday night.
Mr Money Bags faced the bigger obstacle. Shortly before the Jim’s Orbit Stakes, Mr Money Bags’ rider was withdrawn from the race. SHRP officials offered no explanation.
Trainer Mike Neatherlin checked the track’s jockey standings.
Twenty minutes before the start, he chose Ernesto Valdez-Jiminez as the replacement.
Valdez-Jiminez accepted the ride with a smile. His smile grew after he won with no challengers in sight.
“This is the best horse I’ve ridden,” he said afterward. “You sit on his back, and he feels like a champion under you. He was doing everything by himself. All I did was hold on.”
The sparkling time — 1 minute, 10.86 seconds for six furlongs — was essentially achieved under a gentle hand ride.
Mr Money Bags, a 3-year-old gelding, will move to New Mexico’s Sunland Park for next month’s Sunland Derby.
“If he does well there,” Neatherlin said, “I plan to take him to Louisville for the Kentucky Derby.”
About 15 minutes before the Two Altazano Stakes, Cowgirls Like Us also experienced a distraction. Stillplay, the filly next to her, began to misbehave. After several head jerks, she broke free from a handler. She reared, lost balance and fell on her back. She arose, showing no sign of injury. Still, she was scratched from the race.
Although right next to the unruly filly, Cowgirls Like Us ignored the ruckus.
When the Two Altazano started, she remained composed. Jockey Deshawn Parker placed her near the front, in hand.
With about 400 yards to go, she overcame the sturdy challenge of Golden Lullaby and claimed the win.
Trainer Bret Calhoun had asked Parker to get the filly away from the starting gate quickly. She had stumbled in her most recent race and lost all chance to win.
“After starting well, she did most of this race on her own,” Parker said. “She’s easy to ride.”
The filly’s eighth race and fourth win marked Parker’s first chance to be aboard.
“I hope I get to do that again,” Parker said.