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Countdown to the MBNA America Challenge Championships at Sam Hous ton Race Park


October 28, 2004     E-mail this page to a friend!

SAM HOUSTON RACE PARK (Wednesday, October 27, 2004) - Sam Houston Race Park
will host the 12th Running of the MBNA America® Challenge Championships on
Saturday, November 6, 2004.

The cornerstone of MBNA Challenge Championship night is the MBNA America
Challenge Championship, a $300,000 purse race for older qualifiers. Leading
this group with 16 wins is last year's 3-year old American Quarter Horse and
AQHA Horse of the Year, OAK TREE SPECIAL. A winner of 10-of-13 including 4
derbies last year, Oak Tree Special won only one of 3 so far this year and
that was the important East Regional Championship earning Raul Rubalcava's
son of Special Task a spot in the finals. Two other sons of Special Task
made the finals including Western Livestock, LLC's PUSH THE PACE who
represent the Southwest Region. A winner of 15-of-29, Push the Pace was in
the exacta in 6 of his 7 starts this year earning over $128,000. Trained by
Michael Barber in the qualifier, Push the Pace is now in the barn of Sleepy
Gilbreath. Oil and Hay Partners' SPECIAL TASK FORCE is the third Special
Task baby to qualify for the finals. Trained by Jack Brooks, Special Task
Force was 2nd in the All American Gold Cup on September 4 in his first start
after qualifying at Remington Park on May 14. Trainer Brooks send his $262K
earner to Lone Star for the Refrigerator Handicap on Friday the 29th as a
"tune up".

Central Regional Champion SLM SNOWMAN won all 4 of his races at Prairie
Meadows this year and enters undefeated in 2004 after going 3-5-0 from 11
starts last year. Valors Gold will represent the Texas Region and will need
to regain his Regional Championship winning form if trainer Frank Cavazos is
to have a chance at saddling two Championship winners.
The $150,000 Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship (previously the American
Airlines) once again features the fastest two-year olds in the country on
Championship night. And, depending on what happens on Friday, October 29,
the others will have to contend with AZOOM, the Texas sensation that has
been described as a "freak", where that term is used to describe "uncommonly
fast". Some sharp two-year olds will line up to accept the challenge,
however, including Dee and Betty Rapers Eye Yin You, that ran the fastest
actual time for 350 yards of any qualifier when he went 17.28 to win the
New Mexico Regional at Ruidoso. Also having run faster than Azoom is the
Northwest Champion Budderfly Effect, that posted a 17.318 on the fast Boise
surface as he won his 4th race from 6 starts before going to Ruidoso and
finishing 3rd in an All American Futurity trial in his most recent start.
Sizzlin Red Corona won the first six starts of his career before finishing
4th in the Canada Cup Futurity in his most recent start. This son of
Fishers Dash was sent to locally based Guy Hopkins for the Challenge
Championships. Oklahoma Champion , Plain Eye Opening has a record of 4-3-0
from 9 starts and most recent qualifier Jacquay won the first 4 starts of
his career, finished second and third in two and then closed out winning 3
in an row and enters the Ford off a perfectly timed three week break.
Locally based Maid It Special, a filly that won the first three races of her
career, and First Comment who won the most recent three of his including the
East Regional followed by an allowance win here, could join with Azoom in an
all Sam Houston based trifecta in the Ford Juvenile Challenge Championship.

The post position draw for all six MBNA America Challenge Championships
stakes will take place on Wednesday, November 3 at Sam Houston Race Park.