(from Lone Star Park release)
Two-year-old gelding Gold Coyote stole the show on Lone Star Park's seventh annual "Stars of Texas" program with a jaw-dropping 10-length romp over Spark Plug in the $125,000 Staunch Avenger division of the Texas Stallion Stakes Saturday.
The 5 1/2-furlong race for 2-year-old colts and geldings was one of six stakes events for horses bred in Texas. Lone Star Park's leading trainer Bret Calhoun, a Grand Prairie native, saddled three of the stakes winners, including the promising juvenile Gold Coyote.
The Staunch Avenger matched two of the best 2-year-olds on the grounds: Gold Coyote, an 11 3/4-length maiden winner, and the Steve Asmussen-trained Namesake, who won the $95,130 TTA Sales Futurity by 3 3/4 lengths on June 9.
On Saturday, it was all Gold Coyote, a son of Gold Legend out of the Seeking the Gold mare Coyote Café -- owned and bred by Clarence Scharbauer Jr., of Midland, Texas.
Gold Coyote, with leading rider Ramsey Zimmerman aboard, broke fast from the gate and dueled from the inside with stablemate Five Alarm through swift fractions of :21.43 for the first quarter mile and :44.63 for the half. Meanwhile, Namesake was about four lengths behind the leaders in the early stages of the race.
At the top the stretch, Gold Coyote began to draw away under strong urging from Zimmerman. The teletimer stopped in 1:03.04 -- a stakes record for the sixth running of the race and the fastest 5 1/2 furlongs at Lone Star since War Bridle's 1:02.56 on June 4, 2005.
"I took a look back at the top of the stretch and nobody was even close except for his entrymate, and he looked like he was out of horse," Zimmerman said. "I gave him a breather and he just went on with it. We've had some problems getting him away from the gate, but he was sharp from the gate today."
Gold Coyote, who was coupled with Five Alarm, paid $3.20, $2.40 and $2.10 as the 3-5 favorite. Spark Plug, owned by Bob and Janice McNair's Stonerside Stable, was second and returned $6.80 and $4.40. Stormy Date was another two lengths back in third and paid $3.60. Namesake finished sixth.
Gold Coyote improved his record to two wins in three starts. The $75,000 winner's share of the purse increased his career earnings to $92,040. Calhoun said his next start is expected to come in the $70,000 Middleground Breeders' Cup Stakes on July 29, a six-furlong test for 2-year-old colts and geldings on closing day of the 67-date spring Thoroughbred season.
Steve Asmussen, winner of eight of the last nine local training titles but locked in a close battle this year with Calhoun, saddled 2-year-old filly Valid Lilly to a dominating 6 1/2-length victory in the Pan Zareta division of the $125,000 Texas Stallion Stakes. At day's end, Calhoun had a 48-46 advantage in the trainer standings with 13 racing days left at the meet.
Valid Lilly was the easiest of winners in the 5 1/2-furlong Pan Zareta Division over Classie Balloo. Fiesty Lula was another nose back in third.
Valid Lilly, a $41,000 purchase at the 2006 Texas Summer Yearling Sale by Bill and Corrine Heiligbrodt of Houston, stopped the clock in 1:04.76 under regular rider Luis Quinonez. She paid $2.80, $2.40 and $2.10 as the odds-on 2-5 choice in the field of seven 2-year-old fillies.
This was her first stakes win. Previously, she was runner-up to Mailey's Cat in the $93,530 TTA Sales Futurity on June 9.
A daughter of Valid Expectations, Valid Lilly has won three of her four starts. Her career earnings now tally $118,906 after bagging the $75,000 first prize.
Also on the card, 6-year-old gelding Goosey Moose narrowly won the $75,000 Assault Stakes for a third time and collected his fourth Lone Star Park career stakes win, matching the local record of Mocha Express and Cinemine. Meanwhile, 3-year-old filly Moneyinmywranglers collected her fourth straight victory with a 1 1/2-length score in the $50,000 Valor Farm Stakes.