Valhol Takes MAXXAM Gold Cup

Valhol, confidently ridden by Robby Albarado, won Saturday night's running of the $100,000 MAXXAM Gold Cup at Sam Houston Park.

The winner covered the 1 1/8-mile distance in a time of 1:49.18.

In his second race since undergoing ankle surgery following an injury in March, Valhol is a 7-year-old son of Diazo. Trained by Dallas Keen for owner James D. Jackson of Rockdale, Texas, Valhol has now won 6 of his 20 starts. With tonight's score, he added $60,000 to his earnings, and has increased his bankroll to $444,850.

Albarado settled Valhol off the early leaders, as the first quarter was completed in :23.44 and the half-mile in :48.03. He took the lead at the top of the stretch and held off a bid from Seainsky, crossing the wire 1 ½ lengths in front.

"He is a pleasure to ride," stated Albarado, who had ridden Valhol to victory in the 2001 Whirlaway Handicap at the Fair Grounds. "Dallas had him right and when I called on him at the top of the lane, he was full of run."

"Whew," said Keen following the race. "I'm proud of this horse and the race he ran tonight. We knew that he could get the mile and an eighth; he's run that distance several times, in the Kentucky Derby and the New Orleans Handicap. We're pleased that he can still compete at this level. Very few horses from the 1999 Derby are still racing this year."

Keen and Jackson have a legacy in the MAXXAM Gold Cup as they are the trainer and owner of Allen's Oop, winner of the 2000 edition of the race. Jackson, who had announced last year that he was leaving racing due to Valhol's disqualification from the 1999 Arkansas Derby, was very emotional following the race.

"We've been through a lot together," said Jackson in the winner's circle. "This victory means a great deal to me and my family. Much of the credit goes to Dallas, who is so connected to this horse and has brought him back so well this past year."

Ask The Lord ran third under rider Curt Bourque.

Valhol, sent off as the 9-5 favorite in the field of 10, returned $5.80 to win, $3.80 to place and $3.20 to show. Fifty Star was eighth with Arctic Boy finishing ninth.

(Chart, Equibase)